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My take on Profar's SB, HBP

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#1 walt-o-meal

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 01:43 AM

It has been suggested here, that Twins manager Paul Molitor intentionally ordered a third HBP on Jurickson Profar in Friday's game. This is a fine hypothesis. In my opinion, hypotheses should be tested. Let's do it.

 

---------- The Hypotheses ----------
H1, the experimental hypothesis: Molitor hates it when players steal with a big lead, and will get retribution by having his guy to throw at the offending player. 

 

H0, the null hypothesis: Big-lead steals have no effect. Batters get hit sometimes, but the outcome of an at-bat will be no different than after attempting to steal with a lead.

 

---------- The Relevant Evidence ----------
Let's define a big lead as 5 or more runs. Scouring Retrosheet, I see 4 cases of an opposing batter stealing with a lead of 5 or more runs against a Molitor-managed team (2015-18).

 

Exhibit A. 6-26-2015 Twins at Brewers. With a 6-1 lead in the second inning, Ryan Braun steals second off Alex Meyer (he later scores on a Carlos Gomez single). Braun gets 3 more PAs in the game (outcomes summarized below, for the sake of drama).

Exhibit B. 9-30-2015 Twins at Cleveland. With a 5-0 lead in the 4th inning, Jason Kipnis reaches on an error. Following a Jose Ramirez popout, he steals second and later scores on a Francisco Lindor homer. Kipnis gets 2 more PAs in the game (again, outcome below.Is the suspense killing you?).

Exhibit C. 6-17-2017 Twins vs Cleveland. With an 8-3 lead in the 7th, Jason Kipnis (him again?) is caught stealing. Kipnis gets one more PA in the game (I'll bet you don't remember what it was!).

Exhibit D. 6-23-2018 Twins vs Texas. With a 9-2 lead in the 4th inning, Jurickson Profar steals 2nd. Profar records 2 more PAs in the game (ok, you might remember these ones).

 

---------- The Predictions ----------
Now, before reading on, record your prediction for these 8 PAs, given your assumptions about Molitor's process. 
1. how many HBPs? 
2. how many walks (perhaps accounting for an agile batter, who knows what's coming ans can avoid the HBP above)
3. how many pitcher ejections? 
4. how many manager ejections?

Its a small sample, but larger-than-expected numbers for any of these would be evidence supporting H1. In science, we like to use p < .05 as a criterion for rejecting the null hypothesis. Here are the proper expected values for the null hypothesis:

1. Using .00816 as the random probability of HBP (from SABR: https://sabr.org/res...league-baseball), there is a 6.30% chance of 1 or more HBP (using a standard binomial distribution).Suspicious, but not sufficient for a conclusive rejection of H0. 2 or more HBP yields a lean .0018, which should be enough to convince even the stingiest of skeptics. 

 

2. Walks are more common, having a .0745 chance in each PA (again from SABR).Using that figure, we get binomial probabilities of
0 or more walks out of 8:1.000
1 or more walks out of 8:0.462
2 or more walks out of 8:0.115
3 or more walks out of 8:0.017
So 3 (being < .05) shall be our criterion for an abnormally high number of walks.

 

3/4.Ejections are so rare that even 1 in 8 PAs has a sufficiently small probability of occurrence to draw attention. So 1 it is.

 

---------- Data and Conclusions ----------
Finally, here are the at-bats so cruelly denied to you earlier:
A.Braun: 3rd inning K;6th inning 2B;8th inning K
B.Kipnis: 6th inning K;8th inning IBB
C.Kipnis: 9th inning 2B
D.Profar: 7th inning HBP; 9th inning K

 

That adds to 2-6, 4K, 1 BB, 1 HBP.
No ejections, and the lone walk was intentional (ie, not out of self-preservation).There is no compelling statistical reason to reject the null hypothesis on any of the 4 figures. The one HBP yields a value numerically close to .05, but not there statistically. Also note it was to a guy that is pretty good at getting plunked (and may have leaned into a pitch his previous at-bat). Thus, use of the league average .00816 could have deflated the true p-value.

 

The most compelling evidence appears to be Molitor's comment, "We wanted to give him an opportunity to steal another base." This could be interpreted as an indicator of intent, or perhaps as a self-deprecating indictment of his team's inability to control the running game. I am skeptical of the former, as it would seem to be begging for a fine from the league. Like him or not, Molitor is surely savvy enough to avoid such statements, even if he is a retributive head-hunter.

Finally, I am unaware of any direct quotes from Molitor that include "unwritten rules" or "respecting the game". If they exist, please post them. 

 

---------- Final Disclaimer ----------
Note, this does not mean that the HBP was not intentional, or that Molitor does not aim to retaliate against big-lead SBs. It merely means that there is not sufficient evidence to support such accusations.

Edited by walt-o-meal, 25 June 2018 - 01:46 AM.

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#2 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 04:27 AM

I'm not sure it should ever be acceptable to intentionally throw at a player. That kind of thing can end a career and possibly a life.

 

It's a game. 

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#3 Platoon

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 04:50 AM

You could simplify this into: There are those who believe in coincidences, and those who don't. I have no problem with the unwritten rules, and have practiced a few of them. But this one didn't call for anything. IIRC it was fairly early in the game, not the 8th or 9th. You don't quit playing that early. Not in today's video game baseball.
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#4 spycake

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 05:20 AM

Finally, I am unaware of any direct quotes from Molitor that include "unwritten rules" or "respecting the game". If they exist, please post them.


They are not that hard to find. Here's the further quotes from Molitor (and from Bannister first, for context):

http://m.startribune...-379/486368501/

"It's the fourth inning," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We're still playing baseball. He stole second base in that situation that I didn't think was an unnecessary situation, in my opinion. There's still a lot of game to be played."

Twins manager Paul Molitor had a different view.

"The thought process between the unwritten rules of the game is not clearly defined," he said. "What I might think and what he might think might be different things. I was surprised that [Profar] ran with the score the way it was, when he did. And getting hit there was something that Banister felt wasn't appropriate."


#5 spycake

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 05:41 AM

Also, I disagree with this analysis for 2 reasons.

1. Unwritten rules are pretty much subjective by definition. Why would we be surprised if they were noticed/enforced subjectively too?

2. Even granting it more objectivity than it deserves, in 3.5 years of data, ~560 games, you found zero previous instances of a runner stealing with a 7 run lead. In fact, you found zero instances of a runner stealing with a 6 run lead too. Why did this not make it into your conclusion? Only when you defined a "big lead" as 5 runs or more did you find your other 3 data points. Even if we assume some objectivity, what if Molitor thinks 5 runs is okay, but 6 or 7 runs is too much?

Subjectively, I'd take it a step further -- the 7 runs plus the fact that we had already removed our SP very early, plus that we were basically stuck riding mopup Magill as long as possible (albeit because of our own poor pen construction for this game), plus that Profar already got a "free" base due to the HBP(s) (was he leaning over the plate? are we combining multiple transgressions?) -- plus maybe that he is a relatively unfamiliar opponent who is not known for stealing... well, I don't know if Molitor ordered the hit, but I see no reason to distrust the quotes where he effectively condoned the third HBP.
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#6 Sconnie

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 06:47 AM

The most compelling evidence appears to be Molitor's comment, "We wanted to give him an opportunity to steal another base." This could be interpreted as an indicator of intent, or perhaps as a self-deprecating indictment of his team's inability to control the running game. I am skeptical of the former, as it would seem to be begging for a fine from the league. Like him or not, Molitor is surely savvy enough to avoid such statements, even if he is a retributive head-hunter.
Finally, I am unaware of any direct quotes from Molitor that include "unwritten rules" or "respecting the game". If they exist, please post them.

---------- Final Disclaimer ----------
Note, this does not mean that the HBP was not intentional, or that Molitor does not aim to retaliate against big-lead SBs. It merely means that there is not sufficient evidence to support such accusations.

Fantastic approach Walt. I laud your effort, but agree with spycake. We’re looking for data points suggesting logic, when the basis for decision making is unwritten. If the rules for the game are clearly documented, but the rules for this scenario are adhered to as code but not documented, we’re looking for logic where none exists.

It’s illogical to add unwritten rules to a written rule book. It’s illogical to have a moral code that says verbally, I guess, “play the game the right way”, “sportsmanship is ultimate” and “if you take offense to the other team, you should throw at them”.

Molitor is a Savvy guy; he’s not going come right out and say he ordered the Profar plunking. However I can recall referring to these types of “rules” by the players , especially Dozier, and Molitor during Molitors tenure way more than I can recall during Gardy or TK’s tenures. Maybe it’s recently bias, but man it feels like Molly preaches from the unwritten gospel more than other managers.

Edited by Sconnie, 25 June 2018 - 07:45 AM.


#7 terrydactyls1947

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:12 AM

I think that all this "not playing according to the unwritten rules" nonsense is just sour grapes by the Twins because they are playing so poorly.
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#8 wavedog

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:16 AM

I'll add this nugget to the discussion- on the radio this morning down here in Texas the broadcasters speculated that Molitor had lost the clubhouse by not retaliating on Thursday when Escobar got hit by Porcello.So this added to the decision process to throw at Profar I suppose to show that I can throw at people?Not sure how that would be related but there could be something to that. 

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#9 Sconnie

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:52 AM

I'll add this nugget to the discussion - on the radio this morning down here in Texas the broadcasters speculated that Molitor had lost the clubhouse by not retaliating on Thursday when Escobar got hit by Porcello. So this added to the decision process to throw at Profar I suppose to show that I can throw at people? Not sure how that would be related but there could be something to that.

if Molly lost clubhouse, I would have thought it was weeks ago
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#10 spycake

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:00 AM

 

I'll add this nugget to the discussion- on the radio this morning down here in Texas the broadcasters speculated that Molitor had lost the clubhouse by not retaliating on Thursday when Escobar got hit by Porcello.So this added to the decision process to throw at Profar I suppose to show that I can throw at people?Not sure how that would be related but there could be something to that. 

That, and just a general frustration with our performance and standing too. If Profar takes that same HBP and steals that same base with the same 7 run lead, but in some other context than coming off two bad losses* and an embarrassing line from Odorizzi, I might expect a different reaction.

 

Frankly, maybe that is why we didn't retaliate for Escobar on Thursday -- we just won the first two games of that series, and 4 out of 5 games overall.

 

* Of course, I'd prefer our reaction to 2 bad losses to include trying to improve our roster -- you know, like cutting Belisle? Unfortunately, we failed to do that and it looks like we possibly demoted Romero out of frustration instead (I'm thinking Romero should have been demoted after Friday's game if it was purely for Romero-based reasons -- waiting until after Saturday's game suggests other factors were at play).

Edited by spycake, 25 June 2018 - 08:00 AM.


#11 nicksaviking

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:01 AM

 

I think that all this "not playing according to the unwritten rules" nonsense is just sour grapes by the Twins because they are playing so poorly.

 

Yeah, the "unwritten rule" stuff tends to be not about respecting the game but about your opponent getting embarrassed.

 

Getting blown out again when your team is 34-40 in a year they thought they were going to contend probably has some impact how closely these rules are followed.

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#12 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:06 AM

 

I'll add this nugget to the discussion- on the radio this morning down here in Texas the broadcasters speculated that Molitor had lost the clubhouse by not retaliating on Thursday when Escobar got hit by Porcello.So this added to the decision process to throw at Profar I suppose to show that I can throw at people?Not sure how that would be related but there could be something to that. 

 

I don't think this even happens without the Boston incident.Great post.


#13 yarnivek1972

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 10:36 AM

Correct me if I am wrong, but in the game Escobar was HBP didn’t Gibson hit a guy?

Intentional or not, I’m sure the other side wasn’t happy.

Isn’t it logical to assume they went after Escobar for THAT reason?

So, wouldn’t hitting Profar (who plays for a different team) in retaliation for hitting Escobar be escalating a situation that should already have been done?
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#14 spycake

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 10:54 AM

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but in the game Escobar was HBP didn’t Gibson hit a guy?

Escobar was hit by a pitch in the first inning. Gibson hit Sandy Leon leading off the 6th.

Edited by spycake, 25 June 2018 - 10:55 AM.


#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 10:56 AM

That's a lot of words to say that the unwritten rules are illogical and stupid! And I agree.

And yes, they hit him on purpose imo
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#16 yarnivek1972

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:12 AM

Escobar was hit by a pitch in the first inning. Gibson hit Sandy Leon leading off the 6th.


That makes me even more confused. The Rangers broadcast team is “speculating” that they hit Profar because the Twins failed to protect Escobar when he was HBP. Wouldn’t hitting Leon qualify as taking care of that?

#17 yarnivek1972

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 07:15 PM

There you go. Last night Nationals down 9-0 after 4 ended up winning 14-12.

No game is over in the 4th inning.
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#18 ewen21

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 04:13 AM

 

There you go. Last night Nationals down 9-0 after 4 ended up winning 14-12.

No game is over in the 4th inning.

It's baseball!There is no clock so you keep in plugging away because you are supposed to. It is the spirt of the game.