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Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Royals Try a New Shift

One thing I absolutely didn’t expect: a five-man infield against Joey Gallo. The Royals had other plans, however. They pinched in their right fielder and rotated the rest of the outfield to compensate for it against him in his first at-bat of the season. The result was amusing, particularly if you’re a fan of the best laid plans going awry:....

Now, we can put everything together. On grounders, the Royals’ unconventional shift saves them 3.8 runs per 100 batted balls. On balls in the air, it costs them a combined 3.4 runs per 100 batted balls. That’s close enough that we should apply the tiebreaker, which is in favor of shifting. In other words, bringing in their right fielder against Gallo saved the Royals a tiny part of a run, at least per my calculations. We’re doing math in per-100-batted ball increments, but if you want to think in terms of plate appearances, my math says that the Royals save roughly 0.2 runs per 100 PAs. That’s the equivalent of roughly two points of wOBA, not exactly a huge savings.

In the end, perhaps the Royals’ shift is much ado about nothing. Or perhaps my analysis is wrong; I had to make a lot of assumptions to come to a conclusion, and some of them are closer to guesswork than scientific knowledge. I’m most surprised by how narrow the gap between the two options appears to be; it’s close to being a pure toss-up. That’s only the case because Gallo is so extreme of a hitter, though.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 11, 2023 at 05:56 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: defensive shifts, royals

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   1. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 12, 2023 at 12:45 PM (#6123726)
The article keeps calling it a 5-man infield or two-man outfield, but I don't think either of those are true. It is a non-traditional OF alignment. The RF is playing shallow to steal line-drives. Maybe a few grounders. But he is still far away from the infield.
   2. McCoy Posted: April 12, 2023 at 01:32 PM (#6123730)
I don't buy that playing a RFer shallower would cost Gallo 170 points of WOBA and thus 3.8 runs per 100. That seems to be a huge assumption
   3. Darren Posted: April 12, 2023 at 01:35 PM (#6123732)
You're right, he's still very much in the outfield. But he's positioned where the second basemen was during shifts, so I get the other side of it too.

Overall, it seems like a very small advantage that is probably not worth it.
   4. Froot Loops Posted: April 12, 2023 at 02:09 PM (#6123735)
Sounds like they're playing a rover.

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