With spring training starting, the Houston Astros have to face the media about their cheating scandal, team owner Jim Crane presented an awful “apology”.
It is crazy to think that it was only two years ago that I was standing on my couch yelling to do something, as in Game 7 the Yankees failed to score. Two years later, we got the news from the Athletic that the Houston Astros were cheating the whole time, using a complex sign relaying system using prohibited technology in center field. This cheating scandal was arguably the biggest in baseball history.
Today, the Houston Astros were supposed to apologize for the part they played in cheating. However instead, Astros owner Jim Crane said one of the worst things you could possibly say in the situation, and that is “The Yankees have had a few comments out there. Our opinion is that it didn’t impact the (outcome) of the game.” Yes, the Astros have many talented players using cheating or not. However, one of the reasons the Houston Astros were so good that season was because of the supporting cast. Guys like Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez had had break out seasons with the Astros in 2019.
To start with one of the products of the banging, we look at Marwin Gonzalez. In 2017, Gonzalez had a 144 wRC+, .382 wOBA, .226 ISO, and a total of 4 fWAR. In 2018, Gonzalez dropped to a 103 wRC+, .318 wOBA, .162 ISO, and a 1.5 fWAR. In the next season, Gonzalez’s wRC+ declined by 41, going to 103, and his ISO dropping 64 points to .162. Using the bang tracker made by an Astros fan, Gonzalez had a grand total of 18.9% (147/776). Assuming the data collected was accurate, we can see that he was a main perpetrator of the cheating scandal. Take away Gonzalez’s 4 wins, we can estimate the Astros are down to about 97 games won. Still a good mark, but this takes away their 101 win season. So was Gonzalez valuable to the Astros? Yes he was. Did his value skyrocket for the Astros because he used the cheating system? Most definitely. So with Gonzalez, we can conclude that his numbers were inflated by the Astros cheating.
Taking a look at another player, Jake Marisnick (who is now a member of the Mets), had a similar spike in production as Gonzalez. In 2017 with the Houston Astros, Marisnick had a 117 wRC+, .343 wOBA, .252 ISO, and a 1.4 fWAR. However in the next season, Marisnick’s wRC+ dropped down by 33 to 84, his wOBA dropping 45 points to .298, and his ISO dropping by 64 points going to .188. Using the banging tracker made by the Astros fan, 22.8% of his pitches had bangs on them (83/364). Once again assuming the Astros Fan’s data collected is accurate, it is also safe to say that Marisnick declined massively. Can we definitely say he was another main perpetrator of the cheating system? Yes we can.
Overall, the data collected really makes Crane sound like an idiot, as it was clear that the banging did in fact help the Astros win. A couple other notable players that used the banging to high percentages was George Springer (14.9%), Tyler White (26.4%), Evan Gattis (16.6%), Carlos Correa (16.3%), and Yulieski Gurriel (17.6%). A thing to keep in mind is that the bangs were only on breaking balls, so if there was no bang it was a safe assumption to the perpetrators of the cheating that a fastball was in fact coming.
Overall, Crane’s comments in his “apology” infuriate me because it is clear that the cheating helped the Astros win, and him being a pompous jerk about it does not in fact help.