Will MLB Pitchers go after Astro's batters?

It has been a very busy off-season for Major League Baseball. Commissioner Rob Manfred has had his hands full dealing with the investigation of the Houston Astros' now confirmed sign-stealing scandal and its aftermath.

The Astros were found guilty of systematic cheating that involved players, coaches, and a GM during the 2017 season, the very year they won the World Series.

As a result, the Astros were fined $5 million and were forced to forfeit their first and second round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. Jeff Luhnow, A. J. Hinch, Alex Cora, and Carlos Beltran were all fired since the news broke. Players were given immunity by the MLB in exchange for their cooperation.

It's that last part that has players around the league incensed.

The players were in on it. They engaged in the banging of the trash cans and are alleged to have even worn some kind of buzzer to signal pitches (this has not been proven). Cheating worked. They won the World Series. There's no bigger prize in baseball. So, why should players get off scot-free?

As it turns out, that may not be the case.

There's a growing sentiment that if the MLB doesn't punish players for their role -- (which at this point may not be an option after granting immunity -- the players will take justice into their own hands.

Pitchers have their own way of doling out justice. Players around the league may likely unify to pelt Houston Astros players when they step into the batters' box. A fastball high-and-tight will send the message.

This action can have many effects on the game.

Batters that fear retribution may be jumpy in the box at first, fearing the likelihood that they'll get hurt by pitch.

Umpires will be on high alert to put an end to any in-game violence by tossing pitchers they deem guilty. This may ultimately end in pitchers being tossed for unintentional HBP's which could further benefit the Astros.

The Astros will have to defend themselves or risk becoming punching bags on a nightly basis. We may be in for a season of on-field conflicts.

The fact is, Rob Manfred's punishment, particularly the lack of punishment issued to players, was too light and will result in more consequences. This will likely be the defining moment in Manfred's career and he blew it. This will be his legacy.

If the Houston Astros' actions don't warrant the forfeitable of a championship, what will? This will become the measuring stick by which all future major transgressions are judged in the MLB.

In the meantime, what will happen to the Astros players? They'll get hit early for sure. The very first pitch to a Houston Astros player this season better be aimed right at the batter. The pitch should not be aimed at hurting the batter, but it should be a message from the league: not cool, man. Every first pitch to the Astros should be handled the same way.

Which Astros Player Will Record the Most HBP During the 2020 Regular Season?
Alex Bregman -110
George Springer +185
Jose Altuve +250
Carlos Correa +300

With that said, George Springer, the player projected to be at the top of the order will be the most beaned player in 2020. If it's found that Jose Altuve was indeed wearing a device in that now infamous video, he makes it to the top of my list. Both players are worth a bet.

Total Times Houston Astros Get Hit by a Pitch in 2020
Over 83.5 HBP -115
Under 83.5 HBP -115

Eventually, the pelting will stop. 83.5 puts the average at essentially once every two games. Houston was hit 66 times last year. Three teams recorded more than 83.5 HBP last year (NYM 95, CIN 89, OAK 87). Do I think motivation will make up the difference? Oh yeah.

Will The Astros Lead the League in HBP During 2020 Regular Season?
Yes -130
No +100

Yup. It'll be a combination of pitchers trying to bean them and batters leaning in to take advantage of the situation.

This can all be remedied if the MLB enacts a just punishment over the players. That will cause the expected HBP numbers to dip, but until then, let's ride this wave to the bank.