We know that clutch players don't really exist. We know that any clutch that has happened isn't predictive of future clutch. Clutch hits do happen, they just aren't controllable. You shouldn't expect players to come in through the clutch because of what they did previously.
However that doesn't mean that clutch isn't still fun to look at. So let's pull some data and see if we can find not only the more common clutch hits, but some unique ones too.
We'll have to use a bit of a proxy for clutch though as we'll be looking at WPA. WPA stands for Win Probability Added, and it's a measure of swings (both positively and negatively) in win expectancy changes. Usually the bigger moves of WPA come late in the games as a run in the 1st inning of a 1-0 game doesn't have as much of an impact as a run in the 9th inning of a 1-0 game.
Single game WPA
Mike Moustakas - August 23rd (.590 WPA)
Moustakas tallied three hits in this game in four plate appearances. Normally RBI is a poor statistic, but RBI usually correlates pretty well with WPA (as scoring runs = good for your team's probability of winning).
His biggest hit of the game came in a tied game in the 9th, with the bases loaded and two outs.
RE24 is a bit complicated to explain briefly, but essentially it's a change in the run expectancy for the team based on historical base/out states. Okay, maybe it isn't that hard to explain briefly.
Mike Moustakas - September 12th (5.784 RE24)
Moose takes this award home too, and he did so deservedly. Let me recap his day:
Top 2nd Strikeout Swinging
Top 5th Popfly 3B
Top 6th Single to CF; Cain Scores; Hosmer Scores; Morales to 3B
Top 7th Home Run; Zobrist Scores; Cain Scores; Morales Scores
Top 9th Home Run; Hosmer Scores; Morales Scores
Moustakas started out the game slow, but ended up picking up 9 RBI thanks to a grand slam, and three run homer, and a two run single. What's fun is that before Moustakas came to the plate and hit a grand slam the Orioles intentionally walked Kendrys Morales to bring Moose up vs lefty TJ McFarland.
Highest WPA with no HR
WPA is usually easy to rack up with home runs. Homers always score at least one run, and depending on the score one run could have a good amount of WPA value.
Lorenzo Cain - July 3rd (.519 WPA)
This game will forever be known as the Dusty Coleman Game or the Independence Day Eve Massacre where Coleman made a crucial TOOTBLAN in the 9th to send the game to extras.
However it was a great game for Cain who collected two doubles, two singles, and a walk. However he had no RBI in the game, but instead put himself on base (which is good for your teams chance to win).
Highest WPA with no RBI
Paulo Orlando - April 21st (.278)
Orlando only had one hit in this game and a walk, but both came at good times. Orlando walked in the 6th with KC down 305 and scored to make it 4-5. Then in the 8th still down 4-5, Orlando would single Dyson over the 3B, get his first career steal (though it was a gimme), and score the tying run.
Highest WPA with no hits
Jonny Gomes - October 3rd (.129 WPA)
As described in the category, Gomes would go hitless and he would also strike out twice. However he had the largest WPA event of the game when he reached on an E5.
Highest WPA with one hit
Eric Hosmer - September 30th (.463 WPA)
Eric only needed one hit and it was a big one. Facing usual shutdown reliever David Robertson in the top of the 10th, Hosmer launched a drive into deep right field to put the Royals up 5-3 en route to the win.
Highest WPA with no extra base hits
Alcides Escobar - July 25th (.339 WPA)
There might be no one of the Royals starting eight with less power than Alcides Escobar who loves to slap singles into the outfield.
Escobar only collected two hits on the day but his final hit (a blooper into short right field) put the Royals ahead in the bottom of the 10th to win it.
Highest WPA with a single plate appearance
Kris Medlen - August 18th (.309 WPA)
I was so hoping man that a pitcher would appear on this list, and one did finally at the end. However it would have been sweeter if it was a hit rather than a sac bunt error. However whatever gets the job done I guess.
The Royals and the Reds were deep into the night in the 13th inning of a tied game. Jarrod Dyson had singled to bring up the pitchers spot and Medlen (the pitcher of record at the end) was ready to bunt. He was able to get the bunt down and Reds pitcher Ryan Mattheus throw the ball away allowing Dyson to come all the way home from first. Medlen would end up with the go ahead sac bunt error and the win.
Lowest WPA with 4 hits
No Royals batter had 5 or more hits this year, but several of them had four. However no one collected four more futile hits in aggregate than Eric Hosmer did on July 10th.
Bottom 1st single with a man on 1st and two outs
Bottom 3rd single with no one on and no outs
Bottom 5th double with no one on and one out
Bottom 7th single with man on 1st and two outs
Highest WPA in a loss or good job good effort
Eric Hosmer - September 19th (.477 WPA)
Hosmer would collect three hits on the day but Royals would ultimately lose in extra to the Tigers 6-5. With a home run, double, and a single he would fall a triple shy of the cycle as the Royals fell a two runs shy of the win.
Highest WPA with no extra base hits in a loss
Ben Zobrist - August 30th (.278 WPA)
The Royals rode the single train all the way to a World Series win this year and Ben Zobrist had a good game even though he had just one hit. However Zobrist did what Zobrist does and his late game walk set the table for the Royals chance to score late (which they didn't).