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Video: Billy Hamilton makes the lowest-probability catch of 2018

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Reds center fielder (and speed demon) Billy Hamilton showed off his superb defense on Sunday, sprinting along the warning track to make an inning-ending catch in the first frame of the club’s series finale against the Pirates. Even given Hamilton’s lengthy highlight reel of spectacular outfield catches, this was a rare moment: According to Statcast, there was a 2% probability of making the catch, which helped the 27-year-old outfielder tie the record for the lowest-probability catch of 2018.

If it looked like a terrific distance to run, it was: Hamilton covered 83 feet in just 4.3 seconds. (Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, that’s good enough for a 30.6 feet-per-second pace.)

Despite Hamilton’s first-inning heroics, it didn’t take long for the Pirates to get on the board. Colin Moran led off the second inning with a home run that finally evaded the center fielder’s grasp, followed by another long solo shot from Gregory Polanco in the fifth. The Reds responded with an RBI groundout, single, double and home run, however, and currently lead the Bucs 6-2 in the sixth.

Astros fan logs trash can bangs from 2017

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A fascinating and no doubt time consuming research project was released this morning. An Astros fan by the name of Tony Adams went through every Astros home game in the 2017 season and logged trash can bangs. Which, as you know, was the mechanism via which Astros players in the clubhouse signaled to hitters which pitch was coming.

Adams listened to every pitch from the Astros’ 2017 home games and made a note of any banging noise he could detect. There were 20 home games for which he did not have access to video. There were three “home” games which took place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the team being displaced by hurricane Harvey and for which, obviously, the Astros’ camera setup from Minute Maid Park would not have been applicable.

Adams logged over 8,200 pitches and found banging before over 1,100 of those pitches. He graphed which players got the most bangs during their at batsMarwin Gonzalez got the most, with bangs coming before 147 of 776 pitches seen, followed by George Springer, who got bangs on 139 of 933. José Altuve had the least among regulars, with only 24 bangs in 866 pitches. One gets the sense that, perhaps, he felt that the banging would interfere with his normal pitch recognition process or something. Either way it’s worth noting that a lack of banging was also signal. Specifically, for a fastball. As such, Astros hitters were helped on a much higher percentage of pitches than what is depicted in the graphs themselves.

Adams reminds us that Commissioner Manfred’s report stated that the Astros also used hand-clapping, whistling, and yelling early in the season before settling on trash can banging. Those things were impossible to detect simply by watching video. As it is, Adams’ graphs of bangs-per-game shows that the can-banging plan dramatically ramped-up on May 28.

It’s hard to say anything definitive about the scope and effectiveness of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme based on this study alone. Adams may or may not have been hearing everything and, as he notes, there may have been a lot more pitches relayed thought means other than trash can banging than we know. Alternatively it’s possible that Adams was marking some sounds as bangs that were not, in fact, Astros players sending signals to the batter. It’s probably an inexact science.

Still, this is an impressive undertaking that no doubt took a ton of time. And it at least begins to provide a glimpse into the Astros’ sign-stealing operation.