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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Economist: Paradigm shift

Does Mark Teixeira need to learn from Carlos Peña?

Baseball strategy is not a puzzle with a single solution. Instead, it is a dynamic system, in which a tactic that works against one approach can be neutralised by another. And when it comes to shifts, the response is as clear as the sea of empty infield dirt abandoned by the defenders congregating on one side of the diamond…

Sluggers who can bunt are the new market inefficiency, and the first team that has its power hitters practising this wimpy technique will enjoy a crucial edge.

David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: May 23, 2012 at 06:46 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: defense

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   1. hardrain Posted: May 23, 2012 at 09:49 PM (#4139069)
Tex announced today that he will "go back" to pulling the ball into the shift. Apparently he was trying to go the other way. (Keyword: trying). At least he walked three times tonight.
   2. Cblau Posted: May 23, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4139072)
The Indians used four infielders on the right side against Williams.
   3. bigglou115 Posted: May 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4139079)
I think what we're going to find is that this is one of those easier said than done things. A lot of these guys haven't bunted since high school, getting them trained to get it past the pitcher without fouling it off is probably a bigger undertaking than any of us realize.
   4. gator92 Posted: May 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4139232)
Tex announced today that he will "go back" to pulling the ball into the shift.

That's what he wants them to think...
   5. Johnny Slick Posted: May 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4139327)
I'm pretty sure you also have to have the speed to get to first base. Even with an overshifted infield, you still have to outrun the pitcher to the ball and then the throw. Also, if you're putting up like an .800 OPS even with the shift, how well do you have to execute that bunt to break even? I mean, just OPS against OPS you'd need to hit around .400, although I don't know that it's as easy as that. Still, even if it's .350, I'm not sure that's a level of ability most sluggers have.

OTOH if you were to do this successfully enough, and more to the point convince the other guys that it is successful, you might eventually get them to stop shifting on you. Given that managers still occasionally think it's a good idea to intentionally walk hot hitters with the bases loaded, I think this might be a tough sell, and in the meantime you as a slugger are hitting an empty .330 and getting knocked by the fans and your teammates (maybe not your manager) for your lack of DINGERS and ribbies.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4139333)
Sluggers who can bunt are the new market inefficiency, and the first team that has its power hitters practising this wimpy technique will enjoy a crucial edge.

Historical note: Mickey Mantle was perhaps the finest drag bunter of his day. And in game 7 of the 1952 World Series, you can see Jackie Robinson and "roly poly" Roy Campanella beating out successive bunts down the third base line. There's little question that a slugger who knows how to bunt for a hit can give the defenses another thing to worry about.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: May 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4139338)
Also, if you're putting up like an .800 OPS even with the shift, how well do you have to execute that bunt to break even? I mean, just OPS against OPS you'd need to hit around .400, although I don't know that it's as easy as that. Still, even if it's .350, I'm not sure that's a level of ability most sluggers have.


You'd have to be successful on 40 percent of the bunts that were put in play, which probably isn't that difficult at all for a decent bunter against the shift. But if you drop one foul, you still have a chance for the other outcomes that led to your .800 OPS (though, obviously, at somewhat reduced odds).

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