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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 06, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4381788)
I've always felt that moving the third baseman into what Joe Castiglione refers to as the shotgun position on the shift made a ton of sense. By doing that you keep your second baseman and shortstop in their normal positions and only one person (3B) is out of position.

I don't know if Middlebrooks has that kind of athleticism though. I don't see him as being especially athletic but I could be wrong.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 06, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4381789)
Middlebrooks was a total tools goof as a draft pick, a shortstop/quarterback with limited baseball skills but power and upside to dream on. His development into an actual baseball player, albeit one with a still underdeveloped approach at the plate, has been a great story so far. I'm confident in him as a rover in RF.
   3. Chip Posted: March 06, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4381841)
You just know the fort six negative Shaughnessy columns about the shift have already been written.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 06, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4381845)
I couldn't fit this into the post, but I thought it was funny. I found a little snippet of John Farrell talking about the shift with Nick Cafardo, and this quote is yet another lovely little demonstration of the lazy incompetence of Cafardo:
Farrell’s Blue Jays did a lot of shifting, and he plans to do some with Boston. “Yes we will shift, but to what extent, we’re going to get a better read,” he said. “We felt we had the ability to move [third baseman Brett] Lawrie around more freely. We’d like to put the third baseman on the [shortstop] hole side with lefthanded hitters.”
   5. RJ in TO Posted: March 07, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4382893)
When Farrell gets fired in a couple years for general uselessness, Brian Butterfield will make an excellent replacement for him - the guy is a wizard at coaching defense, on both the player and team level. I was thrilled when you suckers got Farrell from the Jays, but losing Butterfield actually did hurt.
   6. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 07, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4383349)
I have what may seem to be a really stupid question.

As a regular watcher of cricket, one sees the fielders shift constantly as the bowler and batsman change. What also happens is that the bowler will tailor his bowling to how the field is actually set.

With a shift against someone like Papi, does the pitcher try to throw more inside stuff or more breaking stuff(assuming RH pitcher) to entice him to pull the ball? The obvious risk being of course he really turns on one nicely and hits is 450 feet into the seats.
   7. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 07, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4383467)
I know the Rays have their pitchers adjust to the shift; I believe the pitchers also have the authority to modify or call off the shift if they want to pitch a hitter a certain way
   8. MHS Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4384204)
When Farrell gets fired in a couple years for general uselessness


I'd love it for Farrell to win a couple worldseries just to shut RJ the f up.
   9. Darren Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4384323)
I really like the the 3B in RF idea for a couple reasons. One, places the 3B rather than then 2b in position to make a long throw. Two, it means that only one defender is fielding balls in an unusual position. And three, it lets the 2B and SS continue to turn the double play, rather than getting a 3B involved.

I do wonder, though, how tempting it will be for lefty batters to just try to fight everything off the opposite way with an open left side and that short wall in left.

On the subject of shifting, wasn't there something recently about Pedroia moving before the pitch, based on catcher's signals? It was played up as a really smart move, but I wonder if it tipped off hitters, contributing to the surprisingly awful performances by the Sox pitchers. I also wonder if Butterfield will put a stop to it.
   10. tfbg9 Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4384328)
contributing to the surprisingly awful performances


Speaking of which, Varitek retires, and all of a sudden, every one of our pitchers stinks. Coincidence?
   11. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4384398)
I really like the the 3B in RF idea for a couple reasons. One, places the 3B rather than then 2b in position to make a long throw. Two, it means that only one defender is fielding balls in an unusual position. And three, it lets the 2B and SS continue to turn the double play, rather than getting a 3B involved.


Totally agree with points two and three, but isn't a throw from deep 2nd/short RF, where the ball is coming at you pretty much straight on, easier than going to your right and throwing back across your body?
   12. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4384401)


Speaking of which, Varitek retires, and all of a sudden, every one of our pitchers stinks. Coincidence?


Any word on what, if any, role Varitek and Pedro have had in ST? They are both assistants to the GM now.
   13. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 15, 2013 at 06:25 AM (#4388782)
Re Cafardo: My in-laws get the print version of the Globe so I sometimes see his stuff. His writing is so beige. I can see why the editors at the Globe have CHB onboard, but is there an audience for Nick's writing?
   14. The District Attorney Posted: March 15, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4388877)
Bill James writes frequently about how useless he thinks the shift is. He's obviously being overruled within the Sox org (and I also think he's wrong), but in any event it's kind of funny.
   15. bjhanke Posted: March 17, 2013 at 06:54 PM (#4390101)
I have vague childhood memories of discussions of the shift during the last few years of Ted Williams' career. As far as I can figure out from that, the idea was to turn Williams into a singles hitter by forcing him to hit the ball to the opposite field. Williams, being Williams, refused the bait and continued to pull the ball right into the teeth of the shift, which doesn't seem to have hurt him very much. Since it's only been a decade or two that MLB hitters have realized that they could hit for power to the opposite field, the idea, in Williams' time, wasn't horrible. It just didn't work on Ted.

At the pitifully low level at which I could ever play baseball, I've been subjected to the shift twice, because I'm a complete pull hitter, left to my own devices. It actually helped me, and was quickly abandoned in both leagues. The reason that it helped me is that I had only medium line-drive power, but a lot of bat control. You leave the 3B line unguarded, and I'm going to hit a two-hopper right down the line for a double. If you leave the SS hole open, I'll hit a two-hopper there for a single. Based on that pitiful amount of info, I'd suggest that the shift only has any chance of working if you know the hitter has some combination of the following: lousy bat control, big time power to the pull side, an inability to hit with power to the opposite field and/or a ballpark that favors power to the hitter's pull side. I have no idea how many MLB hitters fit that description. - Brock Hanke
   16. Dan Posted: March 17, 2013 at 07:03 PM (#4390105)
There's no shortage of lefty pull power hitters in the majors though. And most of them aren't able to adapt to the shift very well. Ortiz has succeeded despite the shift, but it's killed lefty Tex, seems to have hurt Hosmer after they started it last year (though he probably had other issues as well), it killed Carlos Pena's production after his breakout season in 2007. It's seemed pretty good against Saltalamacchia left-handed too. He has good LD rates and ISO, but he doesn't get enoguh singles due to the low BABIP he ends up with to have a reasonable BA and OBP. Salty's another case where there are probably multiple factors at work, but the shift from several teams seems to be part of the reason that his BA is so awful.
   17. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4390106)

I'd love it for Farrell to win a couple worldseries just to shut RJ the f up.

I enjoy the playful hatreds baseball inspires. My dad is currently nursing a grudge against Rajai Davis that always mildly amusing. I think it's about time I jumped on board...here's hoping one of the Jays proves frustratingly futile this year...Maicer Izturis perhaps?
   18. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4390142)
When Farrell gets fired in a couple years for general uselessness


I'd love it for Farrell to win a couple worldseries just to shut RJ the f up.


That wouldn't make him immune to firing...
   19. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: March 17, 2013 at 08:55 PM (#4390155)
Moving just one guy out of his normal position is the way to go.

The shift can getting inside the hitter's head. It's worth trying once on some batters for that value alone, then perhaps taking it off the next AB. Anything to get the guy thinking.

I've played outfielder in softball against some guys who always check the position of the fielders before they first step into the box. I like to take up one position against a guy like that, then move on the pitch.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4390199)
There's no shortage of lefty pull power hitters in the majors though. And most of them aren't able to adapt to the shift very well. Ortiz has succeeded despite the shift, but it's killed lefty Tex, seems to have hurt Hosmer after they started it last year (though he probably had other issues as well), it killed Carlos Pena's production after his breakout season in 2007. It's seemed pretty good against Saltalamacchia left-handed too. He has good LD rates and ISO, but he doesn't get enoguh singles due to the low BABIP he ends up with to have a reasonable BA and OBP. Salty's another case where there are probably multiple factors at work, but the shift from several teams seems to be part of the reason that his BA is so awful.

I'd like to see evidence of this. The shift basically only works on GB. Ortiz, for example, only hits a GB in 22.5% of his career PAs. His GO/AO ratio has been fairly stable throughout his career (but then he got shifted on pretty early).

Until last year, Tex had a much lower GB/FB in NY than for his career. He hit a GB in only 23.5% of his PA in his first 3 years in NY and he posted the two lowest GO/AO ratios of his career. From 2009-11, Tex hit 199 on ground balls. That's not good but the Yankee median looks to be about 230-235 and he's hit only 534 GB in that period. So we're talking about maybe 5 singles a year. For all players (300+ GB) the median is 245 (Cano conveniently enough) so that would be about 8 hits a year. Even at 8 hits a year over his typical 600ish AB, that's only 13 points of BA or about 18 points of BABIP but we're talking about a guy whose BA has dropped 40-50 points.

And he's hardly alone at that level. Ortiz is at 195, Konerko 203, Dunn 201, LaRoche 199, Soriano 197, Encarnacion 195, Matsui 193, Howard 188, Kubel 181 and Pena 138. Three of those guys are RHB. Some others -- Longoria 215, Chipper 216, Votto 224, Fielder 224, Granderson 226, Kendrick 227, Napoli 229.

If anything, he may have over-reacted to the shift by hitting more flyballs -- which led to more HR but also lower BABIP. Or it's just standard old man hitting style.

Obviously putting infielders closer to where a particular bat hits GBs will help. But most dead pull hitters (at least the ones anybody cares about) are flyball hitters. Tex gets 170-180 GB a year. Obviously you'd rather take away those 5-8 hits a year. If teams average 2 LH pull hitters, then on defense you might save 10-15 hits a year which sounds like about what Dewan found. But it's not a big enough effect to explain Tex's BA/BABIP problems.
   21. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:31 AM (#4390298)
I think it's about time I jumped on board...here's hoping one of the Jays proves frustratingly futile this year...Maicer Izturis perhaps?

Please don't root against one of the surviving ex-Expos! How about Esmil Rogers?
   22. Dan Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM (#4390310)
Teixeira in particular seems to have gone to a more extreme uppercut swing over the last few years. Not sure if he's trying to counter the shift or just jerk balls into the short porch at NYS (or more likely a combination of both).
   23. villageidiom Posted: March 18, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4390374)
I've played outfielder in softball against some guys who always check the position of the fielders before they first step into the box. I like to take up one position against a guy like that, then move on the pitch.
I used to do this all the time, especially in LF. Most of the slow-pitch sluggers are pull hitters anyway, so I'd play waaaay off the LF line when they came to bat. Just as the windup started I'd sprint toward the line, and come to a stop just before the ball was hit. From my new position, anything out of my range to my right was foul. They never hit it to my left.

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