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.