September 17, 2021

How Much Did the Astros Really Benefit from Sign-Stealing? (FanGraphs)

With the offseason moving at it’s now customarily glacial pace, the story that’s dominated the baseball headlines for the past week has been the Astros sign-stealing scandal. Since the first story was published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic last Tuesday, we’ve seen bits of evidence confirming the Astros strategy: a crude system of live monitors and a trash can to relay the incoming pitch type to the batter. On Friday, Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus provided audio evidence from the TV broadcasts, on which the whacking of the trash can can be identified and analyzed. Rosenthal and Drellich followed up their post with another revelation that the Astros were exploring different ways to electronically steal signs. And then there’s the video evidence pulled from the 2017 Astros World Series documentary showing a computer — sometimes a monitor, sometimes a laptop — in the tunnel leading to the dugout with a trash can nearby.

MLB is still conducting its own investigation, but the evidence that’s been dug up publicly is pretty damning. Sign-stealing has always been part of the game, but the Astros crossed the line when they began using…

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