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Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins, and How the Astros Cheated Minnesota

minnesota twins houston astros marwin gonzalez phil hughes jose berrios
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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 09:00 PM

The sign stealing allegations have ran rampant regarding the 2017 Houston Astros, and penalties have already been levied. Lurking in the background was Tony Adams, an Astros fan that did his own digging, and now we have some crosshairs right on how the Twins were impacted.Back in early January Nick Nelson wrote about how the Twins may have been impacted by cheaters. We know that Houston and Boston were involved, but we aren’t sure how far that reach expanded. Thanks to Tony, who Marc Carig did a great job speaking with over at The Athletic, we now can see a pretty direct picture of the tainted Twins happenings.

Here’s the thing, it actually appears like the Astros started off the year relatively clean. Maybe they were feeling out their new system, or maybe it was around the time that A.J. Hinch went on his smashing spree. Nonetheless, it was in July that Minnesota traveled to Minute Maid Park, and it was game one that produced the second most egregious results of the regular season.



During the three-game series in Texas, Twins pitchers threw 472 pitches. Of those, there were trash can bangs on 112 pitches, a whopping 24%. In game one, 48 of a total 179 (27%) pitches were tipped off. 84 total pitches thrown that day were not fastballs. That means Houston hitters knew, at a 57% clip, when they’d see a breaking pitch during that specific game.

Not surprisingly, the results suggested this was the case as well. Houston scored 10 runs that day, hanging seven on starter Jose Berrios. Phil Hughes came on to get the final out in the second inning but was tagged for three runs on five hits while allowing two dingers on his own. The Astros grabbed 10 runs before Minnesota was able to record nine outs. Good day at the office to be sure, but certainly not as impressive when it’s coming in on a tee. The Twins fared better in game two and three, splitting the affairs, but 64 more Rubbermaid bangs were used over the course of that action.



Hughes had opined when the original story broke that this was a game he thought back to. Knowing it was the one time he pitched against the Astros on the road, and proceeded to get lit up, it isn’t a surprise it would stick in his memory. His tweets today immediately pointed to that performance and give significant credibility to the advantages Houston had.

More bad news is that it wasn’t just the 2017 Twins who felt the impact of these exploits. Matthew Trueblood recently wrote how Marwin Gonzalez likely benefitted from Houston’s scheme. He posted a career best OPS, and despite favorable numbers on the road, Nick Nelson pointed out a wOBA that jumped off the page in the friendly confines of Fresh Squeezed Park.

What’s more, the analysis provided by Mr. Adams shows that Marwin didn’t only participate, but he may have been a ringleader. No Astros player was given more hints as to what was coming than Gonzalez received. If he knew breaking pitches were coming that often, it’s pretty apparent why he would have posted career bests across the board.



There’s a ton to unpack here and heading over to signstealingscandal.com will allow you to dig to your hearts' content. It’s interesting that Jose Altuve was the batter at the plate the least when the garbage can rang out, but if he was wearing an electronic device as suggested then there’s probably less of a need to be involved. Former, and very short-term, New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran appears near the top of the leaderboard which isn’t a surprise given his named involvement.

At the end of the day, this whole orchestration will go down as one of baseball’s greatest transgressions. A wild card-reaching Twins team was definitely exploited on the arms of Berrios and Hughes, and a current utility man will likely have question marks follow his production wherever he goes. This doesn’t change punishments or make any new ones more likely, but it definitely points to the negative impact on the Twins as being more drastic than on most other teams

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#2 h2oface

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:48 PM

I wonder how long Marwin has with the Twins. This has to affect how he is regarded by his teammates, no? While I am personally not someone who really cares about sign stealing, and feels the method is not important, if the goal/result is the same...... it is surely not the majority opinion, nor MLBs, and certainly not the players. This has to make him a tainted person in the clubhouse. I don't see how it can be good for "chemistry".


#3 by jiminy

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 11:23 PM

The Twins were robbed in another way, too, by paying for prediction from Gonzales that will never happen again without cheating.
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#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 12:33 AM

 

I wonder how long Marwin has with the Twins. This has to affect how he is regarded by his teammates, no? While I am personally not someone who really cares about sign stealing, and feels the method is not important, if the goal/result is the same...... it is surely not the majority opinion, nor MLBs, and certainly not the players. This has to make him a tainted person in the clubhouse. I don't see how it can be good for "chemistry".

 

I don't think this will have any effect on Gonzalez's relationship with his teammates. There are guys in that clubhouse who have been suspended for PEDs. They got to know Gonzalez all of last year. I may be wrong and it may cause issues, I will just be shocked. 

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#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 12:35 AM

 

The Twins were robbed in another way, too, by paying for prediction from Gonzales that will never happen again without cheating.

 

People have one good year all the time and use it to get paid. Gonzalez had a breakout year in 2017. He had a regular Marwin Gonzalez year in 2018 (when we know that the Astros were still doing stuff)... The Twins knew what they were getting in Gonzalez... Solid hitter who provides a ton of versatility. I don't think that any of this alters that thinking or what they thought they were getting. There's a reason he didn't get anywhere near what most thought he would get a year ago.

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#6 twins_89

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 03:16 AM

One side note to the sign stealing is that the impact was more than just the times when a breaking ball was signaled. There is also value in knowing that a breaking ball is not coming (no banging). In that instance hitters could sit on a fastball with a higher degree of confidence.

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#7 Dome Dogg

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 04:50 AM

Here’s a “fun” question no one is asking: what if the Twins hitting a MLB record of home runs the first year Marwin is in town isn’t just a coincidence?
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#8 Blackjack

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 06:00 AM

You'd think other teams would have picked up on this 'trash can banging' noise and reported it??!  


#9 Dome Dogg

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 06:08 AM

 

You'd think other teams would have picked up on this 'trash can banging' noise and reported it??!  

As the story goes, many teams and players noticed something was up, but MLB swept it under the rug until Fiers took the nuclear option and went public. 

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"Kid, don't you think there's a problem when you get that excited over a seeing-eye single?"


#10 JDubs

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 06:51 AM

 

As the story goes, many teams and players noticed something was up, but MLB swept it under the rug until Fiers took the nuclear option and went public. 

Even worse, when people brought it up, Hinch and others on the team repeatedly mocked them as sore losers coming up with wild excuses for why they couldn't beat the Astros.

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#11 cardsfan

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 07:12 AM

Not too long ago:

https://news.google....S&gl=US&ceid=US
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#12 TNTwinsFan

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 07:17 AM

Here’s a “fun” question no one is asking: what if the Twins hitting a MLB record of home runs the first year Marwin is in town isn’t just a coincidence?



#13 blindeke

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 07:48 AM

Watching these Astros/Twins games is infuriating. I'd urge you to click through and watch some of the games. (Links are on the site.)

 

Astros players cheating, scoring, then high-fiving as if they'd just done it all themselves. The Twins pitchers getting mauled and looking depressed. 

 

It's much, much easier to hit well when you literally know what pitch is coming. Completely unfair and dishonest, and really pulls the rug out from baseball as an enjoyable and competitive sport.

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#14 NorthStarNines

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 08:41 AM

There are measurable contributing factors that can explain a lot of the Twins record home run production. If you look at launch angles, Twins hitters have been taking advantage of new analytical technology to improve their launch angles and hit more bombas. There's also the juiced ball, which MLB/Rawlings denies, but hard data backs up. Besides those measurable things, there was Nelson Cruz bringing his experience as one of the best hitters in the game, a bunch of young players all hitting their prime years at the same time (Kepler, Sano, etc.), and a Twins coaching staff with an innovative approach to rest/player health. I'm not saying it's not at all possible, but I don't believe it happened, and there are a lot of reasons for the Twins success in 2019.

 

Here’s a “fun” question no one is asking: what if the Twins hitting a MLB record of home runs the first year Marwin is in town isn’t just a coincidence?

 

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#15 KFEY93

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 08:52 AM

I personally can NOT WAIT for the regular season to start and have the Astros get abused by other teams fans at EVERY game. Its going to be glorious. I hope they dont even win 70 games. ( Unlikely) but man that would feel good. 

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#16 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 08:57 AM

 

Here’s a “fun” question no one is asking: what if the Twins hitting a MLB record of home runs the first year Marwin is in town isn’t just a coincidence?

I guess I don't see the correlation? The Twins aren't cheating, and he isn't using PEDs, so what advantage would he bring?

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#17 SomeGuy

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 08:58 AM

An interesting note before saying that Marwins 2017 was solely a result of cheating, we know that the trashcan usage began mid season. Below are Marwin's splits for 2017.

 

1st half .308/.391/.576, wRC+ 160, BABIP .338

2nd half .299/.363/.485, wRC+ 128, BABIP .348

 

May was by far his best month with an insane .382/.461/.737, wRC+ 217

 

https://www.houstonc...ut-14972308.php

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#18 woolywoolhouse

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 08:59 AM

My guess: for the first few weeks of the 2020 season, Marwin is going to hear garbage can banging when he comes to the plate from some unhappy fans in the crowd.

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#19 mikelink45

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 09:27 AM

No matter what the cause, Gonzalez has just this year left on his contract and his career with the Twins.We have Lewis, Gordon, Blankenship coming up and utility is a good place for at least one of them.  

With Donaldson we now have all the positions plugged in and there is less need for Gonzalez to force his way into the lineup.

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#20 SomeGuy

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Posted 30 January 2020 - 09:37 AM

 

I guess I don't see the correlation? The Twins aren't cheating, and he isn't using PEDs, so what advantage would he bring?

How do we know we weren't cheating is what he is saying. The Red Sox improved on the system in 2018 by eliminating the not so subtle trashcan approach the Astros used. For all we know Gonzalez found a new way too. It is believed that using tech to steal signs was more wide spread than 2 teams. He is just raising the question that maybe Marwin brought ideas of how to do that.

 

Nothing suggests this actually happened but it could have happened. The Astrosgot away with it and we only found out because of a rat. Pretty much every player admits that if they can steal the other teams signs they will. So i don't think it is outside the realm of possibility that the Twins did but it is unlikely. Finding out that at a minimum 2 of the last 3 world series were won by teams cheating but not learning about it until well after the fact suggests how easy it is to get away with this.

 

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