When we first ran this piece back on September 18, it was clear that Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn’t playing by the rules. His statistical improvement from age 34 on mirrors that (almost exactly) of all-time cheater Barry Bonds. We want to update the final numbers on this comparison, through the 2022 regular season and playoffs, and then address the issue of why pretty much all MLB media outlets are ignoring the organizational psychology of the Trashstros.
We will repost this statistical information here, to demonstrate that prior to age 34, both Bonds and Verlander were very accomplished MLB players. Bonds had won 3 MVPs, and Verlander also had won a ROTY, a Cy Young, and an MVP award. That begs the question of “why”—but that’s another issue for another day. To recap:
- Verlander, through age 34: 3.49 ERA, 1.191 WHIP, 8.5 Ks/9, .616 winning percentage in 380 starts
- Bonds, through age 34: .290 BA, .398 OBP, .556 SLG
At this point in their respective careers, both Bonds and Verlander experienced life-changing events: Bonds saw other players glorified for cheating (namely, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the 1998 season), and Verlander was traded from Detroit to Houston in 2017. Suddenly, both players got incredibly better by huge margins at ages when they should have started a natural decline:
- Verlander, after age 34: 2.26 ERA, 0.833 WHIP, 11.4 Ks/9, .763 winning percentage in 102 starts
- Bonds, after age 34: .319 BA, .505 OBP, .721 SLG
Do the math. We know Bonds was doing PEDs; are people really going to suggest that Verlander is not doing PEDs? Evidently, this is what MLB wants us to believe—and by extension, those journalists covering MLB. There is no rational nor reasonable explanation for how Verlander turned into Sandy Koufax at age 35, other than the fact he is cheating—period. Just as Bonds suddenly turned into Babe Ruth in his mid-30s, the only explanation is chemical, fraudulent, and immoral.
The Trashstros in the Media
We will start by reminding everyone that current Houston Manager Dusty Baker was Bonds’ manager in San Francisco when Barroid first started dabbling in PEDs—and when he went on to set dubious records, as well. Baker didn’t do a darn thing about it, so the notion he is “old school” is a outrageous media lie. Baker is an enabler of cheating, as we have previously proven. The media instead runs dishonest pieces about how beloved Baker is in the MLB community … blah blah blah.
There is a reason the Trashstros hired Baker coming out of their cheating scandal: He is okay with it and continues to be okay with any form of cheating that will help him win. Baker infamously blew his best chance to win a World Series—and Bonds’ best chance, too, ironically—in the 2002 Fall Classic against the Anaheim Angels. That was poetic justice at the time, and so was this NLCS playoff loss for Baker in 2003 when he managed the Chicago Cubs.
We’ve had to endure Baker in the Series again with Houston in 2021. How much more can this go on without the media calling him out for what he truly is? Someone desperate enough to win that he will take on a team of cheaters in order to do so.
Sign Stealing, Yes … But What About the Pitching?
To anyone with a keen eye, the Trashstros haven’t just been cheating at the plate. Look at these miraculous pitching improvements over the last six seasons and tell us that the Houston organization isn’t doing something fishy as well when it comes to the guys on the mound. Like our Fenway Frauds and The House That Steroids Built analyses, there are just too many coincidences to ignore (not including the Verlander makeover highlighted above):
- Will Harris (2015-19): Went from a 3.42 ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013-14 to a drastic, sudden improvement at age 30 in Houston, posting a 2.36 ERA through age 34 with the Astros.
- Charlie Morton (2017-18): Posted combined -0.7 WAR as a pitcher with three different teams from ages 24-32, and then with the Houston organization for his age-33 and age-34 seasons, he posted a combined 5.3 WAR out of nowhere.
- Gerrit Cole (2018-2019): He spent five years in Pittsburgh, compiling a 3.50 ERA, a 1.217 WHIP, and an 8.4 K/9 rate. Two years in Houston saw those same statistical measurements improve drastically to a 2.68 ERA, a 0.962 WHIP, and a 13.1 K/9 rate. Since joining the New York Yankees in 2020, his numbers have normalized a lot at a 3.28 ERA, a 1.024 WHIP, and an 11.7 K/9 rate. Did he forget how to pitch suddenly?!
- Ryan Pressly (2019-2022): Through age 29 with the Minnesota Twins, he put up a 3.75 ERA, a 1.303 WHIP, and an 8.0 K/9 rate over 5-plus seasons. In four-plus years now through age 33 with Houston, Pressly has shockingly improved to a 2.39 ERA, an 0.929 WHIP, and an 11.9 K/9 rate.
- Ryne Stanek (2021-2022): In five seasons with the two Florida teams, he posted a combined 4.00 ERA in 173-plus innings. Now, in two years with his new club in southeast Texas, Stanek has managed a 2.41 ERA in 122 innings in his age-29 and age-30 seasons together.
- Rafael Montero (2021-2022): His lifetime 4.64 ERA has been lowered tremendously the last two seasons by his 2.18 ERA in Houston at ages 30 and 31. His lifetime WHIP? A whopping 1.458, but in Houston, it’s only been 1.009 over his last 74-plus innings.
These are just some basic surface observations, but as you can see—with the prime case being Verlander, yet somehow nearly replicated by the group above—the Houston pitching staffs have gotten serious, inexplicable boosts, too, since the sign-stealing scheme was first implemented in 2017. Does anyone think an organization only cheats in one phase of the sport? No way. Yet there hasn’t even been a whisper from the media about the organizational “methods” when it comes to these improbably pitching boosts.
We saw with the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants (linked above) that organizations do not change their stripes unless they suffer severe consequences—which neither Boston, Houston, or S.F. ever have, really. So, anyone who believes the Astros—in their fourth World Series now since they started cheating in 2017—aren’t still cheating? Well, it’s called willful ignorance in a reality-distortion zone created of their own cognitive dissonance.
Why? Follow the Money!
The Boston Red Sox went from 1918 to 2004 without winning a World Series, but MLB let them cheat for titles, and now there are multiple generations of Red Sox fans who pay through the nose to support their previously moribund franchise. The San Francisco Giants went from 1954 to 2010 without winning a World Series, but MLB let them cheat for titles instead of moving them to Florida, and now, there are millions of wealthy baseball fans buying merchandise in Silicon Valley in lieu of spending elsewhere.
Similarly, the Houston Colt .45s/Astros went from 1961 to 2017 without winning a World Series, but MLB has let them cheat for one title so far without real punishment, and now the city with the fourth-largest population in the United States now has a winner to spend money on every summer. When you consider the financial boom for the Astros—and by extension, the sports of baseball as a whole—you begin to understand why MLB does what it does. It’s profitable, thanks to fans with no ethics or morals.
Does that excuse the media? No … never. Journalistic integrity, however, has gone by the wayside, because no one wants to pay for news content anymore, and the only way local media stays in business is by telling the fans what they want to hear—instead of doing honest investigations like the muckrakers of the twentieth century once did. As a result, we all suffer for it, as the principles of American life disappear under the altar of the almighty dollar.
We’ve worked in MLB press boxes from Seattle to Tampa over the last 13 seasons, and the local media always spins the same crap: amazing coaches, miraculous adjustments, and incredible training regimens explain the local team’s super performances, creating a mythos that just sinks into the gullible minds of the local fans. Remember that willful ignorance: it’s a refusal to accept ethics, facts, logic, morality, reason, and science in their thought processes on what constitutes the real world around them.
Enjoy the World Series … if you can stomach it. We won’t, because we cannot.