The Week in Confirmation Bias, 6/17-6/23

Scott Halleran

A weekly reminder that the things our brain tells us seems true are sometimes super true.

Confirmation bias - "a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way." (Wikipedia)

Last week we saw the obvious consequence of pitching to Mike Stanton, bore witness to the very best of Bill Schroeder, and took note of several wall-scrapers in Cincinnati's bandbox.

This week we step away from conspiracy theories involving FSN's subliminal sexism and focus on less controversial occurrences which made our brains work very little.

Maxim: Slumping/bad players always break out against the Crew. - GoldenFrank

The forward slash separates "slumping" and "bad" so that the maxim can apply to two different types of players. Good players that are slumping. Bad players that are just bad in general.

In the case off Astros' third baseman Matt Dominguez, the verb and the adjective are equally applicable.

To be fair, Dominguez is still young and relatively unproven. He turns 24 on August 28th. But his track record with the bat in the minor leagues is mediocre for a corner infielder, especially considering he is a former 1st round pick (the Marlins took him at #12 in 2007). As the Marlins frantically tried to patch up their sinking ship, they dealt him to the Astros in part of a deal for Carlos Lee. They had Hanley Ramirez at third base, and it's not like he was going anywhere anytime soon.

Though Dominguez was serviceable in a few ABs in 2012 (.284/.310/.477 in 113 PA), 2013 has been a different story. In the first two months of the season, he produced a Yuni-ish slash of .239/.266/.410. In June the struggles continued, with only 11 hits and a single walk in 56 PA.

Then the Brewers came to Houston.

Dominguez went 6-11 with a game-clinching grand slam off of Tom Gorzellany in game 1 of the series. In the rubber match, he contributed a key RBI double off of Yovani Gallardo in the bottom of the 6th. It was his only 3-hit game of the season.

This weekend, he went 1-11 against the Cubs.

Verdict: BIAS VALIDATED

Maxim: The contact play never works. - GoGregGo

We've been over this. But it happened again. I only bring it up because it ended up being kind of important. Plus, it's fun to feel right about things.

In the top of the 9th inning against Houston on Thursday evening, Scooter Gennett stood at second base with one out with Jean Segura at the plate. The game was tied, so Gennett's run was looking like a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, Jose Veras was Jose Veras, and doomed the Brewers' chances with this delivery:

Veraswild_medium

"That could be a big one for the Brewers," said Brian Anderson. He was right. The inning just ended. Two pitches later:

Scooterout_medium

Because of this recurrence I decided to do some research (but not too much). The Brewers have the third most runner-on-third-with-less-than-two-outs instances in the NL (162). They are also tied for the third most instances in which that runner scored (81). Their success rate of 50% is right on league average.

However, that success rate includes fly balls, base hits, homeruns, etc. And ground balls to third base. Which, according to my trained analytical eye, the Brewers are 0/however many.

Verdict: BIAS RE-VALIDATED

Maxim: The Brewers always beat up on the Pirates. - Dikembe Meiztombo

No, you're right. The Brewers didn't play the Pirates this week. But Manny Parra did. And he used to be a Brewer.

Manny Parra has pitched 34 innings to Pittsburgh hitters, which is 4th most total behind STL (81.1), HOU(51) and CIN (44.1). Among these four teams Parra's best ERA (2.65), WHIP (1.382), and K/BB (2.33) have come against the Pirates.

Here's what he did this week:

2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

Once a Brewer, always a Brewer, right?

Given his ineffectiveness this season (a 1.938 WHIP juiced by a 14.1 H/9), it was quite a display for the Red's mop-up man.

Visual proof from Tuesday's game in Cincinnati, for those who don't believe it:

Parrak1_medium

Nice swing, Garrett. Later that inning:

Parrak2_medium

Note: the kid wasn't ultra-enthralled because of a well-located splitter. Turns out a local pizza chain gives away free pizzas after 11 strikeouts by the home team. This was number 11. Probably the most love Manny's ever gotten from a paying audience.

The next night Parra completed the Pirate bullying with not only a clean top of the 13th inning, but earned a win when the Reds walked off in the bottom half of the inning. Not only was he good, he was lucky.

Just like any Brewer, when Manny Parra sees the Pirates, he sees red. Ironic, right?

...because he's a Red. Is that irony? I never know.

Verdict: BIAS VALIDATED

Maxim: The Brewers always do better when I'm not watching

Perfectnull_medium

Usually a Wily Peralta start is something not worth watching, but that assumes that you're watching.

Verdict: BIAS VALIDATED

-------------------------------------------------------

If you have any more maxims in mind, post in the comments and I'll add them to the master list. So I can selectively choose them when they become relevant - for further virtuous analysis.

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