Astros' sign-stealing, juiced baseballs the biggest unknowns for 2020 MLB season

Springtime is historically a time of optimism in baseball. A brand new season is true across the nook and each and every crew will get a recent get started in its pursuit of a championship.

However this spring, possibly greater than another in fresh reminiscence, is stuffed with unanswered questions.

Prior to pitchers and catchers even reported to camp, 3 groups had already fired their managers as the results of a sign-stealing scandal that goes back to 2017, possibly even further. We have no idea just how much of an impact illegal technology has had on the results, the statistics and the individual performances of the past few seasons.

What’s real and what isn’t? And where does this leave fantasy owners, who rely on those numbers as the basis for their decisions?

That’s how we begin preparation for our 2020 drafts – staring in the face of so much uncertainty.

Astros’ offense(s)

After former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers went public in November with details of the trash can-banging scheme in 2017, MLB launched an investigation into the Astros’ system of stealing opponents’ signs electronically and relaying them to hitters at the plate.

There’s evidence the sign-stealing continued into 2018, both at home and on the road.

And there were persistent rumors the system still existed in some form in 2019. The Astros led the majors last season in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.

But how much of an advantage did it give Astros hitters? And how might it impact their performances in 2020?

There are many different factors that can impact a player's performance. In fantasy drafts, watch for potential discounts on Astros hitters because of the recent sign-stealing scandal.

In early drafts, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and George Springer are occasionally slipping a round or two because of doubts they’ll be able to duplicate last year’s numbers.

Yes, Bregman was the only batting title qualifier last season who walked more times (119) than he struck out (83). However, Altuve’s walk rate in 2019 (7.5%) was the lowest it’s been in four seasons and his strikeout rate (15%) was a career high. Springer’s walk and strikeout rates have increased each of the past two seasons.

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