Are The Yankees Stealing Signs?

Last night, Yorvit Torrealba accused Andruw Jones of stealing signs from second base as the Yankees lit up Derek Holland. Holland’s final line (5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 0 K, 2 HR) would support the idea that the Yankees knew what was coming before he threw it, but it would also support the idea that Holland just pitched really badly. So, to test the theory of whether the Yankees have seen a boost in offensive performance when they had a runner on second base (who could steal signs), I decided to look at the data.

Yankees, 2011:

Bases Empty: .256/.349/.436
Runner on First: .268/.320/.530
Runner on Second: .209/.355/.328
Runner on Third: .368/.403/.561
First and Second: .207/.261/.378
First and Third: .390/.415/.805
Second and Third: .171/.397/.371

With one runner on base, the Yankees have performed the worst if that runner is on second base. With two men on base, the Yankees have performed worst in the two situations where a runner is on second base. Their two best performances, by far, have come when they do not have a runner on second base.

This isn’t a definitive study, of course, but if the Yankees were stealing signs and that actually helped them hit, you’d expect to find some evidence of improved performance in that situation. That we find exactly the opposite, even in a small sample of data, suggests to me that Torrealba is either reacting to nothing or that sign stealing is a really terrible idea.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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11 years ago

Maybe they ran these numbers as well, and just started stealing signs to try to combat their issues with runners on second?