Statistics tell more truths than Selena Roberts

The New York Times, with some help from Tom Tango and Leverage Index, blows up the pitch-tipping allegations:

If a tipping conspiracy were in place, one would expect that Rodriguez and rival middle infielders in games he played to have hit better in low-leverage situations than in high-leverage ones. Using a fairly loose definition of high leverage as a L.I. above 1.5 and low leverage as below 0.7, the data provide a resounding answer: either no tipping was going on or it was pathetically ineffective.

Contrary to his reputation as a choker, Rodriguez was actually at his best when the game was on the line as a Ranger. According to data compiled by Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com, his combined on-base and slugging percentages (O.P.S.) from 2001 to 2003 was 1.076 in high-leverage situations, compared with 1.017 for medium leverage and .982 in low leverage. Opposing second basemen and shortstops showed the same pattern. They registered an .899 O.P.S. when leverage was high, .825 when it was middling, and .817 when it was low. Unless Rodriguez’s behavior was even more nefarious — tipping only when it mattered most — the numbers give no reason to believe he was involved.

Query: why doesn’t someone from the Times get a comment from Roberts about this?


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Bob Timmermann
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Bob Timmermann

HR at the New York Times won’t give anyone in the news room her phone number.

Ben2009
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Ben2009

Just curious – do you think Roberts was lying (as in, she made up the quotes and there is no source) or was lied to (there was a source, accurately described, quoted accurately, but is not telling the truth)?

Matt Aux
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Matt Aux

I hate when things like “math” and “facts” get in the way of a good story.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
Ben—I think the latter, and I think that her journalistic curiosity—to the extent she still has some—was easily trumped by the fact that she really, really wants to believe the worst about Alex Rodriguez.  The “this is too good to check” vibe comes through many times in that book.  Someone says he may have used steroids in high school. She has already interviewed Doug Minkeiwictz (sp?), who was a friend and high school teammate of A-Rod’s. Yet she somehow doesn’t ask him about that.  He later said that the allegation was implausible. I wonder if she asked and didn’t like… Read more »
Matt S
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Matt S
Rob, you beat me to my post. At the very least we need to look at middle infielders as a whole (minus A-rod and middle IF’s playing against A-rod) to establish some sort of baseline. We than would compare those means to that of A-rod’s and middle infielders’ during games they played against A-rod. My guess is that if there was any difference it would be statistically insignificant. A researcher should also compare middle IF’s numbers when they play against the entire league (control sample) vs. when the play against A-rod. Once again, this is probably going to be insignificant… Read more »
MooseinOhio
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MooseinOhio
While I am suspect of many things Roberts writes I can believe the possibility of pitch tipping occuring as I had a good friend play college basketball in the BigTen and ‘deals’ between players were occasional made to pad stats.  For example, my friend played for a strong academic institute that typically struggled athletically and a rival player with NBA potential brokered a deal midway through a blowout to ease back on his defense somewhat so my buddy could score above his average while letting the prospect get more rebounds to make him appear to be more of a complete… Read more »
Rob²
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Rob²
First, let me put on record that I agree with the idea that the anonymous accusations of pitch-tipping are meaningless.  Unless someone comes out and goes on record, it’s nothing more than rumor and innuendo.  And Roberts aside, there are enough other people who dislike ARod that it would be all too easy to plant a story like this. That said however, these stats are also meaningless.  The primary problem is that there’s no baseline.  Comparing low-leverage situations to high-leverage situations is problematic enough (e.g., just why should we expect that someone would do better in one situation than the… Read more »
chattanooga
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chattanooga

Moose,

you’re speculation on the pitch-tipping scenarios are plausable.  Unlike roberts, however, you at least admit to the speculative nature and anecdotal basis for their existence.  This lady is trying to pass that Sh*t off as fact to destroy someone’s character-image.

Sara K
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Sara K
In the interview on MLB Network, Roberts was asked about the idea that team doctors were instructing the players on how to use steroids safely.  Costas says that, according to his information, doctors were presenting information geared toward dispelling myths – what will happen and what won’t happen on steroids.  Roberts’ response was that players aren’t going to be able to have perspective and be objective about that information, that they will (and did) interpret it to be instructions on how to use. In her way of thinking, it *doesn’t matter* what the intent was. So what if the doctor’s… Read more »
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