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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Is positionless baseball MLB’s next big thing?

Let’s remember: We are not talking about a team that has chosen to value offense over defense. We are talking about the best defensive team in the majors.

In other words, the Brewers have achieved this elite defensive standing as much through scheming, shifting and analysis about where players should stand as they have through individual play. Consider defensive games played, a count of every player who has appeared at every position (except pitcher). For example, if you have three players appear at third base in a game, you have three defensive games played at that position for the game.

Tallying all those up, only the Dodgers have more defensive games played than Milwaukee. The Brewers rank in the top 10 in the majors in appearances at every position except catcher, where they rank 14th. They rank second at second base, shortstop and right field, and fourth at first base. Counsell moves players around like they he’s playing chess, and with all that, his defense has been better than anyone’s.

 

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 04, 2018 at 10:37 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: milwaukee brewers, positional adjustments, shifts

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5720952)
With expanded pitching rosters, the ability to comfortably move players around the diamond is absolutely paramount to a teams success in today's game, especially the lower market teams. Teams having just one guy who could competently play multiple positions is a thing of the past. Albert Pujols in his first three years played 95 or more games at 1st, 3rd and LF, and that was a superstar. Matt Carpenter, who is second in war in the NL(position players) has played 60 games at third, 50 at first and another 10 at second this season. What used to be a niche skill developed by weak hitters to keep a job on the roster is now being taken over by much better overall players, which of course makes since, once the stigma of being a utility guy is removed, usually your best players are also your best athletes.
   2. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 04, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5720958)
With expanded pitching rosters, the ability to comfortably move players around the diamond is absolutely paramount to a teams success in today's game, especially the lower market teams. Teams having just one guy who could competently play multiple positions is a thing of the past. Albert Pujols in his first three years played 95 or more games at 1st, 3rd and LF, and that was a superstar. Matt Carpenter, who is second in war in the NL(position players) has played 60 games at third, 50 at first and another 10 at second this season. What used to be a niche skill developed by weak hitters to keep a job on the roster is now being taken over by much better overall players, which of course makes since, once the stigma of being a utility guy is removed, usually your best players are also your best athletes.


Some Cubs starters:

Baez - 81 games at 2B, 31 at SS, 12 at 3B
Zobrist - 49 corner OF, 44 2B, 4 1B
Happ - 43 CF, 49 corner OF, 16 3B, 2 1B
Bryant - 71 3B, 9 RF, 4 1B

Even the catchers get into the act. Contreras with 4 games in the OF, Caratini with 13 at 1B. Basically, only Rizzo, Russell, Schwarber, and Almora don't move around.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 04, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5720967)
Not true - Rizzo plays "second base" on some bunts and pitches!
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5720975)
damnit, I just re-read my post... yes I know it's "makes sense" not "makes since." ugh...

Some Cubs starters:

Baez - 81 games at 2B, 31 at SS, 12 at 3B
Zobrist - 49 corner OF, 44 2B, 4 1B
Happ - 43 CF, 49 corner OF, 16 3B, 2 1B
Bryant - 71 3B, 9 RF, 4 1B

Even the catchers get into the act. Contreras with 4 games in the OF, Caratini with 13 at 1B. Basically, only Rizzo, Russell, Schwarber, and Almora don't move around.


And I think that is going to continue for a while. Outside of maybe the highest payrolls, most teams are going to have two or three starting players move around the diamond, not just outfielders which has always been somewhat common, but infielders also.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 04, 2018 at 04:00 PM (#5720977)
I found the article unconvincing. There's nothing particularly special about what the Brewers have done nor in what they apparently plan to do (let's see if they stick with it). Without question it's unusual to move a guy to 2B who's never played the position to move a 2B to SS which he hasn't played (much) in the last 5 years. The author expresses confidence they'll continue to pile up the defensive runs but doesn't offer any justification for that conclusion. Anyway this is just we have four players for 3 spots and we're trying to get an extra bat in the lineup. It's less risky than Pedro Guerrero at 3B which had the same purpose.

It is intriguing that it's Counsell doing this. He had probably fewer than 100 ML starts at SS when the Brewers decided to make him the starter there at age 33 and it ended up being his 2nd most frequently played position with strongly positive defensive ratings. Maybe he sees that in Schoop.

What I was expecting to read was that they were just putting guys all over the place, in the IF at least. Something like LH pull hitter they put Moose at 1B, Schoop in the 2B/RF spot, Shaw in the "shifted SS" spot and Aguilar wandering around on the left side of the IF ... then for a RH hitter it was Aguilar back at 1B, Moose at 3B, Schoop at SS, Shaw at 2B or a RH pull hitter you have Moose at 3B, Shaw covering the SS hole and Schoop in short LCF or god only knows what.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 04, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5720981)
Some Cubs starters:

Baez - 81 games at 2B, 31 at SS, 12 at 3B
Zobrist - 49 corner OF, 44 2B, 4 1B
Happ - 43 CF, 49 corner OF, 16 3B, 2 1B
Bryant - 71 3B, 9 RF, 4 1B


What's the point, though? If you're trying to get different people in the lineup, I can understand how you'd want this kind of versatility. But to take one example, on May 12 against the White Sox, Baez started at third, Bryant started in right, and David Bote started at second. So that's three guys not at their customary positions - for what advantage?
   7. BDC Posted: August 04, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5720986)
I didn't understand this point from TFA:

Consider defensive games played, a count of every player who has appeared at every position (except pitcher). For example, if you have three players appear at third base in a game, you have three defensive games played at that position for the game.

Tallying all those up, only the Dodgers have more defensive games played than Milwaukee. The Brewers rank in the top 10 in the majors in appearances at every position except catcher, where they rank 14th. They rank second at second base, shortstop and right field, and fourth at first base. Counsell moves players around like he's playing chess, and with all that, his defense has been better than anyone's.


That's of course nice that their defensive performance is good, but would that good performance have much to do with the chess-game aspect of it? Maybe a team with lots of defensive games played pinch-hits for good defenders a lot, or alternately caddies for bad ones early in the game after they get ahead.

IOW I'd want to know why "defensive games played" is interesting, how it usually correlates with being good or bad at offense or defense, other prominent examples of teams that have a lot or few of them. Just grabbing some number and noting that a team is high or low in it could mean anything. Though as so often, maybe I'm not understanding the claim.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5721006)
IOW I'd want to know why "defensive games played" is interesting, how it usually correlates with being good or bad at offense or defense, other prominent examples of teams that have a lot or few of them. Just grabbing some number and noting that a team is high or low in it could mean anything. Though as so often, maybe I'm not understanding the claim.


I don't think this article is meant to be an analysis, but more like a look at an unusual style of play by a team that is exceeding expectations.

What's the point, though? If you're trying to get different people in the lineup, I can understand how you'd want this kind of versatility. But to take one example, on May 12 against the White Sox, Baez started at third, Bryant started in right, and David Bote started at second. So that's three guys not at their customary positions - for what advantage?


Can't talk about the Cubs, but with the Cardinals you have left handed hitting Carpenter who is going to play in every game. You have second baseman only Wong (lefty) who is great with the glove and sporadic with the offense, you have Gyorko who is a plus with the glove at two positions(second and third) passable at short who has been a pretty good hitter in his time with the Cardinals. You have Martinez a right handed professional hitter playing first base poorly, Garcia a traditional left handed utility guy(plays all defensive infield positions reasonably well), and Munoz a right handed guy who can play a lot of positions passably(including the outfield), but has a legit bat. This gives you a lot of options for day to day matchups, and substitutions later in the game, this allows you to pretty much bring anyone in at any time of the game and have a spot for them to play, this also, in theory can create good morale within the team, because pretty much everyone gets into a game every other day (except backup catcher) and has a chance to earn more playing time.

Against a primarily right handed hitting team, with a left handed starting pitcher, you might consider putting an lineup of 1b Martinez, 2b Carpenter ss Dejong, 3b Gyorko, if the team is more evenly divided on the offense you might want to swap Carp and Gyorko. Or you might decide to give Martinez a day off and put Carp there, and Munoz at second etc.

And of course day to day nagging injuries are a lot easier to work around without having to call anyone up... The Cardinals have 2 guys who could reasonably start first base(Martinez, Carpenter...Molina and Gyorko can play, but they don't usually start there) 5 guys who can play second (Wong, Munoz, Garcia, Carpenter, Gyorko) 4 to play short(Dejong, Gyorko, Munoz, Garcia) 4 to play 3rd(Carpenter, Gyorko, Munoz, Garcia--although Dejong can also play there in a pinch, but that isn't likely to happen)
   9. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 04, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5721007)
With the amount of defensive repositioning going on, "playing 3rd base" doesn't mean the same thing today as it once did. On many, many at-bats, the third baseman is playing where the shortstop traditionally does. I feel like playing defense in baseball is more like playing zone defense in basketball or football now, where you could shift quite a bit depending on where the basketball goes. (For example, a weak-side forward in a zone defense may play in the middle of the pain, because the defense knows it would take two passes, or a long cross-court pass, to get the ball to the weak side.) I see the way a baseball team sets the defense against a dead pull hitter in a similar way.

The big thing is that, up to now, offenses have not been willing or able to adjust their approach to take advantage of the "weak side" of a defense. I can't tell if that is because they choose not to change their approach to hitting, or if it is just really, really difficult to do so.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5721009)
With the amount of defensive repositioning going on, "playing 3rd base" doesn't mean the same thing today as it once did. On many, many at-bats, the third baseman is playing where the shortstop traditionally does.


When the Cardinals shift(and other teams) the third baseman usually goes to the other side of the shortstop, and the shortstop is more in line with where the shortstop plays, the thinking is that the shortstop is the guy with the biggest range, so you want him to cover any accidents to the left side of the infield that happen.
   11. Master of the Horse Posted: August 04, 2018 at 05:19 PM (#5721013)
Brewers vs Cubs with players with more than 200 defensive innings at a position in 2018
Thought defensive innings might be more useful. Cubs have been super strong on defense for a while so whatever this year's results using Cubs makes for a comparison against an established defensively capable team

1b Augilar 682 innings Rizzo 869
2b Villar 553 Baez 581 Zobrist 311
ss Arcia 553, Saladino 220 Russell 792
3b Shaw 816 Bryant 624
lf Yelich 451, Braun 415 Schwarber 693
cf Cain 793 Almora 640, Happ 289
rf Santana 425, Yelich 299 Heyward 690
c Pina 557, Kratz 226 Contrera 767

Players with 100 defensive innings at multiple positions

Braun 1b 109 and 415 lf
Thames 1b 185 and 153 rf
Perez 2b 188 and 109 3b
Yelich rf and lf shown above

Baez 2b 581 and 198 ss
Zobrist 2b 311 and 104 lf and 190 rf
Happ cf 289 and 179 lf

   12. BDC Posted: August 04, 2018 at 05:24 PM (#5721017)
I don't think this article is meant to be an analysis


Well, that's reassuring, because I was having a heck of a time following it if it was :)
   13. Red Voodooin Posted: August 04, 2018 at 07:33 PM (#5721099)
But to take one example, on May 12 against the White Sox, Baez started at third, Bryant started in right, and David Bote started at second. So that's three guys not at their customary positions - for what advantage?


I'm not sure about this specific game, but the Cubs have limited put Bryant in RF several times this year because he's been nursing the sore shoulder (non-throwing-arm) that has him on the DL right now.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 04, 2018 at 11:11 PM (#5721190)
I'm not sure about this specific game, but the Cubs have limited put Bryant in RF several times this year because he's been nursing the sore shoulder (non-throwing-arm) that has him on the DL right now.

Wait, what? They intentionally put a guy with a bum arm in RF? Doesn't the RF traditionally have the strongest arm on the field? I could see LF, but RF?
   15. Spahn Insane Posted: August 05, 2018 at 12:06 AM (#5721194)
Reread Voodoo’s post, snapper. A key phrase answers your question.
   16. RickG Posted: August 05, 2018 at 07:05 AM (#5721205)
I can't speak to other teams, but as far as the Cubs...it's become obvious to me over the last couple of years that Joe Maddon essentially takes the first four months of the season for granted. He uses it to experiment with his lineup, he uses it to get pitchers the right amount of rest, and he uses it to put players at positions they don't always play, but may have to come the stretch run. Then sometime in August he bears down.

The entire point is to give the Cubs maximum flexibility in the playoffs, so when Maddon starts double-switching, guys can move to any of a number of positions and still feel comfortable.

If you have the amount of talent the Cubs do - so you can 'tread water' near the top of the division until the All-Star Break or longer before kicking into gear - Maddon's approach is an affordable luxury.
   17. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 05, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5721243)
Bote appears to be a decent glove at 2nd and 3rd, so I'm not sure one is clearly stronger than the other. Joe likes putting Baez at 3rd for Lester starts (not today though) to help combat trs trying to bunt on him. Both of those guys are better at 3rd than Bryant not that Bryant is bad there. So depending on who's on the mound you get a good defensive lineup out there and the bats you want (Bryant in RF probableans it was against a lhp).
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: August 05, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5721246)
I can't speak to other teams, but as far as the Cubs...it's become obvious to me over the last couple of years that Joe Maddon essentially takes the first four months of the season for granted. He uses it to experiment with his lineup, he uses it to get pitchers the right amount of rest, and he uses it to put players at positions they don't always play, but may have to come the stretch run. Then sometime in August he bears down.


Something that both TLR and Matheny used to do for the Cardinals, maybe not four months of waiting around, but they don't really start trying until July rolls around. Up to that point it's about figuring out who has actually lost it vs just a bad stretch to start the season, whether or not any improvement is real or illusionary, and who can handle the roles assigned to them, and appeasing the front office by giving their over priced free agent a genuine shot(Holland, cough)
   19. Sunday silence Posted: August 05, 2018 at 04:37 PM (#5721349)
Speaking of shifts; in the 5th inn. of STL/PIT yesterday, Wong on third with 2 outs and Carpenter at the plate, the PIT put on one of these extreme shifts with I guess Freese the normal 3b standing near SS position.

Do teams really do this on a routine basis (shift with runner on third and/or second)? I have said a few weeks ago that it makes not much sense to bunt against the shift cause the numbers dont work, but with a man on third and a huge lead, you probably can make the numbers work if you can bunt, Im guessing...maybe .450? or less? Cause the runner is going to score its not like a 0.3 weight walk, its going to drive in the run.

I think this is an important point for future shift discussions, so I hope some other primates can add their observations to this. I think I will try to keep this as a check list item for the playoffs. Sorry Im kind of weird like that.
   20. Sunday silence Posted: August 05, 2018 at 05:00 PM (#5721363)
well hell, going from memory the odds of scoring from 3b w/ 2 outs usually hovers around 28%, it moves up and down a couple pts depending on the era, etc. If true then the batter only has to be able to hit say .300 with a bunt for this strategy to work. Maybe I am missing something, just dont understand why they shift with the runner on third like that, unless Carp is a complete putz at bunting....
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: August 05, 2018 at 08:32 PM (#5721446)
Mets had a stat last night that NL batters have plated a runner on 3rd with ONE out 54 pct of the time.

would batter getting a walk count? because that would impact what the stat means
   22. Sunday silence Posted: August 06, 2018 at 07:52 AM (#5721584)
with one out the rate is about 60% league wide. Again it varies according to the current run environment and I dont know what it is exactly these days but 60% should be pretty close.

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