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Munenori Kawasaki second in "close and late" situations

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

According to ESPN blogger David Schoenfield, Blue Jays utility guy Munenori Kawasaki finished second in baseball for hitting in "close and late" situations, averaging .346, just three percentage points behind the Red Sox's BROCK HOLT. "Close and late" situations are defined as when the game is in the seventh inning or later, and the team at bat is ahead by one, tied, or has the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck.

Yes, we know that "clutch" really doesn't exist, but this is sort of cool. We already kinda knew that Kawasaki had the ability to take a lot of pitches in his plate appearances (see FanPost), and we also sorta had a feeling that he keeps coming up with a well-timed hit in the late innings, but it's great to see the actual numbers behind it. In fact, when looking at innings splits on Baseball-Reference, we can see that his slash line in innings 7-9 is .310/.375/.352, much higher than the other six innings (small sample size alert!), so it could be "clutch" or it could just be good luck, with his .379 BABIP in that situation.

Speaking of Kawasaki, he recently did a Japanese-language interview where he talked about why he was so popular in Toronto, and he referenced how Blue Jays fans seemed to love fun middle infielders (he name-dropped John McDonald). I am getting this from a rough Google translation, but later in the article he also said something about being as popular as Derek Jeter. He also said that he would likely come back if offered a major league contract, but may also be considering a minor league deal...I think.

Another piece was translated quite horribly, but I think it is saying that Kawasaki is now down to deciding between signing a minor league contract (with a spring invite) with one of two teams who are still interested.