Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Both Rollins and Barmes were surprised to hear that BABIP on grounders was up, but they also said that ground ball data wasn’t the whole story when it comes to the utility of shifting.
Rollins shook his head, “Hmm, yeah, you’d expect the [ground ball] numbers to be down.” After taking a moment to consider how to explain what was going on, he asked, “What about line drives?” I didn’t have an answer because I hadn’t thought about what suddenly appeared obvious. “I’ve seen so many line drives right past the first baseman and that third or second baseman is sitting there in that hole, and you’re saying, ‘It’s not fair.’
“From what I see, looking at line drives may be the place to look [for the effectiveness of the shift]. I mean, we see it with Ryan [Howard], [Domonic] Brown a little bit, and balls that come off that bat, he’s like, ‘Yes!’ and the guy’s sitting there,” Rollins continued, jokingly adding, “And that should be illegal, it’s stacking the field.”
Saturday, June 21, 2014
As it seems, the onset of the shift has not really changed the probability of an opposite hit ball. But, for those most shifted in 2013, there has been a large decrease across the board in the value of their batted balls, with the average ground ball losing 66% of it’s value until this year—where there seems to be a spike in ground ball run values. But the most surprising factor is the apparent effect of the shift on the fly balls and line drive value, which have both dropped significantly in value without encouraging the hitter to take a different approach to take it the other way. What we really need is to detect when the shift is on for all players, and compare the spray and outcomes of their batted balls in shifted versus non-shifted situations. [...]
However, using Gameday data, this is the best proxy I could think up as a “SHIFT SCORE” metric, to identify player’s who are suitable to be shifted:
Posted: June 21, 2014 at 08:54 AM | 0 comment(s)
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Heading into Monday’s action, according to Baseball Info Solutions, the Yankees were tied with four other clubs — the Astros, Brewers, Cardinals and Athletics — with the major league-leading total of two team shift runs saved. Last year, the Yankees tallied three team shift runs saved for the entire season. [...]
The Yankees used the shift 475 times last year, and they’re already at 88 in 2014, second in the majors behind only Houston (137). If they keep this up, they’ll wind up doing so well over 1,000 times.“If you had a crystal ball, if you could conceive of what happens before it happens — if you could jump in your DeLorean and go back in time — you could turn every ball in play into an out,” Eppler said, slipping in an excellent “Back to the Future” reference.
“A perfect opponents’ BABiP (batting average on balls in play) is .000. The average is between .302 and .305. You want to beat that. If you beat that, you’re going to be pleased.” [...]
In an interview with MLB.com last year, Cincinnati lefty slugger Jay Bruce said: “All in all, I believe shifts make sense, especially against guys hitting for power. Not a lot of power-hitting guys hit the ball on the ground on the left side of the infield. But it’s one of those things where I don’t even worry about it or look at it, because it’s not worth it. If I do what I’m supposed to do, it doesn’t matter anyway.”
Posted: April 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM | 7 comment(s)
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Teams shifted about 2,400 times in 2010 and 2011, said Ben Jedlovec, a vice president for the company, and about 4,500 times in 2012. Last season, the total jumped to about 8,100, and teams are on pace for 13,000 shifts in 2014.
“Clint Hurdle said nine of 10 balls up the middle used to be hits — and now, two of 10 are,” said Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski, referring to the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It just shows how different it is.”
Dombrowski’s Tigers are using more shifts under their new manager, Brad Ausmus, but they are not alone. Entering the weekend, data showed that 23 of the 30 teams were on pace to deploy more shifts than they did last year.
Posted: April 13, 2014 at 01:47 PM | 19 comment(s)
Saturday, April 12, 2014
If the shift is really transforming baseball [...] by rendering pull-heavy hitters less valuable, we would want to know just who these hitters are. To identify them, I create a simple “balance factor” to judge how frequently these hitters pull the ball as opposed to going up the middle and to the opposite field. I used FanGraphs’ batted ball data for the location of balls put in play and calculated the “balance factor” with the following equation:
(((Center Rate + Opposite Field Rate) ÷ 2) - Pull Rate) × 100
Positive outcomes show a propensity for going the other way and up the middle, while negative rates show a propensity to pull the ball. Scores of zero show that the hitter has an equal chance to pull the ball as he does to go the other way and up the middle. I only used qualified hitters in this study, and we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Posted: April 12, 2014 at 05:57 PM | 20 comment(s)
Friday, March 28, 2014
Baseball’s approach to defense, long unchanged except for the gloves getting bigger, is undergoing the most radical change in strategy since the Reconstruction Era. Defensive shifting, which started as a trend several years ago, is becoming epidemic. Major League teams “shifted” 8,134 times last season, compared with just 2,357 in 2011. [...]
Last season, the Pirates “shifted,” meaning they had three infielders on one side of second base or in significantly nontraditional positions, 494 times, compared with 105 in 2012. [...]
The Pirates defense “saved” 77 runs in all, or 77 runs better than an average defense, third-most in Major League Baseball.The Pirates also finished above .500 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1992. The Boston Red Sox shifted 478 times in 2013, compared with 199 in 2012. Those shifts saved the Red Sox 15 runs during the course of the season, second-most in baseball. They won the World Series. (The Rays were first in runs saved by shifts.) [...]
Still, not everyone is on board. The St. Louis Cardinals, the game’s model franchise of late, shifted infielders just 107 times last season, about 50% more than 2012, but nothing on the scale of the Orioles (595 shifts), Rays (556 shifts) or Brewers (538 shifts).
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Last week, Jeff Zimmerman at the Hardball Times released infield shift data for 2013. These data considered a shift to be on when the defense had three players on the same side of the infield (as in the Jays-Red Sox example above). The data that were made available included how often teams had a shift on when hitters put the ball in play, and the players that hit into the most shifts. Here, I am focusing on the former. Keep in mind that these data exclude home runs, strikeouts, walks (because those plate appearances do not end with a ball in play). Using these data, we can estimate the number of runs a team saved (or gave up) as a result of using the extreme infield shift.
Posted: March 09, 2014 at 09:16 PM | 15 comment(s)
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