Look at instances where Condition loss > 30% and this is where protection seems to factor in.
No protection 30% or more condition loss = 7/20 ... 40% or more = 3/20
With protection, 30% or more condition loss = 1/20 ... 40% or more = 0/20
I am confident this dataset is sufficient sample size and should very closely match either a poisson or negative binomial distribution. It's been a decade or so since I've dealt with getting an equation for such a dataset, but 10-15 years ago I could have done this comparison in a few minutes. Unfortunately the muscles that are not exercised lose their strength, and I have forgotten a lot of my early career statistics.
You're correct in that it doesn't change the fact that you can reliably seek out a wolf struggle naked with intent to kill it, but the protection does offer a clear difference, and I'm fairly certain someone with more than a passing knowledge of statistics can figure out a very good approximation of the formula in 10-15 minutes based on your existing data. Probably what would help more than more samples at an existing protection value, would be another dataset of 20 at some protection value in the middle, but I don't think that would be necessary to reverse engineer the equation used with 80-90% confidence.
I'm not sure how you change people struggling in their underwear without significantly increasing the difficulty of the early game. The game already has a steep learning curve and high early game difficulty, that then levels off once you get a foothold. I think the only thing really punishing is a significant risk of 90-100% condition loss with the most favorable weapon at a pretty significant click rate, and if that is the case, then what is the chance of 90-100% condition loss for a new player who hasn't found a hatchet? Being punishing for new players is one thing, but the game favors ways of learning in-game rather than pushing people to the forums, and I think this doesn't fit the game design directions.
Wolves need to be less threatening than bears. It's an accomplishment of progression when a player gets to the point where they're not scared of a single wolf attack because they have a struggle weapon in good condition and plenty of wound treatments. Having that kind of step in progression is good for player experience. Bears are already there as the "you can never struggle with them" predator, and a 3-pack of wolves is also in the same category. I'd much favor seeing more bears / packs on maps vs. buffing single wolves (which they have done.)
I think even if you buff them, you still eventually get to the point where you can fight them naked, you just have to plan for extra recovery time... but what really prevents the recovery time when you kill a wolf and have meat to survive plenty of resting time? Only the other afflictions that have been added like cabin fever, no way to sleep and recover condition when fully rested, parasite risk and now the scent risk of carrying home the spoils of your victory at low condition. Hinterland has consistently added these as ways to curb players stripping down when hunting wolves vs. where the game was a year ago, and I think it's quite a lot less beneficial to fight wolves naked vs. when I first bought the game.