Justin Verlander had a problem with sign-stealing until it helped him win a World Series
Justin Verlander is one of the more outspoken players in MLB, but he, like his other Houston Astros teammates, has been quiet since the league handed down punishment to the team on Monday. That’s particularly notable in Verlander’s case considering his feelings on sign-stealing prior to joining Houston.
Verlander joined Houston after agreeing to a trade that beat the deadline by seconds in 2017. It took a lot of convincing for him to go to the Astros, as he originally blocked a trade to the AL West club.
Prior to joining the Astros, Verlander’s career seemed to be going the wrong way, and there were concerns that he had lost his status as an ace. He was 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, and early in the season, the Tigers were concerned he was tipping pitches. There were even some suggestions at the time that opponents were stealing signs.
Then in June 2017, two months before his trade to Houston, Verlander was quoted by MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery raising concerns about illegal sign-stealing.
From Woodbery’s article:
This isn’t the innocent sign-stealing of yore. This is high-tech stuff, involving team video departments and even code-crackers.
“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound,” Verlander said.
“It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”
So there was Verlander talking about the sign-stealing being on a “different level” and how it was “not good.” He said the Tigers weren’t doing it. And then he went to a team not only was, but was at the forefront of it.
Given Verlander’s willingness to talk so freely about problems in the game so many other times during his career, we can only surmise he has been quiet in this case because it benefited him. Maybe it’s time for him to speak up and tell us why he had such a problem with sign-stealing before joining the Astros but not since then.