The Astros were the best team in Major League Baseball throughout the regular season, winning a franchise-high and MLB-best 107 games. Through their first two rounds of the postseason, though, there has been controversy surrounding the team with accusations being lobbied against them that their success has come from sign-stealing or from opposing pitchers tipping their pitches against the team. Alex Bregman says the allegations aren’t true.
What is pitch tipping?
Pitch tipping is when a hitter knows what type of pitch the pitcher is going to throw via some kind of “tell” the pitcher is showing. Knowing what pitch type is coming up gives a hitter an advantage, by being able to prepare his swing accordingly whether he is expecting a fastball or something off-speed.
If a hitter is able to read a pitcher’s tell when he is tipping, it is a strategic advantage to the offense but it is not illegal. There is nothing in the MLB rules that prohibit hitters from “reading” tipped pitches. If a batter is able to figure out the pitcher’s tells, he has every right to use that to his advantage during an at-bat, and to share the information with his teammates.
Pitch tipping in the playoffs
During Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rays, the Astros scored four runs in the first inning against Ray’s pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, who people were noticing during the game was clearly tipping his pitches.
The game broadcast even showed Alex Bregman sharing the information with Carlos Correa before Correa’s at-bat. Reading Bregman’s lips, you could see he was explaining that Glasnow was throwing a fastball when his glove was up and a curveball if the glove was down.
After that, the Yankees seemed to be paranoid during the ALCS that the Astros were either getting information against them from pitch tipping or sign stealing. Fox analyst and former Yankee Alex Rodriguez even tweeted that the Astros were picking up on what Yankees SP Luis Severino was throwing in Game 3 of the series.
Alex Bregman denies allegations against the Astros
Alex Bregman, who is in the conversation with the Angels’ Mike Trout in the American League MVP race, denies the Yankees’ allegations. Mark Berman, a sports reporter with Houston’s Fox 26, tweeted out video of Bregman denying that Severino was tipping pitches in the ALCS.
Bregman says he wishes he knew what Severino was throwing and seemed disappointed that people weren’t giving the Astros the credit they deserve for being good hitters, saying “every time we get hits now, I think everyone thinks somebody’s tipping. But we’re just trying to compete (and) put together good at-bats.”
Alex Bregman then continued and, referencing A-Rod’s allegation of Severino tipping pitches, said he would like A-Rod to “help us out & let us know” what Severino would be throwing.
Growing paranoia about pitch tipping
Astros manager A.J. Hinch addressed the situation, and about pitch tipping in general. Hinch says there is a growing paranoia in the game about pitch tipping, saying that it “has grown to a level unlike any other era of baseball” that he has been involved with.
He says the paranoia is “real across all 30 teams.” He continued, placing the blame for tipping on pitchers, who he says “should take consideration into doing the same thing over and over.” He also detailed some steps that the Astros take to ensure their pitchers aren’t tipping, and that the Astros “take great precaution in changing signs, talking to our pitchers, looking at video, making sure we’re not giving anything away.”
Hinch expressed his belief that the paranoia over tipping pitches shouldn’t “overshadow the quality of players or what’s going on on the field.”