There's really no playbook for the processing of the Astros' sign stealing scandal by opposing teams and fan bases. The previous "biggest MLB scandal of our lives" was the overabundance of steroid abuse back in the late' 90s and early 2000s, but the targets of fan scorn in that case were individual players. The Astros are a single team, and until the Red Sox get their sign stealing punishment next week, the Astros are the rightful lighting rod for anger, disgust, and now, I suppose, violence, based on Braves OF Nick Markakis' quotes below:
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis goes off on Houston Astros..— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) February 18, 2020
"Everything has been handled a bad way.. the players are scot free.. Every single guy over there needs a beating..
Full comments ?? pic.twitter.com/nAXGjleFUx
So, yes, now we have a Major League Baseball player advocating literal physical violence against every member of the 2017 Houston Astros, even the supremely lovable and ultra-clean (yeah, Dodger fan, you heard me!) Jose Altuve. I don't know how many actual fistfights are going to occur between the Astros and their opponents, or if they will get jumped in the parking lot, as it sounds like Markakis wants to do, but the oddsmakers have a take on beanballs inflicted upon your local team, Houston.
Here are the numbers, courtesy of BetOnline.ag:
Houston Astros players total hit-by-pitch in 2020 Regular Season
Houston Astros players to charge mound 2020 Regular Season
Under 1½ Charges -300 (1/3)
Over 1½ Charges +200 (2/1)
Most Hit by Pitch 2020 Regular Season
Alex Bregman 1/1
George Springer 2/1
Jose Altuve 3/1
Carlos Correa 7/2
OK, let's break this down. Let's start with the total number of players hit-by-pitch in the 2020 regular season. Last season, teams had batters that were hit by an average of 66.1 pitches, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Astros were right around the average, with their hitters hit 66 times last season. The league leaders last season were the New York Mets with 95 batters hit, so obviously there's little correlation between HBP's and on field success.
I am going to go with UNDER 80.5 Astro batters hit. In the end, the opposing pitchers will be entering the season with serious warnings about retaliation, and the Astros will still be a team against whom pitchers will not want to frivolously place runners on base. Along those same lines, I would go UNDER 1.5 (-300) players charging the mound. The Astros have a World Series to win, they don't need to waste time with petty bickering over beanings.
As for the big board of batters to lead the team in HBP's. Let's first list the players on the odds board, and their 2019 HBP numbers. Here's who actually led this group of players in HBP's without the specter of retaliation hanging over their heads last year:
Alex Bregman ... 9
George Springer ... 6
Jose Altuve ... 2
Carlos Correa ... 2
Correa would seem to be the value play based on how much talking he's done the last few days, in defense of his teammates and attacking the opposing teams' falsehood-spreading clowns. However, you have to be concerned about injury with Correa. Altuve is a really poor value play, because I think opposing teams know, deep down, that he was innocent of all charges, including the use of buzzers. That leaves us with Springer and Bregman, and this one is easy. Between durability and pure hate-ability, BREGMAN at even money is the play.
So, go get some, folks! If you're team is going to get incessantly beaned out of spite, you might as well sit back and profit from it.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.