The Athletic: The Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 part of a much broader issue for Major League Baseball

IpswichSox

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The Los Angeles Times attempts to capture the mood at the Dodgers’ fanfest on whether the players hold a grudge about losing to Houston in 2017.
Most of them [the players] wore sunglasses, so you couldn’t see it in their eyes. Their expressions were blank, so you couldn’t recognize it in their faces. But during FanFest that became VentFest, biting words draped in somber tones made their feelings clear.

The Dodgers are mad as hell.

In their first baseball-related interviews Saturday since they learned they were cheated out of the 2017 World Series by the sign-stealing Houston Astros, the Dodgers seethed.

They’re infuriated, they’re injured, and you could hear it. There was smoldering anger in baseball boss Andrew Friedman’s answer to my question about whether the Astros had shown enough remorse.
The columnist also wrote that Dave Roberts had “buried fury” and Enrique Hernandez answered reporter’s questions with “pure heat.”
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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The Astros really ARE taking this seriously: they just ensured they won't be winning the World Series for however many years he's been signed on to manage.
 

crow216

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I'm with all of you. Feels like the Astros just took a major step back from AJH. I'm not going to underestimate them in 2020 but boy, they look like the old Astros more than the new Astros right now.
 

jon abbey

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The comments here on Baker make me proud to be a SOSHite, all I have seen elsewhere so far is what a great hire he is/will be. The dude is 70, good luck to the analytic dept trying to interact with him.
 

bosockboy

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If i did that, I think Id be hearing trashcans being banged in my sleep. 1 bang for every 7.5 pitched? First of all, I wish I was that lucky. Secondly that is an incredible commitment to cheating to which that even the Russian Olympic committee would be impressed.
and has no accounting for non bangs which probably signified something. Deeply systematic over a full season.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Say what you will about Dusty, but all his teams do is win, and his players speak highly of him. And he didn’t shred anyone’s arm in Cincinnati or Washington.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Aaron Harang might beg to differ.
If Wikipedia is to be believed, Harang never spent time on the DL with any arm-related injury. His career highs in appearances and innings both predate Baker’s Reds tenure.
His teams haven't won a postseason series in his most recent 11 seasons managing, the last one to do so was the 88-74 2003 Cubs.
Is “the postseason is a SSS crapshoot” not a thing anymore?
 

tonyandpals

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Just a quick look at the raw data is alarming. I looked at ABs that resulted in a HR, that had at least one bang, just for giggles.

player| at_bat_event| pitch_type_code| pitch_category| has_bangs| bangs| call_code| description|


28270
Bang on the 1st pitch breaking ball (taken), quiet for the 2nd pitch fastball.

28271
A couple of takes with no bangs to start the AB w/ no bangs. Takes two more pitches with bangs (breaking balls). No bang, takes the fast ball. Sixth pitch, bang, breaking ball, homers.

28272
Takes a quiet fastball, then a banging breaking ball. Takes again on 3rd pitch (no bang so he was looking FB most likely, but was a breaking ball in the dirt). 4th pitch is a banger, change up. 5th pitch, banger, knows off speed is coming, gone.

28273
No bang so swings at the first pitch FB and fouls it off, lays off the next to bangers, both curvers. No bang on the 4th pitch fastball, home run.

28274
No bang, takes the fastball. Banger, takes the breaking ball. No bang, launches the fastball.

28275
Takes the no bang FB. Fouls the next no bang FC. Takes the banging breaking ball. Launches the no bang fastball.

28276
No bang fastball take. Two takes on banging off speed pitches. Swings at 4th pitch fastball with no bang...

28277
Pretty similar here. Two off speed banging takes. HR on the quiet fastaball.

28278
Quiet take of the FB. Quiet take of the breaking ball, probably was mad they didn't signal this one right. Back on track with the take of the banging breaking ball. 4th pitch, hears the bang, confident they have it right, HR on the breaking ball.

28279
Takes the first pitch banging breaking ball. Swings at the next one, gone.

I can't attach any more pics (10 limit) but the last one was Bregman taking a quiet fastball, laying off two banging off speed pitches, foulding off a quiet fastball, and homering on a quiet fastball.

Oh one more, JD davis, takes breaking ball (no bang, missed it), takes quiet fastball, takes banging breaking ball, swings and missed at quiet fastball, swings and homers on quite fastball.

This was not hard to break down at all, manually. Could be scripted to get the results of each AB with banging pretty easily. But MLB won't spend the time to pinpoint this type of stuff and pin it on any players. Way too hard to do what I did in 15 minutes...

edit: added header column definitions
 
Last edited:

YTF

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Just a quick look at the raw data is alarming. I looked at ABs that resulted in a HR, that had at least one bang, just for giggles.

player| at_bat_event| pitch_type_code| pitch_category| has_bangs| bangs| call_code| description|


View attachment 28270
Bang on the 1st pitch breaking ball (taken), quiet for the 2nd pitch fastball.

View attachment 28271
A couple of takes with no bangs to start the AB w/ no bangs. Takes two more pitches with bangs (breaking balls). No bang, takes the fast ball. Sixth pitch, bang, breaking ball, homers.

View attachment 28272
Takes a quiet fastball, then a banging breaking ball. Takes again on 3rd pitch (no bang so he was looking FB most likely, but was a breaking ball in the dirt). 4th pitch is a banger, change up. 5th pitch, banger, knows off speed is coming, gone.

View attachment 28273
No bang so swings at the first pitch FB and fouls it off, lays off the next to bangers, both curvers. No bang on the 4th pitch fastball, home run.

View attachment 28274
No bang, takes the fastball. Banger, takes the breaking ball. No bang, launches the fastball.

View attachment 28275
Takes the no bang FB. Fouls the next no bang FC. Takes the banging breaking ball. Launches the no bang fastball.

View attachment 28276
No bang fastball take. Two takes on banging off speed pitches. Swings at 4th pitch fastball with no bang...

View attachment 28277
Pretty similar here. Two off speed banging takes. HR on the quiet fastaball.

View attachment 28278
Quiet take of the FB. Quiet take of the breaking ball, probably was mad they didn't signal this one right. Back on track with the take of the banging breaking ball. 4th pitch, hears the bang, confident they have it right, HR on the breaking ball.

View attachment 28279
Takes the first pitch banging breaking ball. Swings at the next one, gone.

I can't attach any more pics (10 limit) but the last one was Bregman taking a quiet fastball, laying off two banging off speed pitches, foulding off a quiet fastball, and homering on a quiet fastball.

Oh one more, JD davis, takes breaking ball (no bang, missed it), takes quiet fastball, takes banging breaking ball, swings and missed at quiet fastball, swings and homers on quite fastball.

This was not hard to break down at all, manually. Could be scripted to get the results of each AB with banging pretty easily. But MLB won't spend the time to pinpoint this type of stuff and pin it on any players. Way too hard to do what I did in 15 minutes...

edit: added header column definitions
Thanks for the work here. Not so sure MLB won't or hasn't spent the time, but I'm fairly certain they wouldn't release the results.
 

SoxFish

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Jul 18, 2005
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The volume of praise, and complete dearth of criticism, for the Dusty hiring is mind boggling to me. Have any of you read Sawchik's and Lindbergh's MVP Machine? It's an extraordinary book about the use of data and modern techniques in player development. The Astros were at the fore-front of the movement. They assembled their FO, managers, coaches, scouts and development staff as an integrated team throughout all levels of their system, working together off the same play book. They got rid of people who didn't buy-in completely. And they created a great system (trash banging or not) that resulted in a deep collection of talent, which they constantly are improving through their non-conformist methods. Are they ditching that completely now? Must anything Luhnow created be rejected as "fruit of the poisonous tree." Baker certainly has shown no desire in the past to be a part of that type of system (one which, BTW, does not give the manager autocratic power)? And when do 70 year old managers change their ways? I really don't get this.
 

YTF

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The volume of praise, and complete dearth of criticism, for the Dusty hiring is mind boggling to me. Have any of you read Sawchik's and Lindbergh's MVP Machine? It's an extraordinary book about the use of data and modern techniques in player development. The Astros were at the fore-front of the movement. They assembled their FO, managers, coaches, scouts and development staff as an integrated team throughout all levels of their system, working together off the same play book. They got rid of people who didn't buy-in completely. And they created a great system (trash banging or not) that resulted in a deep collection of talent, which they constantly are improving through their non-conformist methods. Are they ditching that completely now? Must anything Luhnow created be rejected as "fruit of the poisonous tree." Baker certainly has shown no desire in the past to be a part of that type of system (one which, BTW, does not give the manager autocratic power)? And when do 70 year old managers change their ways? I really don't get this.
Just curious do you think Washington just caught up with the times since Dusty left two years ago?
 

SoxFish

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Just curious do you think Washington just caught up with the times since Dusty left two years ago?
I don't know enough about the Nats organization to answer that. To be clear, I don't think you need to have the Astros approach to win in a given year. Or that managers like Dusty can't be part of a championship team. Heck, the Astros have enough talent at the major league level that Dusty has a shot of getting to a WS next year. I do think that the Astros approach will result in more long term success (and that they jumped ahead of the Sox during the past few years). And, more importantly, I don't understand why, after they thoroughly committed to doing this, they would hire a manager that doesn't fit the equation.
 

SoxFish

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Jul 18, 2005
14
Just curious do you think Washington just caught up with the times since Dusty left two years ago?
One of the reasons I had acute interest in the Astros is that I live in the Pittsburgh area and followed the development of Morton and Cole after they were acquired by the Astros. I wanted to better understand why Morton and Cole failed to reach their potential in Pittsburgh, and then improved so quickly with the Astros (and why Verlander rejuvenated his career). Per Sawchik and Lindbergh, none of that happened by accident.
 

YTF

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I don't know enough about the Nats organization to answer that. To be clear, I don't think you need to have the Astros approach to win in a given year. Or that managers like Dusty can't be part of a championship team. Heck, the Astros have enough talent at the major league level that Dusty has a shot of getting to a WS next year. I do think that the Astros approach will result in more long term success (and that they jumped ahead of the Sox during the past few years). And, more importantly, I don't understand why, after they thoroughly committed to doing this, they would hire a manager that doesn't fit the equation.
I'm sure the vision that the Astro's have and direction that they are choosing to follow was a main topic of discussion with Baker during the interview process, I think he'll be OK in that regard as he's surrounded by the same folks that Hinch was surrounded by. I also think that given Hinch's claims that he tried to stop what was going on in '17 that this hire intends to send a message to the team and perhaps the league that things on that front will be much different. That said I didn't see Baker as a good fit for the Sox. I don't think he would have been terrible, but the Sox have many more question marks than Houston. Where I see Baker as more of a caretaker of what's in place in Houston, Chaim is still in the process of implementing his vision for the team both on and off the field. He needs to make the hire that he believes will further that vision.
 

jon abbey

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Also worth noting that HOU has no GM in place currently so presumably this hire was made by the owner Crane, and that's there's a large chance the new GM will put his own guy in for 2021, and that guy will be roughly half the age of dusty Dusty.
 

YTF

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One of the reasons I had acute interest in the Astros is that I live in the Pittsburgh area and followed the development of Morton and Cole after they were acquired by the Astros. I wanted to better understand why Morton and Cole failed to reach their potential in Pittsburgh, and then improved so quickly with the Astros (and why Verlander rejuvenated his career). Per Sawchik and Lindbergh, none of that happened by accident.
The progression of Morton and Cole in Houston has been rather impressive and Verlander's last few seasons in Detroit certainly looked like he was in decline. I'm looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for Zack Greinke.
 

InstaFace

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One of the reasons I had acute interest in the Astros is that I live in the Pittsburgh area and ...
Good ta meet yinz, then. Come hang out with the rest of us in the burgh and we'll watch a game n'at.
 

jon abbey

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This is a good argument why Baker's strengths are a good fit for HOU and his weaknesses don't matter so much in the current climate, and also arguing that he learned from his previous mistakes in his last job with WAS.

 

Danny_Darwin

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Also worth noting that HOU has no GM in place currently so presumably this hire was made by the owner Crane, and that's there's a large chance the new GM will put his own guy in for 2021, and that guy will be roughly half the age of dusty Dusty.
Between now and the 2022 season, Springer, Brantley, Verlander, Greinke, and Correa will all reach free agency (assuming nobody signs an extension). Perfect timing to hire a new manager and do another “Astros-style reboot.”
 

trs

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There's a new piece by Jason Stark and Eno Sarris on The Athletic (https://theathletic.com/1573075/2020/01/31/does-electronic-sign-stealing-work-the-astros-numbers-are-eye-popping/) that's pretty amazing to read. Apparently strike-out rates plummeted for some hitters in 2017 at rates never seen before:

A tale of two very different seasons: In 2016, Astros hitters struck out 1,452 times. That was the second-most in the American League, the fourth-most in baseball and the eighth-highest total in the history of baseball. In 2017, they set out to change that.

They changed it, all right.

They didn’t just strike out less — or even a lot less. They struck out so much less, it’s fair to use the word “historic” to describe it.

They cut their strikeouts by 365 whiffs — in one year. They went from punching out 1,452 times in 2016 to a mere 1,087 in 2017, which meant they transformed themselves from a team that was striking out at one of the highest rates in history to a team that struck out less than any team in baseball that season. And they made that transformation in just one year — not to mention a year when the other 29 teams combined to strike out nearly 1,500 more times than they’d whiffed the year before.
The piece goes on to talk about individual players and their numbers -- it's quite good.