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Marwin Gonzalez was a big fat cheater—but it didn’t do him any good.

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In this case at least, the cheater didn’t prosper

MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Adams is an Astros fan. If I were an Astros fan, I’d be having a very difficult time coping with the MLB’s recent revelations. Tony’s method of doing was to exhaustively catalog a year’s worth of baseball, and break down exactly who benefited from the trash can bangin’, and when. Tony is a dedicated man, and I admire that, but more importantly, his data lets us look at the one 2017 Astro’s hitter I really care about — current Twin Marwin Gonzalez.

Right now I want to focus on the second of the two charts Tony tweeted out. That’s going to be the one showing which players had the greatest benefit of the cheating scandal. Way, way up in the top right corner you find the players who saw the most total pitches, and had the most total trashcan bangs. That’s where you find Marwin. No player on the Astros had a greater raw number of bangs than Marwin did (Jake Marisnick had a higher percent, but less pitches.) He was the beneficiary of a signal on 147 out of 776 pitches, or 18.9% of the time.

So, if the MLB has told us there is irrefutable evidence that the 2017 Astros were cheating by using trashcan banging to signal what pitch was coming to batters, and we know that Marwin had the can-banging in many of his at-bats, then we can safely say that he was a part of conspiracy. Did it have a positive impact on his stats though?

During the 2017 season, Gonzalez hit .303/.377/.530 with 23 bombas. For his career, he is a .264/.319/.418 hitter, and he’s averaging 16 home runs per 162 games. In 2017, its pretty clear that Marwin was hitting at an elevated pace.

According to this dataset, Gonzalez had exactly six pitches with the bangs prior to June 11th. By looking at his stats before-and-after this date, we can get a better idea of how it impacted his hitting. If his “hot season” was already underway prior to June 11th, then the actual impact of the cheating become murky. If he started colder but got hot after that point, then it clearly helped him.

From March 1st, 2017 through June 10th, 2017 Marwin Gonzalez hit .322/.412/.630 with 12 dingers. He struck out 18% of the time, and walked 11.8% of the time. We can essentially call these the “pre-banging stats.” From June 11th through September 24th we get the “post-banging stats.” Gonzalez hit .283/.343/.466 with his other 12 homers. His strikeout rate was 21% and his walk rate was 7.5%. These were not the stats I was expecting.

Despite being one of the most frequent beneficiaries of the Astros cheating scandal in the second half of 2017, Gonzalez actually hit significantly better before than after. So even if he was involved in the cheating, he didn’t benefit in any quantifiable way. It is plausible that he would have been even worse in the second half without the help, but it can’t be proven. The other caveat is that the Astros may have used other signals which are not in this data set, so he may have been the beneficiary of cheating at an earlier date.

One other mini-fact from this data set, the Twins played in Houston from Jul 14th-16th, and lost two-of-three to the Astros. During those three games, the Astros were banging trash cans heavily. In game one, there were 48 instances identified. In game two, the one the Twins won, there were 37. The third game had 27 identified trash can bangs. I’m not sure that changes anything, but its interesting to know.

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Does this information have a negative impact on your opinion of Marwin Gonazalez

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  • 57%
    Yes
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  • 42%
    No
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