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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Castrovince: Shift is on: Odd defensive alignments the new norm

The Rays no longer retain an edge in this particular defensive department. If anything, their shifting strategy is the new norm, a practice employed by everyone from up-and-coming to established managers. Because whether you’re analyzing the statistics or the employment practices in Major League Baseball today, one thing is clear:

The shift is on.

As far as the metrics are concerned, the numbers of defensive shifts on balls in play tracked by Baseball Info Solutions’ (BIS) video studies over the last four seasons were as follows:

2010: 2,465
2011: 2,358
2012: 4,577
2013: 8,134

A 94-percent jump from 2011-12 is eye-catching, in and of itself. A 245-percent rise from 2011-13 is meteoric.

“I would say it’s in large part due to much more attention being paid to the data,” said a National League advance scout. “Even something as simple as spray charts include much more information than what was previously available.”

What is also available is a mountain of data that confirms a severe decline in offense, with last year’s run production at its lowest level in more than two decades, and league-wide batting average at its lowest point in more than four.

Now, how much credit does the shift movement get for this decline, especially when there are so many other factors—the crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs, the increase in average velocity, the popularity of the ever-vexing cutter, to name but a few—in play?

Hard to say, truthfully.

There are, however, numbers that would lead you to believe the value of hitters who can hit with authority to the opposite field is particularly high in this defensive day and age.

Thanks to WS.

Repoz Posted: March 05, 2014 at 06:40 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays, sabermetrics

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   1. Big Train Rollin' Posted: March 05, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4666689)
So being the Tampa Bay Rays is the old market inefficiency?

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