My best friend is an Atlanta Braves fan. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico and since TBS broadcasted games, that became his team. He’s stuck with them now as we are both into our 40’s, but after the Marlins shellacked Alex Wood 9-0, he sent me a text overnight – “Marlins are stealing signs at home, I’m convinced of it.”
Now, my best friend is by no means the kind of guy that would come to FanGraphs and even look at a team’s splits page to see the numbers, so his speculation is purely based on what he observed in the game. He went on to say he saw Gattis flashing multiple signs with nobody on second base and how some guys were taking extremely confident swings as if they knew what pitch was coming and where it was going to be located.
The Marlins have played 35 games in 2014, 22 at home and just 13 on the road. Why is that relevant? Check out their home/away splits:
The 88-point difference in their batting average is not the damning scarlet letter by any means, as the Rockies are even worse with a 96-point split season. Then again, that’s Denver, where we have always grown accustomed to seeing large splits. In 1995, the Rockies hit 115 points better at home than they did on the road. Last season, the Marlins had a four point split in their home/road batting average and just a 10-point split in 2012. Needless to say, the 88-point split this season raises a few eyebrows.
The issues are much larger than just the team batting average. The 70-point split in BABIP and the sharp drop in ISO means the team is not putting as many well-struck baseballs into play. While the team is maintaining its walk rate on the road, the extreme spike in strikeout rates is befuddling. The big spike comes from big changes at the plate.
On the road, the Marlins are chasing more pitches out of the zone, swinging more frequently, making less contact in and out of the zone, despite seeing the same amount of pitches in the zone. This does not help quiet the conspiracy theorists.
Whether they are stealing signs or not can be discussed while wearing the tinfoil hats, but the fact remains that the Marlins just kicked off their 11-game road trip last night in San Diego with a comeback win in which they struck out 17 times and reached based seven times. 20 of the team’s next 31 games are on the road, Garrett Jones and Christian Yelich lead the team in batting average on the road hitting .255. At home, Casey McGehee, Reed Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Adeiny Hechevarria and Marcell Ozuna are each hitting over .300.
If your fantasy offense is being fueled by the overall performances of these guys, you may want to consider alternate plans for the coming weeks or avoiding them if you play in daily fantasy leagues.