The idea of "clutch" takes a lot of different forms, but Win Probability Added is the best way to quickly and dirtily capture the most game-changing performances.
Basically, WPA counts how much a player affected his team's chances of winning by his performance at the plate. Let's use this game against the Yankees on June 28 as an example. The White Sox were trailing 3-1 in the ninth inning with runners on the corners and nobody out. That situation gave them a 30-percent chance of winning the game. After Dayan Viciedo took David Robertson deep to give the Sox a 4-3 lead, they had an 84 percent chance of winning the game.
The WPA for that single at-bat was 0.530. But Viciedo carried a negative WPA (-0.172) into the ninth inning, because he was 0-for-2 with a double play before that. So add it all up, and his cumulative WPA for the game is 0.358.
That was good enough for 18th-best single game WPA for a White Sox hitter in 2012, and the 11th-highest in a White Sox winner. (Alex Rios ended the game with his wall-banging catch, which is a kind of clutch WPA doesn't measure, but hey.)
Which players and moments beat out Viciedo's Yankee Stadium silencer for the top 10 White Sox victory-enhancers of 2012? Let's start with Viciedo himself, five days before.
No. 10: Dayan Viciedo vs. Brewers
June 23 | WPA: 0.361
Viciedo went 3-for-4 with four RBI, and one of those hits was a opposite-field, two-run homer off Randy Wolf that broke a 2-2 tie. He also delivered a pair of RBI singles -- one tied the game at 1 in the first inning, and the second narrowed the Milwaukee lead to 6-5. The White Sox went on to win 8-6.
Highlight: Viciedo's big game
No. 9: Alex Rios vs. Angels
Aug. 3 | WPA: 0.361
Rios delivered three run-scoring hits, including a pair of homers. The second one was a walk-off shot, giving the Sox another 8-6 victory and stealing a win from a lopsided pitching matchup (Zack Greinke vs. Philip Humber).
Highlight: Rios' big night
No. 8: Jordan Danks vs. Athletics
Aug. 10 | WPA: 0.378
No. 7: Tyler Flowers vs. Mariners
Aug. 26 | WPA: 0.381
Like Danks, Flowers only had one hit, but he made it memorable. With the White Sox trailing 3-2 in the sixth, Flowers jumped on a so-so slider by Kevin Millwood and blasted it 453 feet through a hard drizzle to give the Sox a 4-3 lead. Umpires would halt the game due to a downpour two batters later, and it never resumed.
Highlight: Flowers' two-run go-ahead homer
No. 6: A.J. Pierzynski vs. Twins
July 31 | WPA: 0.400
Jeff Gray is looking for his anemone, but he only found an enemy in his one-time batterymate. Pierzynski earned the traditional boos at Target Field for blasting a no-doubt, two-run shot to right, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning. Addison Reed survived a scare to nail down the save.
Highlight: Pierzynski's clutch home run
No. 5: Dayan Viciedo vs. Tigers
May 14 | WPA: 0.405
The Tigers knocked John Danks out of the game in the third inning, but Viciedo led the way out of a 5-2 hole. He hit a two-run homer off Drew Smyly to cut the Tigers' lead to 5-4, and then bounced a two-run single over the head of Luke Putkonen to give the Sox a one-run lead. Six scoreless innings by the bullpen (including three by Zach Stewart) ensured a 7-5 victory.
Highlight: Viciedo's four RBI
No. 4: Alex Rios vs. Mariners
April 22 | WPA: 0.408
How do you score both Pierzynski and Paul Konerko on a ball that doesn't leave the yard? A triple will do the trick. Once again, Millwood finds his way on the list by allowing a laced liner to the right-center gap that tied the game at 4. Rios also added an RBI single later in the game to give the Sox a 6-4 lead, and they'd tack on one more before it was over.
Highlight: Rios stars for White Sox
No. 3: Alex Rios vs. Indians
May 8 | WPA: 0.439
Here's another Rios triple, except this one has even greater implications. For one, it drove home Brent Lillibridge to give the Sox a 5-4 lead in the 10th inning, and Rios scored on a fielder's choice for an insurance run. For Rios, it was sweet revenge against noted dolt Chris Perez, who screamed in Rios' direction the week before while closing out a Cleveland victory.
Highlight: Rios' go-ahead triple
No. 2: Adam Dunn vs. Tigers
May 5 | WPA: 0.466
With the Sox trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning at Comerica Park, Jose Valverde allows a leadoff single to Alejandro De Aza. De Aza steals second, and Alexei Ramirez bunts him over, giving Adam Dunn a chance to tie the game with a flyball. Dunn does the mashed Potato instead, crushing a two-run shot off Papa Grande. Hector Santiago and Reed survive a shaky ninth, giving the White Sox a rare victory over Detroit in Detroit.
We've seen it a couple times this October: Nothing beats a sad Valverde.
Highlight: Dunn's go-ahead two-run homer
No. 1: Adam Dunn vs. Indians
Sept. 24 | WPA: 0.685
Actually, one thing beats a sad Valverde -- a performance that packages a pair of important home runs, including a three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch by Vinnie Pestano, pushing the Sox to a crucial 5-4 victory over Cleveland to preserve the Sox's one-game lead. The lead ultimately didn't last, but that blast still holds up as the biggest hit of Dunn's career.
Highlight: Dunn's two homers
(Extra note: Dunn earned the fifth spot on this list with another two-homer game. That one came in Toronto, and his second dinger tied the game in the ninth inning.)