Years after the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal rocked Major League Baseball, All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve remains the focal point of frustration from fans and players. Coming off a World Series title, the Astros are still trying to let everyone know that Altuve was never involved.
Before MLB launched its investigation into allegations of the Astros electronically stealing pitching signs from opponents, the team was surrounded by suspicion. Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers roster and coaching staff suspected Houston stole signs during the 2017 World Series, which the Astros won.
However, Houston avoided major scrutiny and a league inquiry until 2019. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich first reported allegations of the Astros stealing signs. The discovery happened because former Astros’ pitcher Miek Fiers – who pitched for Houston from 2015-’17 – served as the whistleblower to what happened.
- Jose Altuve stats (2022): .300/.307/533. 28 home runs, 103 runs, 6.6 fWAR, .921 OPS
History of Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal
MLB’s investigation found that the Astros used cameras and video monitors to steal signs of opposing catchers. Alex Cora, who at the time served as the team’s bench coach, worked with Carlos Beltrán and multiple other players to relay signs by banging a trash can to indicate what pitch was coming when they played home games at Minute Maid Park.
None of the Astros’ players faced discipline for the cheating scandal, with MLB granting them full immunity for fully cooperating with the investigation. However, the team was fined the maximum of $5 million, forfeited first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and both general manager Jeff Luhnow and skipper A.J. Hinch were fired after receiving a one-year suspension.
- Jose Altuve career stats: .307/.362/.468, .830 OPS, 1,935 hits, 192 home runs, 279 steals
MLB announced that the Astros wouldn’t be stripped of their 2017 World Series title, stating that the investigation found no evidence Houston used its sign-stealing methods during the 2017 postseason. The decision received immediate backlash from players and fans, resulting in Astros players becoming targets for retaliatory pitches during games and vitriol from opposing fans.
Jose Altuve’s alleged involvement in electronic sign-stealing
The Astros apologized in 2020, but it was met with plenty of skepticism. While video evidence seemed to show Altuve refusing to have his shirt pulled off after hitting a walk-off home run to beat the New York Yankees in the 2019 ALCS, with many believing he wore a buzzer to be told which pitch was coming, Houston has denied Altuve’s involvement for years.
Now, per Peter Gammons of The Athletic, Altuve’s teammates and coaches are once again saying that the All-Star second baseman never participated in the cheating scandal.
“Some players invited me into the clubhouse while the workout was in its later stages. They were subdued, clearly remorseful, but when I told Altuve that players, coaches and a number of people in the organization had told me that he did not participate in the sign stealing, he politely declined to discuss it, and asked that I didn’t talk about it on television, or write about it. “It would be a betrayal of my teammates.”Peter Gammons on Houston Astros denying Jose Altuve’s involvement in 2017-’19 cheating scandal
Altuve still refuses to revisit the topic, letting his statements in 2020 serve as the only time he will address it. While the Astros continue to adamantly deny he participated, it clearly still isn’t believed by fans or rivals.
He finished just 30th in hit-by-pitches (10) during the regular season, but he did miss 21 games. However, he is one of the most hated players in MLB by fans and still draws a high number of inside pitches that force him to back off the plate.
The Astros will certainly keep denying that Altuve took part in one of the biggest sports scandals of our generation. Whether he did or not, though, his peers around the league and fans outside of Houston will clearly believe he is just as guilty as his teammates.