ESPN published a lengthy investigation into the alleged sign-stealing ways of the Toronto Blue Jays today.Essentially, ESPN accused them of having a man sit in centerfield and put his arms behind his head whenever the opposing catcher called for an off-speed pitch.
Writers Amy K. Nelson and Peter Keating cited an unnamed “American League pitcher” who says he witnessed the man signaling in pitches in 2010.
“We know what you’re doing,” the pitcher says he told Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista after at the time. “If you do it again, I’m going to hit you in the [f——] head.”
Bautista acknowledged that the exchange took place, but denied that it was about stealing signs.
“First of all, I don’t even know how you can do that,” he told ESPN.
The story uses this verbal exchange, as well as the fact that both the Red Sox and the Yankees have had their suspicious about the Jays, to launch a comprehensive statistical analysis of the Jays’ home hitting stats.
Here’s some of the main pieces of statistical evidence:
- The Blue Jays scored the ninth-most runs in the majors despite having the fifth-worst on-base percentage
- The Jays hit a home run on 5.4 per cent of swings at home, compared to 4.0 per cent of swings on the road
- Several Jays players had disparities between their road OPS and home OPS.
On the one hand, this is a mountain of evidence against Toronto.
But on the other hand, the Jays have never been found guilty of anything. MLB hasn’t received a single complaint about them stealing signs.
Sign-stealing is prohibited under baseball’s “unwritten rules”, but it’s also something that multiple teams are accused of every single season.
So it feels a little arbitrary that ESPN chose to mobilize against the lowly Blue Jays.
Despite their alleged cheating, they’re 14 games back in the AL East.
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