The Houston Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal

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Even in football the QB doesn't have to yell as much or for as great of a distance as the catcher would and when it's noisy QB's use silent signals.

Before technology about the only way to really steal signals from an opposing team was when you had a runner on 2nd base.
Yeah, the huddle makes calling plays in football much more similar to line-outs in rugby.
 
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Was a joke wasn't it? I didn't know Bregman was a cyborg...

There's been some delays to the Red Sox investigation. Management have hinted that they think the Red Sox will be found innocent, but they've also said they're completely in the dark about the investigation so I'm not sure how much we can read into anything they say. most reports seem to be saying that it's not going to be as bad as the Astros. I can hope I suppose...

I heard Mike Bolsinger (Former Blue Jays pitcher) is suing the Astros over lost wages (he wants to donate it to charity). This could be the beginning of a very long, drawn out story. He had the worst inning of his career against the Astros, got sent down to the minors and never came back up. Whether he'll win or not I don't know, but it seems like a fairly legitimate claim.

As always (for baseball), Curt Schilling is worth listening to:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1DexukUxTc
 
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I looked at his (Bolsinger) stats, and he was bad the last 3 years, not only against the Astros. His numbers were not much worse against them then any other teams in recent years. I dont see any correlation between them cheating and him just not being any good. Somebody said this on Twitter:

MIKE BOLSINGER:

Career record: 8-19 over 4 years

2014:
  • No games against the Astros
  • 5.50 ERA
2015:
  • No games against the Astros
  • 3.62 ERA
2016:
  • No games against the Astros
  • 6.83 ERA
2017:
  • Had 2 games against Astros
  • 6.31 ERA
You’re just a crappy pitcher my guy
 
His 2017 ERA in the Majors was 4.92. That's including the two games against the Astros.

In 2015 he had a decent ERA and he was injured in 2016. He also started to switch from a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher in 2017 for the Jays. I'm pretty sure I read that video analysis showed the Astros cheated during the game he gave up those runs that resulted in him getting sent down.

In 2018 he had a good season for Chiba and made the all-star game.

No one's claiming he's Clayton Kershaw, but he had enough to bounce around triple A and maybe the majors. Like I said, I'm not sure he'll win and it might be hard to prove that one innings was what did for him, but I think he at least has a case the Astros need to answer. Essentially he's saying that it wasn't his arm that determined if he stayed in the Majors.
 
Well I think the chances of the Red Sox being found guilty and severely punished are slim to none. The Red Sox are much more mainstream with tons more exposure and nobody benefits from them being punished. The Astros on the other hand are not a huge market team (from what I understand), their history isn't that rich (pun intended) and they were snitched on by a former player of theirs who himself was already doing questionable (at best) things to have his way on the mound, but he wasn't happy with the team, apparently didn't get the money he thought he'd get and the story began.
 
Like I said, I'm not sure he'll win and it might be hard to prove that one innings was what did for him, but I think he at least has a case the Astros need to answer. Essentially he's saying that it wasn't his arm that determined if he stayed in the Majors.
I agree he has a case, but it will be very hard to win. One inning is just too small a sample size. Even an elite pitcher can have a bad inning. Plus the analyses that have been published to date--particularly Tony Adams's record of all the times Astros hitters heard bangs when receiving a pitch--show that the benefit to the hitters, while potentially significant, was not huge. It's not like every time a hitter knew what pitch was coming he got a hit. As usual in baseball, it was a matter of a slight edge adding up over time. The greatest benefit seemed to be walking a little more often, and striking out a little less often. So while that could have contributed to Bolsinger's bad inning, a really bad inning would be more likely due to chance than to tipping pitches.

I think the chances of the Red Sox being found guilty and severely punished are slim to none.
I'm sure they'll be found guilty. The fact that Cora was fired was in anticipation of that, and I'd expect his suspension. But there isn't much more punishment that can be doled out, given that Manfred isn't going to punish any players. They have a new GM, who wasn't there when this was going on.
 
I've not dug into any of the analysis beyond what you linked in the first post @Merckx index , maybe I need to have a look around more now. I remember that all of the individuals they looked at had pretty big upticks in hits against off-speed pitches at home, but they hadn't looked at left pitches, is that still correct?

I don't know enough about Bolsinger's pitches, but if they knew that any off-speed pitch he threw wasn't going to be a strike, then that's an enormous advantage. I found this Washington Post article Bolsinger wrote and that looks like it could the the case. He also claims that analysis of tape showed they cheated more in this specific game than any other. The pertinent parts in case you can't read it (they limit the number of articles you can see for free):

Toward the middle of the 2017 season, I was transitioning into the role of relief pitcher. My first few games as a reliever made me optimistic: This could be my future in baseball. Then came the Astros game on Aug. 4, 2017, in Houston.

I remember the game vividly, because it was my last and worst in major league baseball. The stadium was packed. I live in Texas, so my wife and her friends were there. The Astros got off to a lead, and I was brought in during the fourth inning. The Astros seemed to know every pitch that was coming. I threw 29 pitches, and the Astros scored four runs off me in one-third of an inning before I was taken out. My pitches were getting smashed, and I ended up walking a few batters because the Astros appeared to know when to lay off. The postgame recaps said I had unraveled. I knew as I left the mound that this could be it; for a journeyman pitcher, a game that bad could be his last.
In January, the MLB commissioner confirmed that the Astros had cheated. The league suspended their manager and general manager, and the team fired them. Journalists and concerned fans began studying video from 2017. They figured out the Astros had cheated more often on Aug. 4 than in any other game that season.


I think the fact he was a journeyman pitcher and transitioning to a relief role adds weight to his claim. It'll be interesting to see if the Jays come out and say that this specific performance was a big part of why they cut him.



The Red Sox are claiming they have no idea what the outcome will be. So if they fired Cora for this then they know they're guilty. I'm holding out hope they're not, but I'm not stupid. I can't imagine Cora wouldn't have suggested it when he move to Fenway. If someone in the clubhouse, or a few people, stood up and said no, then why fire him? They know they didn't do it. Maybe they felt they had too, but I think what you suggest is more likely.

However, if that's the case then it doesn't look good hiring Roenicke, Cora's bench coach, as their manager, interim or not. I know they didn't have much time to look around, but if they're found guilty it's going to look very much like "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".
 
I've not dug into any of the analysis beyond what you linked in the first post @Merckx index , maybe I need to have a look around more now. I remember that all of the individuals they looked at had pretty big upticks in hits against off-speed pitches at home, but they hadn't looked at left pitches, is that still correct?
The best data have been published by Tony Adams, an Astro fan, who recorded every single pitch that was or was not signaled by one or more bangs in home games in 2017.

http://signstealingscandal.com/

He has data for the 60/81 home games for which video was available. Some of the conclusions emerging from this are:

1) Some Astros were signaled much more than others. Particularly interesting is Jose Altuve, who won the MVP that year, and had a month or two for the ages beginning in June, when the sign stealing scheme really took off. You would think he benefitted a lot, but in fact only about 3% of the pitches he saw were associated with bangs. Other players had much higher rates, e.g., Bregman and Springer about 16%, Marwin Gonzalez 25%. We don't know why this was the case; Carlos Correa insisted that Altuve told everyone he didn't want to use the system. To make the situation more complex, even in a single game, a batter might get signaled during some plate appearances, and not others. There's been speculation that maybe the Astros were using other means to signal than banging, but no confirmation of this from the team so far.

2. The banging seemed to be associated most often with breaking or off-speed pitches. More than 90% of fastballs were not signaled, so a hitter would know with pretty high certainty when a fastball was coming. On the other hand, a lot of breaking balls were not signaled, either, and multiple bangs were used, with it's not being clear, from the data, whether the number of bangs mattered.

3. An interesting analysis at FanGraphs suggests, as i noted upthread, that the biggest benefit would probably be taking more pitches outside of the zone, IOW, walking more and striking out less.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-hypothetical-value-of-an-ideal-frictionless-banging-scheme/

We don't know how much the signaling might have affected hitting, but I went through the Adams data just for one hitter, Bregman (because he was signaled a lot, and is a very good hitter, though he was't the elite hitter then that he is now), and found his contact rate was significantly higher on signaled pitches, and he put more of them in play (relative to his rates for the whole season, which would include road games). Since I was only looking at signaled ptiches,i didn't look at his contact rates on fastballs, which would probably also be available.
 

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