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Monday, March 26, 2018

Tangotiger Blog: Shift v NoShift Preliminary Statcast Research

Don’t have time right now to read this right now. It looks interesting, though.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 26, 2018 at 12:01 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: March 26, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5643342)
Methodological decisions aside, the takeaway is

1. The shift doesn't seem to work against RHB
2. The shift mainly only works really well against LHB with a runner on 1B only
3. Maybe it also works really well against LHB with runners on 1B and 3B -- this was conditional on the quality of the pitcher

In short, the shift makes sense to cover the hole against LHB created by the 1B holding the runner on. Otherwise meh.

The main methodological decision, which I'm not particularly fond of but which there's an argument for, is that he uses wOBA. This continues the odd tradition that teams employ shifts to take away HRs. The results here are at least sensible though -- the shift mainly works only against LHB and only when it covers the big hole at 1B ... which is consistent with the idea that it is employed to reduce production on GB (and maybe some LD) and that its effect on that is quite limited.

The article doesn't seem to get into the history. It shows that the shift is obviously employed a LOT against elite pull LHB (the "Ortiz bias") ... but that's been true since Ted Williams. Ortiz batted against the shift pretty much his entire career. So you take elite pull LHB (who've always faced the shift), add all LHB with runner on 1B and 2B open and you have the magical shift effect that everybody went crazy about a few years ago.

Who'd a thunk it?
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: March 26, 2018 at 05:15 PM (#5643401)
I'm reading through the PDF, I like the way he overcomes the "Ortiz" bias, and he does a good job of explaining the thinking and the methodology.

I do have to question when is the definition of the shift included? I mean are we only looking at plate ending appearances? The Cardinals do not shift on every pitch of a plate appearance, instead they shift based upon what they think is advantageous to them. As an example, a team might only shift on 1-0 counts or 2-0 counts, 2-1 counts where the team feels the hitter is more likely to swing away and not shift on 0-1, 1-1 or 1-2 counts. Is Tango accounting for the count, or just the base/out state and the entire plate appearance based upon where the defense is at the end of the count?

If he's just looking at the final plate appearances, and I'm right that there is a tendency to shift in situations in which the batter has the advantage, then you would almost expect for the batter to have a better wOBA, even if the shift is working.

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