“If the Yankees are stealing signs, they suck at it”
Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba made headlines by yelling at Andruw Jones during Wednesday’s game for what he believed was stealing signs and relaying them to other Yankees hitters while at second base.
Mark Teixeira revealed that Torrealba also complained to him about the same thing during Tuesday’s game, Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters that Alex Rodriguez is known for stealing signs, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi naturally didn’t like the entire line of questioning.
Meanwhile, there are two interesting issues at play here. One is that, even if the Yankees are stealing signs, so what? That goes on all the time with most and perhaps even all teams, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s the other team’s responsibility to keep their signs under wraps as long as the thieves aren’t being extraordinarily obvious about the whole thing. Torrealba even indicated that he thought it was a relatively minor offense and was simply trying to crack down on it.
Beyond that is the issue of whether or not the Yankees are significantly helping themselves by stealing signs and ... well, the evidence seems to suggest no. Or as David Cameron of Fan Graphs put it via Twitter last night: “With a runner on second base the Yankees have a .683 OPS. If they’re stealing signs, they suck at it.”
Sure enough, New York has hit .208 with a .683 OPS when a runner is on second base, which is much worse than their hitting .260 with a .798 OPS overall and .258 with a .787 OPS with no runners on base. Not quite conclusively proof either way, since the sign-stealing surely doesn’t go on every time a runner reaches second base, but situations like the one that angered Torrealba haven’t exactly allowed Yankees hitters to dominate.