The Houston Astros were stealing signs through electronic means in 2017, per a report at the Athletic from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich. Mike Fiers, who was with the Astros from 2015-17, went on the record to confirm that the Astros were stealing signs at home using a video camera in center field that fed the catcher’s signs to a TV set up in the tunnel behind the dugout, while other sources who are unnamed also confirmed the information.
Fiers departed from the Astros after 2017, and Rosenthal and Drellich indicate that they cannot confirm whether that system, or something similar, was in place the past couple of years.
What’s particularly noteworthy in here is a former Astro player going public with the fact that Houston was doing this — the Astros have been suspected of pushing the boundaries of the rules, and in some cases outright cheating, for some time, but there’s a difference between the grumblings of unnamed individuals around the game and a player who was there when it was going on putting his name out there and saying it happened.
And as the article notes, there is a certain amount of debate about how much of this is specific to the Astros, and how much of it is endemic throughout baseball. The consensus has been that lots of teams are cheating, its just a matter of how much, and whether the Astros really do it more than other teams, or if they are just better at it (and are more likely to be called out because of the industry-wide disdain for how they conduct themselves).
Danny Farquhar talks about an instance where he caught the Astros stealing signs and signalling when a changeup was called, which appears to have been identified as the game below, in case you want to see what’s happening:
I think this is the game that Farquhar is talking about (video at a little after 2:58:30). The changeup sign is put down, then you can hear two bangs (even on the broadcast!), and then Farquhar steps off to switch the signs.https://t.co/dmKADpJQdA https://t.co/D3jFJKZKny pic.twitter.com/PyPMMR8DZl— Lucas Apostoleris (@DBITLefty) November 12, 2019
As the article points out, given that MLB is investigating the Astros in connection with the Brandon Taubman fiasco, and given that Taubman is potentially in a position to provide MLB with a lot of information about what the Astros were doing, this could get a lot bigger.
UPDATE — Here’s a detailed breakdown:
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019