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Friday, July 06, 2018

Scott Boras says shifts are partly why Bryce Harper isn’t enjoying a typical Harper season

“Boras has strong opinions on many baseball matters, and during a 25-minute session with reporters Tuesday, he espoused a few about why his client Bryce Harper — slated to perhaps sign the richest contract in American professional sports history this coming winter — is not enjoying a typical Harper season.

Harper is batting .215 after he went 0 for 4 in the Nationals’ 3-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox, but Boras insisted evaluating Harper through batting average is misguided because he has been the victim of unusual circumstances. One is how teams are pitching to him so carefully. The other is how opponents are shifting against him.”

So, other teams should be pitching to Harper carelessly.

I get that Boras is trying to put the best face on Harper’s season, but I think he is full of shift.

Hank Gillette Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:29 AM | 138 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bryce harper, scott boras, shifts

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   1. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:41 AM (#5705841)
Maybe Boras can get an anti-shift rule inserted in Harper's contract. Or maybe Harper can just learn to hit 'em where they ain't.

Or maybe Boras will file a class action civil rights lawsuit:
“I’ve dealt with greatness in this game for a long time, and the great thing about trials in the game, that the game brings to great players, is that you have to look at what the game and the opponents are trying to do and what the game’s trying to do to prohibit greatness,” Boras said. “Because he gets off to a great start, what do they do? Well, they’re going to starve him from the strike zone. And remember they’re not doing this to a [Mike] Trout or a [Manny] Machado. Why is that? They’re great players. Why are they not doing it them, yet they’re doing it to Bryce? And the answer to that, I think, is largely that [the] power component carries a great fear.”

Further, Boras maintained that shifting has essentially broken the game and particularly hurt left-handed sluggers such as Harper. Boras believes shifts are “discriminatory” against left-handed batters because they can be more drastic against them than against right-handed hitters. ...

As always, the best parody is self-parody. How dare these defenses try to adjust to Harper's personalized hitting zone!
   2. Rough Carrigan Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5705845)
So . . pitchers don't fear the power of Mike Trout or Manny Machado? Oh. Okay.
   3. TRBMB Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:00 AM (#5705847)
Boras could care less about any quality of game issues. His only concern is impacts to his commission based on playing conditions impacting his clients' contracts. Nothing more.

I had the opportunity to view Boras up close when he spoke at the Los Angeles SABR Convention back in 2011. He was perspiring greatly from massive ego and conceit as he talked down to the audience.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:02 AM (#5705848)
Scott. You're doing that thing with your mouth again. The thing where sound comes out of it.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:08 AM (#5705849)
I'm sure he will argue that his next FA pitcher deserves a smaller contract because the shifts are artificially helping his stats...
   6. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:10 AM (#5705851)
If we all understand that Boras is simply spinning the facts to best pay his client in the free agency period, and we all understand that that is in fact his job, why are we upset at him for doing it? His job is to get his people paid. It's not like Boras has the power to actually "ban shifts" or any of those super idiotic ideas people actually in the game float around from time to time.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:18 AM (#5705855)
I'm with Rickey, Boras is just doing his job. I'm not sure why anyone really gives a damn what he says. It's a ludicrous comment.
   8. The Duke Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5705858)
In a game starved for more non-HR hitting, it would make sense to limit shifting on the infield. I’d like to see it a requirement that there needs to be two infielders on each side of second base and some line in the outfield the limits how far the infielders can play in the OF. Personally I don’t like the aesthetic when viewing shifts from the stands.

I also think teams need to move the fences back 10 feet from alley to alley and create more open space in the OF to create more doubles and triples.

The game needs to create the conditions for more balls in play which will reduce the swing from the heels approach that exists today.

   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5705859)
I don't think normalizing shameless hucksterism completely divorced from actual facts is a good thing. We're seeing where that gets us now as a society.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5705861)
The good news for prospective teams is, once he signs a big contract, opponents will no longer shift or pitch carefully.
   11. bunyon Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5705862)
I'm all for moving the fences back. I'd be up for 20 or 30 feet even.

But beating the shift isn't rocket science. Hit the ####### ball the other way. Perhaps Joey Gallo isn't talented enough to do it (he is) but Bryce Harper absolutely is.

He came up over the last few days, bottom of the ninth, runner on first, no out, down 3-2. The 3Bman was standing on the outfield grass, just to the 3B side of second. A bunt or slap hit the other way was a certain single, perhaps a double. Bryce struckout, swinging hard, with a pull swing on each swing.

Again, I'm not suggesting the ludicrous notion of trying to hit the ball accurately enough to "place" it between normally spaced fielders. I'm suggesting any dribbler or chopper the other way is a guaranteed hit. Extra bases, even. Major league hitters CAN do that (most decent high school hitters can do it, if they practice it). They just won't.

To the matter at hand, it should be possible to find all the hits he's lost to the shift, right? We'll just ignore the strikeouts and routine weak dribblers to second and first.
   12. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5705863)
I don't think we should normalize Boras, we should laugh him off. He doesn't deserve anger, he deserves ridicule. And anyone who falls for his hucksterism does too.
   13. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5705866)
In a game starved for more non-HR hitting, it would make sense to limit shifting on the infield. I’d like to see it a requirement that there needs to be two infielders on each side of second base and some line in the outfield the limits how far the infielders can play in the OF.

Or maybe hitters like Harper might, you know, learn to adjust their swings. We often hear how much time Harper spends in the batting cage, and maybe he might stop treating all that time as a warmup for Home Run Derby.
   14. Ziggy's screen name Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5705869)
The thing is that the argument that Harper is better than this is really easy to make. His BABIP is far below his career norm, and batters tend towards their career norms in BABIP. Just say that. In addition to not sounding as silly as what Boras came up with, it has the advantage of being true.
   15. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5705874)
Hell, the whole baseball diamond is discriminatory against left handed infielders. We need a new shape, clearly.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5705878)
We need a new shape, clearly.
No, just make a rule that batters run the bases clockwise one day, counterclockwise the next.
   17. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:09 AM (#5705882)
No, just make a rule that batters run the bases clockwise one day, counterclockwise the next.

Hmm. It would be kind of fascinating if the runners had to run counter clockwise when a lefty hitter was up and clock wise with a righty. I don't think this is a terrible idea, actually. Cecil Fielder would have died having to cross the diamond that many times, though.
   18. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5705886)
I have no problem pushing out the power alley distances. I have no problem softening the core of the ball to make it fly less. I have no problem tweaking reliever usage rules to eliminate the cavalcades of tedious flame throwing spare parts. If they "ban shifts" I'll stop watching the game. If you're telling me going the other way is too difficult a task for Major ####### League hitters, I'm out.
   19. puck Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5705887)
No, just make a rule that batters run the bases clockwise one day, counterclockwise the next.


Each batter gets to choose at the start of their at bat.

Rob Manfred says he would consider this.
   20. Darren Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:19 AM (#5705890)
Again, I'm not suggesting the ludicrous notion of trying to hit the ball accurately enough to "place" it between normally spaced fielders. I'm suggesting any dribbler or chopper the other way is a guaranteed hit. Extra bases, even. Major league hitters CAN do that (most decent high school hitters can do it, if they practice it). They just won't.


Supporting this argument is that the hit-and-run has been used for decades, even by really bad hitters. Put the runner on the move, clear out this second basemen, hit the ball through the hole. Good hitters should be able to slap (or bunt) a ball through one entire side of the infield. And they should keep doing it until the opposing teams stop shifting.
   21. The Duke Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:26 AM (#5705894)
I think “hitting the ball the other way” is more problematic than everyone makes it seem. If it was easy to do and the results were at least as good as hitting into the shift, they would do it and the problem would be solved. If I remember correctly Ted Williams was not great at it and chose to just hit into it.

I assume getting a guy like Ted Williams to bunt to 3b is a win and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.

I assume a lot of research has been done on the impacts and with more teams using it more frequently, it must be working
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:28 AM (#5705895)
I don't think this is a terrible idea, actually. Cecil Fielder would have died having to cross the diamond that many times, though.
That's why it would be better to do it game by game rather than batter by batter- managers wouldn't be able to delay the game by having people moving all over the diamond and back.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5705896)
If it was easy to do and the results were at least as good as hitting into the shift, they would do it and the problem would be solved
I think you underestimate the stubbornness and egos of major league hitters. And even if they are generally open to being rational about it, they may have skewed perceptions about the cost/benefit- thinking that it would be harder for them to hit to the opposite field than it actually would, or that it would mess up their 'regular swing' or whatever.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5705897)
and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.
It depends. If he could do it with regularity, that's a clear loss for the pitching team - especially compared to his .193/.306/.477 line with the bases empty.
   25. Darren Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5705907)
I assume getting a guy like Ted Williams to bunt to 3b is a win and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.


Nate touches on it, but no, particularly with the bases empty. If you can get on base at a .500 clip that way, it's a huge loss to the defense.

I think “hitting the ball the other way” is more problematic than everyone makes it seem. If it was easy to do and the results were at least as good as hitting into the shift, they would do it and the problem would be solved.


It's done all the time. By lousy hitters. And teams are so confident in how easy it is that they put baserunners in motion/at risk.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:46 AM (#5705911)
I think “hitting the ball the other way” is more problematic than everyone makes it seem. If it was easy to do and the results were at least as good as hitting into the shift, they would do it and the problem would be solved. If I remember correctly Ted Williams was not great at it and chose to just hit into it.


If you hit like Ted Williams, you can do whatever the hell you want.

If not, then you ought to consider making some changes.

And righthanded hitters have been hitting the opposite way forever, in far less productive situations (besides the hit-and-run that Darren mentioned, righties would often hit the ball to the right side with a runner on second and nobody out).

I assume getting a guy like Ted Williams to bunt to 3b is a win and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.


It all depends on how frequently they can be successful trying to beat it vs. how well they're hitting against it. That may make it an issue for Williams but not one for a vastly inferior hitter such as Bryce Harper.

   27. DavidFoss Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5705912)
We could estimate what the success rate on a beat-the-shift bunt attempt would be.

Take Ted Williams in 1949. It's a great season which roughly matches his career average. A wOBA estimator gives him a wOBA of .482 that year. Using the same wOBA estimator but doing only singles and walks, he would need to successfully bunt for a single 54% of the time to match his wOBA. So, if you can succeed at that say 60% of the time, then the defense should stop shifting (or move to a less-extreme shift). Is it worth learning how to place and beat-out a bunt to an abandoned 3B to get people to stop shifting?
   28. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5705918)
No one said going oppo was easy. But it's a basic skill of the game of baseball, and if you can't do it, you're a niche player. Modern hitters believe that the only valuable skill in the box is driving the ball hard to the power alleys and beyond. That is an incredibly valuable skill, but as others have said, situational hitting to get the #### on base is often better for the team.
   29. wjones Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5705920)
Boras is right. They tried to do the same thing to Ted Williams back in the day, and remember how it totally destroyed his career?
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5705921)
I think “hitting the ball the other way” is more problematic than everyone makes it seem. If it was easy to do and the results were at least as good as hitting into the shift, they would do it and the problem would be solved. If I remember correctly Ted Williams was not great at it and chose to just hit into it.

I assume getting a guy like Ted Williams to bunt to 3b is a win and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.


Part of the problem is that while Williams could be Williams in spite of the shift, too many hitters think they're Ted Williams, and they ain't.

EDIT: coke to SoSH
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5705922)
Is it worth learning how to place and beat-out a bunt to an abandoned 3B to get people to stop shifting?


You can't answer that without knowing how successful the shift is against the player in question.

On top of that, there's some game theory and situational stuff here. Simply doing it from time to time may influence how the defense plays you. Or, if you're down two and leading off the top of the eighth, then successfully laying one down has immensely more value than with nobody on and two outs down one in the ninth.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5705923)
Is it worth learning how to place and beat-out a bunt to an abandoned 3B to get people to stop shifting?



You can't answer that without knowing how successful the shift is against the player in question.


Partially. If you can drop the bunt, or slap the ball, and be successful >50% of the time, it's worth it for pretty much every hitter. A .500/.500/.500 slash line is almost impossible to beat hitting regularly. If you add a few slap doubles in there, it makes it even harder to top.
   33. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5705925)
I assume getting a guy like Ted Williams to bunt to 3b is a win and in a similar way, getting Bryce Harper to sink singles to left-center is also a win.

That also underestimates the value of learning to hit to all fields, since opposite field hits are also more likely to go for extra bases when there's only one outfielder covering the great majority of the outfield.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:03 AM (#5705928)
On top of that, there's some game theory and situational stuff here. Simply doing it from time to time may influence how the defense plays you. Or, if you're down two and leading off the top of the eighth, then successfully laying one down has immensely more value than with nobody on and two outs down one in the ninth.

Exactly. And if some of these ego-driven, bunting-is-for-sissies pull hitters want a perfect counter-example to their misguided theories, they might want to examine the career of Mickey Mantle.
   35. Rally Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5705930)
That also underestimates the value of learning to hit to all fields, since opposite field hits are also more likely to go for extra bases when there's only one outfielder covering the great majority of the outfield.


Outfield shifts tend to be in the opposite direction of infield shifts, but they are rarely as extreme.
   36. DavidFoss Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5705932)
If you add a few slap doubles in there, it makes it even harder to top.

I would keep the analogy to bunting. A push bunt when a huge section of the infield is abandoned seems like a separate and distinct skill that you could pull out if you thought the defense was overshifting. Sort of like the batter who has a reputation for always taking the first pitch. Once a week or so, they'll hammer the first pitch if they think the pitcher is just grooving one in hoping for an easy strike-one. They still want to be themselves up at the plate, but they want to keep the pitcher and defense honest once in a while.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:21 AM (#5705943)

I would keep the analogy to bunting. A push bunt when a huge section of the infield is abandoned seems like a separate and distinct skill that you could pull out if you thought the defense was overshifting. Sort of like the batter who has a reputation for always taking the first pitch. Once a week or so, they'll hammer the first pitch if they think the pitcher is just grooving one in hoping for an easy strike-one. They still want to be themselves up at the plate, but they want to keep the pitcher and defense honest once in a while.


I really don't understand this. I would think it would be easier to learn to hit the ball the other way than to learn bunting.

As has been said above, every RH batter learns to hit the ball the other way on hit and runs, and to advance the runner on 2B. Wht can't these lefty pull hitters learn it?
   38. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5705952)
Does bbref have bunt data?

Anthony Rizzo has laid down a few bunts against the shift.

It's done all the time. By lousy hitters.

I'd like to see some data about lousy hitters successfully hit and running all the time.
   39. eric Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5705959)
#34--that link is great. I think that may answer (at least partially) one thing that's always puzzled me about the Mick. He was a high-average, high-power, high-K hitter with extraordinarily low doubles totals. In my mind, low-average power hitters (your Kingman types) of course strike out a lot, but also hit a lot of fly balls/pop ups. When they get enough of one they go out, but when they don't it's an easy catch for the defense. Thus you get single-season lines like 19 2B/48 HR (Kingman '79).

High-average power hitters (aka, the best hitters) always seemed to mix a lot of doubles into their production. That's because, again in my mind, they're making a lot of contact and hitting a lot of line drives. They hit lots of HR, but a hard hit line-drive that doesn't go out is very likely to be a double. Then you get lines like 2009 Pujols, 45 2B/47 HR.

Mantle always seemed unique to me in that he could hit for high average, but still had Kingman-like results--16 2B/54 HR in 1961 as an example. If he was really bunting as often as claimed, that would at least partially explain it. He's apparently tied for ninth all-time in bunt base-hits with no one on base, at least as of 2012.

My guess is that if you take a Kingman style hitter and add more contact (fewer K's), and then give more speed to beat out ground balls, and add a pile of successful bunts on top, you then get a hitter with Kingman-type power numbers who also gets a lot more singles and therefore has a significantly higher batting average, and voila, Mickey Mantle.
   40. dlf Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:44 AM (#5705960)
The game theory the bunt against the shift needs to include foul attempts. Each one adds a strike reducing the expected outcome of the AB by a quantifiable amount. But each also causes the opposition to change its positioning perhaps in that AB and perhaps over time, something that would be very difficult to quantify. The 50-55% break even above is for the subset of plays where the bunt is put down in fair territory.

...

There is a site that is tracking hit & run plays. Dewan's perhaps? It shows a decrease in attempts and, IIRC, a pretty low success rate. It also suffers from the omitted sample of plays with a foul (increasing the number of strikes) and, I think, swing and miss with the resulting (usually) caught stealing.
   41. GuyM Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5705966)
every RH batter learns to hit the ball the other way on hit and runs, and to advance the runner on 2B. Wht can't these lefty pull hitters learn it?

Not to say they can't do it, but there is a huge difference in pitcher handedness here. RHH are mainly facing RHP (about 70% of the time this year), and I would guess it's easier to hit to the opposite field against a same-handed pitcher. In contrast, LHH mainly face opposite-handed pitchers (>80% of the time), perhaps making it harder to go the other way. Obviously, having the platoon advantage 80% of the time is, in general, a huge advantage for lefty hitters. But in this one specific case -- hitting a ground ball to the opposite field -- it may be a disadvantage.
   42. TJ Posted: July 06, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5705969)
I have no problem with the shift, just with the way it is employed. I was watching the Tigers-Rangers game yesterday. The Tigers second baseman was playing Joey Gallo about where you would put your right fielder with the potential winning run on third base and less than two outs in the 9th inning. (Gallo did beat the shift once by hitting a ball over it and halfway to Toledo for a massive two-run blast.) Let teams shift, but have all infielders start play on the infield. If teams want to let their second baseman race back into short right field once the pitcher releases the ball, fine. Three innings of those sprints should wear out any second basemen and teams would stop doing it.

As for Harper, the games I've watched him play recently looks like he is pulling up on the ball, perhaps looking for loft. Pulling up on the pitch is much worse than pulling off the pitch. The latter cuts down on plate coverage and power. The former causes your head to move up, changing eye level as you swing. Think about how hard it would be to hit a stationary golf ball if you raise your head up on your swing. Now try hitting a baseball moving at high speed doing it. I'm a Harper fan, but his swing is a total mess right now...
   43. The Duke Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5705976)
I’m not buying that hitting to the opposite field is easy IF your whole career routine has been a pull hitter. The slappy singles guy who do this with ease have learned to adapt in the minors in order to be successful.

As for bunting, bunting for a sacrifice should be relatively easy. Bunting for a hit down the opposite line is not easy. I was a bunter when I played and when you are bunting for a hit, you tend to be in motion and your natural bunting motion is to “pull” the bunt.

Opposite field bunting for a hit is hard. Your body is in motion and it requires you hit it hard enough to get it past the pitcher.

I’m not saying it can’t be done but I can understand why guys like matt carpenter choose to hit into the shift. If 60% success rate is what is required, I wouldn’t do it.
   44. wjones Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5705979)
#34--that link is great. I think that may answer (at least partially) one thing that's always puzzled me about the Mick. He was a high-average, high-power, high-K hitter with extraordinarily low doubles totals. In my mind, low-average power hitters (your Kingman types) of course strike out a lot, but also hit a lot of fly balls/pop ups. When they get enough of one they go out, but when they don't it's an easy catch for the defense. Thus you get single-season lines like 19 2B/48 HR (Kingman '79).

High-average power hitters (aka, the best hitters) always seemed to mix a lot of doubles into their production. That's because, again in my mind, they're making a lot of contact and hitting a lot of line drives. They hit lots of HR, but a hard hit line-drive that doesn't go out is very likely to be a double. Then you get lines like 2009 Pujols, 45 2B/47 HR.

Mantle always seemed unique to me in that he could hit for high average, but still had Kingman-like results--16 2B/54 HR in 1961 as an example. If he was really bunting as often as claimed, that would at least partially explain it. He's apparently tied for ninth all-time in bunt base-hits with no one on base, at least as of 2012.

My guess is that if you take a Kingman style hitter and add more contact (fewer K's), and then give more speed to beat out ground balls, and add a pile of successful bunts on top, you then get a hitter with Kingman-type power numbers who also gets a lot more singles and therefore has a significantly higher batting average, and voila, Mickey Mantle.



What also helped Mantle immensely is that he had a unique combination of tremendous power and tremendous speed. An early day Bo Jackson, but with better strike zone judgment. His tremendous power made infielders play deep, so if he dropped an effective bunt down, with his speed, no way to throw him out. But you couldn't come in on him at risk of your life.

I don't know if this partially explains it or not, but one of his old teammates, I believe Kubek, said he lost more center field homers to the deep dimensions of Yankee Stadium than anyone in history. That being the case, it sounds like opposing outfielders would play very deep on him, so fly balls either go out, get caught, or drop in front of him, which if cut off and thrown in properly would be singles. So the playing deep not only cut down on his average, it also most likely cut down on his doubles also.
   45. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5705984)
I’m not buying that hitting to the opposite field is easy IF your whole career routine has been a pull hitter.


No one said it was easy. We said a Major League quality hitter should be able to master the skill.
   46. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5705985)
It wasn't just Mantle, right? I may be wrong, but the Yankees (and maybe even the entire AL) hit fewer doubles during that time than during other eras.
   47. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5705987)
I have no problem with the shift, just with the way it is employed. I was watching the Tigers-Rangers game yesterday. The Tigers second baseman was playing Joey Gallo about where you would put your right fielder with the potential winning run on third base and less than two outs in the 9th inning. (Gallo did beat the shift once by hitting a ball over it and halfway to Toledo for a massive two-run blast.) Let teams shift, but have all infielders start play on the infield.


Why? The shortstop was originally an OF position. Why should the offense get to dictate where the defense aligns? Do we go back to having the hitter pick fastball or breaking ball and location as well?
   48. Darren Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5705988)
I'd like to see some data about lousy hitters successfully hit and running all the time.


I said all the time--isn't that precise enough?
   49. eric Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5705999)
It wasn't just Mantle, right? I may be wrong, but the Yankees (and maybe even the entire AL) hit fewer doubles during that time than during other eras.


Curious that deeper dimensions seemed to be the cause of fewer doubles, when in this very thread we're discussing moving fences back to reduce HR and allow for more 2B and 3B.

If that reduced-2B trend affected the entire AL in the 50's maybe it was just a cultural shift towards having the OF play deeper?
   50. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5706002)
Amazingly, Harper is not in the Nationals' top 10 of bWAR this year (mainly due to poor fielding, to be fair).
   51. Rally Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5706008)
Mantle had decent double numbers early in his career, including 37 one year. Plus he was stretching a lot of doubles into triples. In mid to late career he just stopped hitting doubles. Maybe he was just conserving his legs as best he could. His raw totals also look a bit lower because he walked so much and missed a decent chunk of games. On a per 500 AB basis Mantle had 26 2b + 3b over his career. Average for the 400+ homerun club is 30. He's below average there but well ahead of guys like McGwire, Kingman, and Killebrew.
   52. Morty Causa Posted: July 06, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5706013)
Williams speaks about the shift in his book, of course. He maintains he was not cowed by it, that he did hit the other way, especially later in his career. But, I think he also makes an important point when he holds that the pitcher and the defense is giving up something, too, when they adhere to an extreme version of the shift. In a way they are threading a needle by verging always on pitching to his strength. The hitter is more likely, if he uses his brain and knows the pitcher, to know what's coming.
   53. filihok Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5706018)
Opposing teams gave Barry Bonds 120 free bases in 2004
Are we sure they'd quite shifting if a guy started hunting for a lot of singles
   54. Darren Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5706023)
Opposing teams gave Barry Bonds 120 free bases in 2004
Are we sure they'd quite shifting if a guy started hunting for a lot of singles


No. But if the player is putting up a .500/.500/.500 line while bunting, they'd be wrong.
   55. eric Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5706025)
Mantle had 37 doubles when he was 20, and only hit 23 HR. By then time he was 24 he went 22/52. His second-best season total for doubles was 28 at age 25.

On a per 500 AB basis Mantle had 26 2b + 3b over his career. Average for the 400+ homerun club is 30. He's below average there but well ahead of guys like McGwire, Kingman, and Killebrew.


I guess I feel this more supports the idea that he had unusually low doubles totals. Where does he rank by BA (or, better yet, BA+) in the 400 HR club? He's on the McGwire/Kingman side of the spectrum for doubles much more than the Pujols/Williams side, but is on the Pujols/Williams side of overall hitting ability and BA, at least relative to league. In his 16/54 season, Mantle hit .317. In his 22/52 season, he hit .353 and won the triple crown.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5706026)
Opposing teams gave Barry Bonds 120 free bases in 2004
Are we sure they'd quite shifting if a guy started hunting for a lot of singles


If they don't, and are willing to give your slugger a 500/500/500 batting line, you should be very grateful for their stupidity. That's more valuable than pretty much every hitter in baseball.

Edit: Coke to Darren
   57. Shredder Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5706039)
Let teams shift, but have all infielders start play on the infield.
I'll stick with rule 5.02(c)
(c) Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory.
This isn't co-ed softball, where it's kinda dickish to bring everyone in when a girl is up. We're not trying to protect players feelings. I guess I just don't see the shift as being that different than a pitcher finding a batter's weakness and exploiting it. If a batter can't hit a curve ball, pitchers should keep throwing him curveballs until he either learns to hit them or quits. If I player can't beat the shift, teams should keep shifting until he learns to hit around it or over it. Is it unfair for an infielder to play in on the grass if he knows a batter is going to bunt?

Are there any stats regarding how often teams employ the shift in the minors? Presumably there's a lot less data on each hitter, so my guess would be that it's used a lot less. Furthermore, if you're trying to develop a short stop, you probably want him at short most of the time, instead of roving around. But the minors is where hitters learn to strengthen their weaknesses. If teams aren't shifting much in the minors, it presents kind of a interesting dilemma. I would assume scouts are already working on this. Does a certain player project poorly because, despite success at every stop in minors, MLB teams will shift on him all the time? How do you calculate an equivalent average that takes PBP data into account to show that a guy who hit .335 in AA may normally project to .285 at the major league level, but may really only hit .235 in the majors, partly due to being an extreme pull hitter. Just another front in the scouting arms race.

Forgive me if this has already been said. I would leave things as they are. The last thing baseball needs is a bunch of lines (visible or not) on the field determining who can play where.
   58. GuyM Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5706045)
About 17% Mantle's hits were 2B/3B, slightly below league average for his time. That's definitely on the low end for great hitters, below Mays (20%), Pujols (21%), and Williams (22%), and far behind Musial (25%). BUT, Mantle's annual doubles totals are low in part simply because his hit totals were low, a function of his enormous walk totals (and injuries, in later years). While Pujols has averaged 175 hits per season, Mantle averaged only 139.
   59. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5706047)

If they don't, and are willing to give your slugger a 500/500/500 batting line, you should be very grateful for their stupidity. That's more valuable than pretty much every hitter in baseball.


This actually becomes more true when you account for game situations. Down by 2 in the bottom of the ninth and Big Slugging Lefty is leading off, that free base is HUGELY valuable. Likewise, down by one with two outs and no one on, hell let BSL swing for the fences and maybe he ties the game in one fell swoop.
   60. TJ Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:56 PM (#5706057)
This isn't co-ed softball, where it's kinda dickish to bring everyone in when a girl is up. We're not trying to protect players feelings. I guess I just don't see the shift as being that different than a pitcher finding a batter's weakness and exploiting it. If a batter can't hit a curve ball, pitchers should keep throwing him curveballs until he either learns to hit them or quits. If I player can't beat the shift, teams should keep shifting until he learns to hit around it or over it. Is it unfair for an infielder to play in on the grass if he knows a batter is going to bunt?


This topic is not about fairness, it is about the quality of the game. Baseball has always changed and adjusted rules based on what they perceive to be for the good of the game. Mounds have been changed, rules have been instituted on park dimensions, equipment has been regulated, spitballs banned, etc. Baseball obviously does not feel that pitching to a batter's weakness, playing in for a bunt, and any other common examples of in-game strategy negatively affect the product. If baseball feels the shift is negatively affecting the quality of their product, they by all means have the obligation to their stakeholders (ranging from owners to fans) to do something about it. If baseball does not feel that the shift negatively affects their product, then they will leave it alone. Personally, I don't enjoy watching a hitter smack a one-hop liner to an infielder stationed in right field and get thrown out at first. If anyone does, then more power to you. I won't dispute your enjoyment...
   61. bunyon Posted: July 06, 2018 at 01:57 PM (#5706058)
As for bunting, bunting for a sacrifice should be relatively easy. Bunting for a hit down the opposite line is not easy. I was a bunter when I played and when you are bunting for a hit, you tend to be in motion and your natural bunting motion is to “pull” the bunt.

It's incredibly hard when there is a third baseman and your bunt needs to die near the line. Yes, I agree, most hitters shouldn't rely on this type of bunt.

When NO ONE is on the left side of the field, it becomes a lot easier. The bunt doesn't have to die. In fact, you can bunt very hard. All the ball has to do is get past the pitcher on that side and you're on base. My constantly talking about doubles is that if the bunted ball can make the outfield grass and the batter is fast, a double is in play.

I think the folks arguing about how hard hitting the other way are missing is that these aren't normal shifts. These are wild, no one on half the field shifts. I'm very comfortable saying Bryce Harper, and pretty much anyone else with MLB talent, can easily bunt/hit a ball past the pitcher to one side of the field.

As for whether they should or not, Harper's agent is claiming the shift is hurting him. So...he should do something about that then.

Joey Gallo, another extreme shifted hitter, has an OPS+ of 96, despite slugging 445. Again, game theory, if he pushes the ball past the pitcher to the left side when the game situation calls for a runner, he'd be much more valuable.

It's not easy to go the other way with authority or to guide the ball through fielders. But if there are no fielders and it just has to get past the pitcher, everyone above AA ball could learn to do it. They don't want to. And there are many situations in which that is the right call. But there are a lot of others where it isn't. Ignoring free bases when you need men on is dumb.
   62. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5706061)
Personally, I don't enjoy watching a hitter smack a one-hop liner to an infielder stationed in right field and get thrown out at first.
Out of curiosity, why?

Baseball has always been full of different, but equivalent, plays.
   63. bunyon Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5706062)
TJ, I don't enjoy watching it either. I just blame the hitter rather the fielder. It's the fielder's job to get the batter out. If he does it well, I can't really blame him. The hitter's job is to get on base. If he sucks at it, I blame him.
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5706065)
This topic is not about fairness, it is about the quality of the game. Baseball has always changed and adjusted rules based on what they perceive to be for the good of the game. Mounds have been changed, rules have been instituted on park dimensions, equipment has been regulated, spitballs banned, etc. Baseball obviously does not feel that pitching to a batter's weakness, playing in for a bunt, and any other common examples of in-game strategy negatively affect the product. If baseball feels the shift is negatively affecting the quality of their product, they by all means have the obligation to their stakeholders (ranging from owners to fans) to do something about it. If baseball does not feel that the shift negatively affects their product, then they will leave it alone. Personally, I don't enjoy watching a hitter smack a one-hop liner to an infielder stationed in right field and get thrown out at first. If anyone does, then more power to you. I won't dispute your enjoyment...

I agree with this.
   65. TJ Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:03 PM (#5706066)
This actually becomes more true when you account for game situations. Down by 2 in the bottom of the ninth and Big Slugging Lefty is leading off, that free base is HUGELY valuable. Likewise, down by one with two outs and no one on, hell let BSL swing for the fences and maybe he ties the game in one fell swoop.


I could not agree more, Jose, and this lack of situational hitting is more of a problem with today's game than the shift, IMO.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5706069)
Personally, I don't enjoy watching a hitter smack a one-hop liner to an infielder stationed in right field and get thrown out at first.

Personally I don't enjoy watching hitters who are too pigheaded even to try to go the opposite way when a giant Christmas present is offered them. The last thing baseball needs is some sort of affirmative action for dummies.
   67. TJ Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5706072)
Out of curiosity, why?

Baseball has always been full of different, but equivalent, plays.


Thank you for asking Nicely Nate (changed your handle for the reply). Personally, I like to see hits, and I like singles, doubles and triples more than home runs. Big flies are cool, but plays that have runners racing around the bases, fielders making relays, close plays at the plate, all are more fun for me to watch. Any practice that inhibits hits takes away from my enjoyment.

One thing that drives me nuts are hitters having a total lack of two-strike approach. You want to swing for the fences your first two strikes, go for it, shift be damned. Get two strikes on you and you still want to swing away (or even worse, hit into the shift when the opposition is giving you a hit the other way) just ticks me off. Maybe it is because, when I was younger, I might gear up to go deep with less than two strikes. If I got two on me, I felt it was selfish to keep swinging for the fences if there was an easy single out there waiting for me. (All situational dependent, of course...)

PS- This is just my personal enjoyment of the game, which is separate from my view on baseball's authority to regulate the game.
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5706078)
This topic is not about fairness, it is about the quality of the game.

If you want to improve both fairness and the quality of the game at the same time, bring in the RoboUmps** and get rid of those "personalized" strike zones.

** Once they're perfected. Until then, penalize umps who consistently expand the strike zone by keeping them confined to the bases.
   69. Nasty Nate Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5706081)
Thank you for asking Nicely Nate (changed your handle for the reply). Personally, I like to see hits, and I like singles, doubles and triples more than home runs. Big flies are cool, but plays that have runners racing around the bases, fielders making relays, close plays at the plate, all are more fun for me to watch. Any practice that inhibits hits takes away from my enjoyment.
And thank you for the nice response.
   70. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:18 PM (#5706082)
One thing that drives me nuts are hitters having a total lack of two-strike approach.

You and me both. It's as if they think trying to put the ball in play with two strikes is somehow unconstitutional.
   71. TJ Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5706084)
You're welcome- and now we return everyone to your regularly scheduled scoffing at Scott Boras...
   72. Shredder Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5706095)
When NO ONE is on the left side of the field, it becomes a lot easier. The bunt doesn't have to die. In fact, you can bunt very hard. All the ball has to do is get past the pitcher on that side and you're on base. My constantly talking about doubles is that if the bunted ball can make the outfield grass and the batter is fast, a double is in play.
And it becomes even easier when a professional hitter puts some work into practicing it. If you're Barry Bonds, it's one thing. You may want him to bunt his way one occasionally if means he doesn't hurt you in other ways. If you're a guy like Kole Calhoun, it's entirely different. Even against a defense playing him straight up, he's not that great of a hitter, so just the threat of bunting for an easy hit, if he could prove that he's learned to do it consistently, should be enough to get teams to give him a little more respect.

The mound, the spitball, etc. those are all excellent counterpoints. But I'd argue that hitting the spitter, or hitting off a pitcher on a higher mound isn't really a skill that individual batters learn (though I'm willing to be shown that I'm wrong). My guess is that the mound height depressed offense across the league, and lowering increased offense across the league. Banning the shift isn't really fair to players who have learned to hit around it. Why make the game easier for the subset of players who refuse to learn the same skills that the rest of the league has learned?

I guess it seems different because it's baseball, and aside from different pitches coming into and out of vogue, reliever usage, and the back and forth between stolen bases/home runs, team strategy hasn't really changed all that much over the years, at least defensively. But this happens all the time in every other sport (especially football). Someone develops an effective offensive strategy, everybody copies it, and others start working on a strategy to stop it. Rinse, repeat. To me, the shift is the manifestation of this in baseball. You have an approach at the plate, I've figured out an effective way to stop it, and now it's incumbent on you to find a way to counter.
   73. Shredder Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5706109)
.
   74. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 06, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5706114)
When NO ONE is on the left side of the field, it becomes a lot easier. The bunt doesn't have to die. In fact, you can bunt very hard. All the ball has to do is get past the pitcher on that side and you're on base.

Agreed.

Going back to Rizzo as an example. This video is 4 years old, but it contains two bunt singles in the same game. He squares early, like a sacrifice, and bunts it hard down the line. Once it gets past the pitcher, there is basically no way to get him. The video includes his next at bat where STL is forced to play him straight up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfn_e-WtaDs
   75. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 03:46 PM (#5706205)
Personally, I don't enjoy watching a hitter smack a one-hop liner to an infielder stationed in right field and get thrown out at first.
Hey, at least it's a baseball play that moves the game forward. Let's first get rid of all the wasted time when nothing of the sort is happening, and then we can see what we still need to change to maintain or increase overall appeal.
   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5706248)
Hey, at least it's a baseball play that moves the game forward. Let's first get rid of all the wasted time when nothing of the sort is happening, and then we can see what we still need to change to maintain or increase overall appeal.

Two separate issues, but both important.
   77. PreservedFish Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5706252)
I love shifting. I think it's fascinating and exciting.
   78. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:14 PM (#5706256)
Two separate issues, but both important.
Separate, but I would argue interrelated to some extent.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5706268)
Separate, but I would argue interrelated to some extent.

Sure. Less TTO would speed up the game, through fewer pitches per PA. But, if there is still 25 seconds between each pitch, the pace won't improve. You'll get a 2:45 sluggish game, instead of a 3:00 sluggish game. I want a 2:30 game that moves along at pace.
   80. Tim M Posted: July 06, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5706302)
I can't fathom the mindset that wants to ban shifting. It is interesting, it is risky, it adds variety, it rewards hitters who are more skillful. It gives you something to talk about when you're at the park, whether it works or not. I love the game as much as anyone but admit it, it needs all the "spice" it can get. To take away this bit for ... what reason, because it is "unfair" to stubborn hitters who refuse to adapt, it blows my mind.
   81. SoSH U at work Posted: July 06, 2018 at 05:22 PM (#5706303)

I can't fathom the mindset that wants to ban shifting. It is interesting, it is risky, it adds variety, it rewards hitters who are more skillful. It gives you something to talk about when you're at the park, whether it works or not. I love the game as much as anyone but admit it, it needs all the "spice" it can get. To take away this bit for ... what reason, because it is "unfair" to stubborn hitters who refuse to adapt, it blows my mind.


Well said.
   82. Tim M Posted: July 06, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5706308)
Let me add, Boras's comments here are very strange, in that they don't help Harper's cause at all. He should have said something about Harper's BABIP is sure to rise and he has been "unlucky" w/ hard hit balls not finding holes. Instead his comments read as "unless MLB bans shifts, my guy is pretty much screwed".
   83. Morty Causa Posted: July 06, 2018 at 05:48 PM (#5706321)
I can't fathom the mindset that wants to ban shifting.

Me too.

To take away this bit for ... what reason, because it is "unfair" to stubborn hitters who refuse to adapt, it blows my mind.

I think it's a little more complicated than just stubbornness. It is hard to alter a mindset that built up over a lifetime, whether that's an approach to hitting or, say, stopping drinking. It's not that easy. I know people who are baseball fans and hate the DH and can't understand why pitchers aren't just made to be better hitters, chop chop.
   84. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 06, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5706330)
Less TTO would speed up the game, through fewer pitches per PA. But, if there is still 25 seconds between each pitch, the pace won't improve. You'll get a 2:45 sluggish game, instead of a 3:00 sluggish game. I want a 2:30 game that moves along at pace.

Glad you mentioned game times, because I just rediscovered this timely article from SB Nation that explains nearly the entire problem:

WHY BASEBALL GAMES ARE SO DAMNED LONG
On April 13, 1984, the Mets played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The home team won, 11-2. Both teams combined to throw 270 pitches. Both teams combined to allow 27 baserunners, and 74 batters came to the plate. There was exactly one mid-inning pitching change.

On April 17, 2014, the Brewers played the Pirates at PNC Park. The home team won, 11-2. Both teams combined to throw 268 pitches. Both teams combined to allow 27 baserunners, and 75 batters came to the plate. There was exactly one mid-inning pitching change.

The game from 1984 lasted two hours and 31 minutes.

The game from 2014 lasted three hours and six minutes.

Our goal is to figure out where the extra 35 minutes came from. ...

Why are modern baseball games so much longer? Is it because of extra commercials? Batters fidgeting with their batting gloves? On-field delays? Slow home-run trots? It has to be the commercials, right? ...

Time between pitches is the primary villain. I tallied up all the pitches in both games that we’ll call inaction pitches — pitches that resulted in a ball, called strike, or swinging strike, but didn’t result in the end of an at-bat or the advancement of a runner. These are the pitches where the catcher caught the ball and threw it back to the pitcher, whose next step was to throw it back to the catcher. Foul balls didn’t count. The fourth ball of a plate appearance didn’t count. Stolen bases didn’t count. Wild pitches didn’t count. Just the pitches where contact wasn’t made, and the pitcher received a return throw from the catcher.

There were 146 inaction pitches in the 1984 game.

There were 144 of these pitches in the 2014 game.

The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 — the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch — was 32 minutes and 47 seconds.

The total time for inaction pitches in 2014 was 57 minutes and 41 seconds.

This is how a game can have an almost identical number of pitches thrown, batters faced, baserunners, hits, walks, strikeouts, and runs scored compared to another game, yet take more than a half-hour longer. This, plus the modest difference in commercial breaks, explains nearly everything. It took nine seconds longer for a pitcher to get rid of the ball in 2014.

In the 1984 game, there were 70 inaction pitches that were returned to the pitcher and thrown back to the plate within 15 seconds.

In the 2014 game, there were 10.

In the 1984 game, there were 32 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches

In 2014, there were 87 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches.

That’s it. That’s the secret. It isn’t just the commercials. It isn’t just the left-handed pitchers coming in to face one batter, even though that absolutely makes a huge difference in the games when that does happen.

It’s not like every at-bat in the 2014 game was rotten with hitters doing a Nomar Garciaparra impression between pitches, either. It was a marked difference in the modern players doing absolutely nothing of note. The batter taking an extra breath before he steps back in. The pitcher holding the ball for an extra beat. ...

Pitchers don’t get rid of the ball like they used to. Hitters aren’t expecting them to get rid of the ball like they used to. It adds a couple minutes to every half-inning, which adds close to a half-hour.

Fix that, and you have a head start on what Major League Baseball believes is its biggest problem. ...

Where there's a will, there's a way. Which is why there's no way to reduce game times, while games just keep dragging on forever.
   85. Colin Posted: July 06, 2018 at 06:04 PM (#5706333)
Let me add, Boras's comments here are very strange, in that they don't help Harper's cause at all. He should have said something about Harper's BABIP is sure to rise and he has been "unlucky" w/ hard hit balls not finding holes. Instead his comments read as "unless MLB bans shifts, my guy is pretty much screwed".


That's what puzzles me here. Boras isn't helping his client by telling prospective suitors that he has a huge weakness that he cannot yet solve within the game as it is played right now.
   86. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 06:53 PM (#5706347)
Glad you mentioned game times, because I just rediscovered this timely article from SB Nation that explains nearly the entire problem:

Yes. Great article. I've linked to that one before.
   87. Pirate Joe Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:29 PM (#5706387)
When NO ONE is on the left side of the field, it becomes a lot easier. The bunt doesn't have to die. In fact, you can bunt very hard. All the ball has to do is get past the pitcher on that side and you're on base.



In a Pirate game last week Gregory Polonco bunted for a base hit against a shift where the third baseman was playing where the shortstop normally does. They showed the replay of what Polonco was doing and he stood in the box just like he was trying to sacrifice rather than being on the move like you normally would when attempting to bunt for a hit. John Wehner was doing the color commentary and he pointed out that was exactly the way you should bunt in that situation, because if you simply bunt the ball hard enough that the pitcher can't field it you will easily be safe whether you are moving on the pitch or not.

And sure enough, by the time the third baseman was picking the ball up Polonco was already crossing first base.

   88. bunyon Posted: July 06, 2018 at 08:55 PM (#5706394)
Exactly. You aren't "bunting for a hit" in the normal sense. You're just bunting. And you don't even have to deaden the ball the way you would when you sacrifice.

If you have the hand/eye coordination to hit homers, you can learn to bunt.
   89. Hank Gillette Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:36 PM (#5706398)
I love this bunt.
   90. Ray (CTL) Posted: July 06, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5706403)
Setting the Boras Derangement Syndrome aside:

1. Are LHB hurt more by the shift than RHB?
2. Is there any evidence that Harper specifically is hurt more by the shift than the average LHB (or RHB)?
3. Does the shift actually have an effect on run prevention? Has league BABIP gone down over the course of the past decade? Slugging average on balls in play? (For example the shift may simply have no effect, or it may have an effect but hitters are adequately compensating.)

I doubt it's so simple even for a MLB hitter to go oppo against MLB pitching. At a minimum you'd be a different profile hitter. Whether that nets out to the positive or negative is hard to say.

It's possible that this whole thing might come out as a wash.
   91. Mefisto Posted: July 07, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5706511)
I guess it's time to dust off the old Al Lopez quote about Mays and apply it to Harper: Harper is a .270 hitter who might hit .300 if they teach him to bunt down the third base line.
   92. Dale Sams Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5706656)
I think “hitting the ball the other way” is more problematic than everyone makes it seem


Look for pitchs on the outside. They certainly happen.
   93. Hank Gillette Posted: July 07, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5706669)
1. Are LHB hurt more by the shift than RHB?


That would seem to almost have to be true, since the shifts for left-handed batters are much more extreme than for right-handers.
   94. bunyon Posted: July 07, 2018 at 10:46 PM (#5706861)
As I've said over and over, "hitting the ball the other way with authority" is very hard. Hitting it the other way isn't. When no one is on that side of the field, you don't have to smoke the ball.

With that said, Harper had a nice night tonight. His BABIP will come back, even with the shift. Probably too late to keep him from having a pretty ugly slash line for the year but his OBP will be high due to all the walks. I suspect he'll take whatever big contract comes his way this offseason.
   95. Ray (CTL) Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:01 PM (#5706863)
With that said, Harper had a nice night tonight. His BABIP will come back, even with the shift. Probably too late to keep him from having a pretty ugly slash line for the year but his OBP will be high due to all the walks. I suspect he'll take whatever big contract comes his way this offseason.


He has an .850 OPS (125 OPS+) in a bad year. He's not a .219 hitter. Nor is he a .219 BABIP hitter. He is at or near the league lead in walks and home runs. There is simply nothing wrong with him. Nor do I believe the -11 RField is anything but a fluke. I don't really understand how b-r gets a replacement-level player out of his 2018 season, but whatever. He's fine.

What he should do is sign a one year contract for the highest AAV he can get and then re-up after 2019.

And yes, I expect him to start playing better immediately. This is the absolute worst his BABIP can be unless he's hurt. I expect him to have something close to a 150 OPS+ when all is said and done. The skills are there, and have been there. With even a normal BABIP he'd be having a monster year with the walks and homers.
   96. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:12 PM (#5706871)
 I expect him to have something close to a 150 OPS+ when all is said and done.

I agree with everything else you said, but this is crazy, as it implies you're expecting a RoS OPS+ of about 180.
   97. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:20 PM (#5706873)
I agree with everything else you said, but this is crazy, as it implies you're expecting a RoS OPS+ of about 180.


Not only that, but he has has had a 150 OPS+ only twice in 6 years. 3 of them below 120. But then this is "it's over. It's always been over" Ray.
   98. Ray (CTL) Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:22 PM (#5706874)
I agree with everything else you said, but this is crazy, as it implies you're expecting a RoS OPS+ of about 180.


I am indeed. Other than the fluke BABIP that's the level he's been playing at. Again -- he's at the top of the league in walks and homers. And his career BABIP is .314.
   99. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:28 PM (#5706875)
I am indeed. Other than the fluke BABIP that's the level he's been playing at. Again -- he's at the top of the league in walks and homers. And his career BABIP is .314.


Both of which are far out of context with his career norms.
   100. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 07, 2018 at 11:28 PM (#5706876)
He has an .850 OPS (125 OPS+) in a bad year. He's not a .219 hitter. Nor is he a .219 BABIP hitter. He is at or near the league lead in walks and home runs. There is simply nothing wrong with him. Nor do I believe the -11 RField is anything but a fluke. I don't really understand how b-r gets a replacement-level player out of his 2018 season, but whatever. He's fine.

I'm sure Harper will improve over the second half of the season, but at this point he has fewer WAR than Matt Wieters. Over the past 2 months+ his offensive line is .188 /.311 /.416 /.727.

What he should do is sign a one year contract for the highest AAV he can get and then re-up after 2019.

Totally agree with that strategy. He'd be crazy to try to maximize his value coming off a year like this, unless he somehow reverts to the Bryce Harper of 2015 over the second half of the season.
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