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Baseball question....the shift...

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Baseball question....the shift...
Wed May 11, 2016 8:38 pm
  • I didn't want to clutter up the Mariners season thread with this, so I'll try a thread of its own.

    It sure seems like teams, including the Mariners, are using the shift in their defensive alignments a LOT this season. I'll admit that I haven't been a full time watcher of BB games the past few years, and I'll assume this is something that has been developing over time. I know I used to see the shift once or twice a game, maybe, or maybe only once every few games. Now it seems to be on half the time or more. Am I crazy here?

    It seems to me to be getting to where it is overused. Have hitters declined to where they can't pull the ball to beat the shift? Really. It sure leaves some huge holes in the infield defense that a hitter like Ichiro was would exploit like a bad man.

    I guess it's all based on stats and player scouting and such, but it sure seems to be kind of a risky strategy to be used so much.

    I'd welcome some comments.
    sutz
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Wed May 11, 2016 8:59 pm
  • sutz wrote:
    It seems to me to be getting to where it is overused. Have hitters declined to where they can't pull the ball to beat the shift?


    The shift usually goes to the pull side of the hitter, and forces the hitter to slap it the other way. Not being able to hit the ball the opposite way seems to be the norm in the MLB minus a select few.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Wed May 11, 2016 9:01 pm
  • Yeah it is all the rage. They set up the shift based on the odds of where each individual hitter has the best chance to hit the ball. It is not so much that hitters can't pull the ball to beat the shift as you were asking. The shift is set up to their pull side so it gives an extra fielder or two to their pull side thus making it harder to find open field on that side. Hitters try to hit to their opposite field side sometimes since there is so much open area to that side. On a guy like Ichiro when he was in his prime, I am guessing they wouldn't have used it much since he hits it all over the field.

    In addition to the hitting it also affects baserunning. Sometimes bases are left unattended because of the way the defense is configured.

    I personally am not a fan of it but I understand why teams are inclined to do it.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Wed May 11, 2016 9:08 pm
  • Back in the early days players literally used to stand damn near on the base while fielding their positions.
    Hitters adapted.

    Then players started playing in the gaps to make it tougher on the hitters.
    Hitters adapted.

    Now, with how much teams shift its only going to force players to come up with other ways of getting hits. A few times I have seen guys almost do a slap bunt the opposite way to try and get on base. If they become good at this, then the shift will not be applied to them by the opposing coach.
    Hitters will adapt.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Wed May 11, 2016 10:58 pm
  • The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Thu May 12, 2016 11:40 am
  • I think this is more complicated than most think. I'm sure if it made sense to try and slap the ball the opposite side managers would be telling hitters to do that, but they're not. Most of the time when you go the other way you get a single. One base. So each at bat can only get you one base. Going the way you naturally hit you have home runs, triples and doubles. Now, I'm not saying that none of those kinds of hits happen when going the other way, but in aggregate, even though there are more fielders and more outs you also, in aggregate get more total bases going with your natural swing tendency.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Thu May 12, 2016 11:55 am
  • Baseball is arguably the most stats driven sport there is, what with all the crazy sabermetrics..........WHIP, WAR, etc.

    So if there's a big movement towards the shift, then it's because it works percentage wise.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Thu May 12, 2016 10:13 pm
  • Tical21 wrote:The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.

    Great post man. And yeah, Teddy Ballgame was the first hitter to face the shift and I read his attitude about it was exactly as you said it was.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 4:58 am
  • Tical21 wrote:The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.


    I think the hitters unwillingness to change is why pitchers use the whole plate, why pound the inside corner on a guy that wants to pull the ball? They'll keep throwing it on the outside and hitters will continue to try pull it. Even if someone like Big Papi throw a ball into left field for a single is that the worst thing in the world? I don't see the shift going anywhere for a long time.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 8:27 am
  • getnasty wrote:
    Tical21 wrote:The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.


    I think the hitters unwillingness to change is why pitchers use the whole plate, why pound the inside corner on a guy that wants to pull the ball? They'll keep throwing it on the outside and hitters will continue to try pull it. Even if someone like Big Papi throw a ball into left field for a single is that the worst thing in the world? I don't see the shift going anywhere for a long time.


    You also have to remain unpredictable against most hitters, because if hitters know you're aiming reliably for the outside third of the plate, then it makes it much easier to guess - and crush - your next pitch.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 12:47 pm
  • The only experience I had was men's league softball.
    I'm a lefty, and was a pull hitter. SO.......... after I was 5/5 in the first game, they shifted.
    But Softball is way easier. It made me laugh. I went 4/5 the 2nd game.

    I don't remember in my 48 years aver seeing it except then, and now recently in the MLB.
    Odd they are doing it so often.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 1:59 pm
  • getnasty wrote:
    I think the hitters unwillingness to change is why pitchers use the whole plate, why pound the inside corner on a guy that wants to pull the ball? They'll keep throwing it on the outside and hitters will continue to try pull it. Even if someone like Big Papi throw a ball into left field for a single is that the worst thing in the world? I don't see the shift going anywhere for a long time.


    This is definitely true, there aren't as many complete hitters who can hit to all fields. Thus much more of the shift.

    Also for guys like Big Papi it's a pride thing. Sure they can try and dribble it down the 3rd base line for a single, but they don't care, they're going to try and pull it over the fence, especially in Fenway where it's a ridiculous 302 down the right field line.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 3:16 pm
  • The defensive shifts have really become prominent the past year or so. I think it will take hitters a few years to catch up to it, but for now, advantage to the pitchers and defense. At times it is really bothers me that players can't fundamentally just slap the ball to the other side, but easier said than done.

    Baseball is simply changing. I have a good friend who is a baseball writer and a "SABR guy," and he is very close to the Mariners and was able to go to a Q&A with Dipoto and Servais and he asked why teams/players don't bunt to attack the shift, and Dipoto said something along the lines that too much comes along with bunting. Do you want to risk a player to injury over bunting. I still don't really understand the answer, but is bunting really that "dangerous?" Here's an article he showed me the other day on bunting. Bunting is basically dying. Teams are valuing outs more than ever.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-war-on- ... 1462834309
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 5:42 pm
  • Ya, pretty much all he cool kids do it nowadays.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Fri May 13, 2016 7:53 pm
  • Tical21 wrote:The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.



    Exactly, I always took what the d gave me if they ever shifted.. Any hitter good enough to be in the show should have ample bat control to go opposite field anytime they choose.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sat May 14, 2016 12:37 pm
  • I have no problems with the shifts. You can play 9 defenders anywhere in the field.
    If a team shifts on a hitter it's up to the hitter and the coaching staff to make a team "pay" for using that tactic, or they can ignore it.

    If I were a coach I'd look for ways to burn the shift in certain situations via baserunning. If you have a speed guy on 2nd and their 3rd basemen is playing SS or right of that position (from the batters veiwpoint) I'd steal 3rd. If there is a still a shift with no one at 3rd I'd take a huge secondary lead from 3rd looking for any chance to score on a ball that trickled away from the catcher.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sat May 14, 2016 12:46 pm
  • Ambrose83 wrote:
    Tical21 wrote:The thing that amazes me the most is the disconnect between the pitchers and the defense. The logic used to be that if you wanted the hitter to hit the ball to one side or the other, you make sure your pitches are also to that side. If you shift your defense to the left side to a right handed hitter, the pitcher would make sure he threw all his pitches inside, making sure the hitter pulled the ball into the shift. It's really difficult to hit an inside pitch the other way. But you don't see that at all. The defense plays the hitter to pull, but the pitchers are still pitching away the majority of the time, unfazed by the gaping holes in their defense.

    I've heard there have been rumblings about people trying to outlaw the shift. That's ridiculous. To me, the onus falls on the hitter. If you've got a defense playing you to pull, and the pitcher is pitching outside, you've got a free hit to the opposite field if you hit a halfway hard grounder or line drive. I used to love hitting the other way anyways. It's easy. Guys are trying so hard to pull everything that it plays right into the hands of the defense, even on pitches away. I can't believe there hasn't been an adjustment by the hitters. They're giving hitters free hits and they won't take them.

    There's an ego part to this as well. Just about every big leaguer grew up as the stud on every team they ever played on, pulling and mashing the ball better than anybody else. The shift was first introduced against Ted Williams. He used to think, "I don't care where they play, I'm going to hit it hard and they can't stop me anyways." I'm sure that's what the players are thinking, just too cocky to change their gameplan. I used to love to outhink pitchers and defenses. I'll go 3-4 and make the defense look stupid all day. I really don't get how they aren't being coached every day to take the free hits.



    Exactly, I always took what the d gave me if they ever shifted.. Any hitter good enough to be in the show should have ample bat control to go opposite field anytime they choose.

    You'd think, but then again I was an up the middle, opposite field hitter anyways.
    Didn't have a shift pulled on me. If I had to dead pull the ball it would have taken some work to do it consistently though.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sat May 14, 2016 9:39 pm
  • Sports Hernia wrote:I have no problems with the shifts. You can play 9 defenders anywhere in the field.
    If a team shifts on a hitter it's up to the hitter and the coaching staff to make a team "pay" for using that tactic, or they can ignore it.

    If I were a coach I'd look for ways to burn the shift in certain situations via baserunning. If you have a speed guy on 2nd and their 3rd basemen is playing SS or right of that position (from the batters veiwpoint) I'd steal 3rd. If there is a still a shift with no one at 3rd I'd take a huge secondary lead from 3rd looking for any chance to score on a ball that trickled away from the catcher.

    The shifts do accommodate these situations.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sat May 14, 2016 9:49 pm
  • I do want to dispel the notion that you can't have any power going the other way. If you're looking for a pitch to drive the other way, it can be done pretty easily. Timing and the propensity for to pull the ball are the biggest reasons it isn't done more regularly. You have more power pulling inside pitches, sure. But it isn't as drastic of a difference as is being stated here. Even if it were the case that guys hit mostly singles going the other way, if you burn teams by that enough times, they are going to stop shifting, regardless of how many fewer home runs they may be giving up.

    Really, I'm surprised you can shift on hitters as accomplished as Seager. As far as I can tell, they don't do it much to Cano or Cruz, with great reason. Seager though, as a guy that isn't going to hit more than 25 HR anyway, should see a shift, see an outside pitch, and freaking hammer it. He's a good enough hitter to do it.

    The shift should only be effective against those big pull hitters with bad batting averages that aren't good enough hitters to do anything different. The fact that it is proving effective against the masses is a huge statement against the level of hitters coming into the league.

    Hitters nowadays are akin to basketball players that are really strong going to the hole but can't shoot a lick, and are too full of themselves to think they need to learn to shoot to be effective. You pull the ball every time you come up, so the defense puts all their guys on that side of the field, and you're not going to do a thing about it? It's disappointing, to be honest.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sun May 15, 2016 12:34 am
  • sutz wrote:I didn't want to clutter up the Mariners season thread with this, so I'll try a thread of its own.

    It sure seems like teams, including the Mariners, are using the shift in their defensive alignments a LOT this season. I'll admit that I haven't been a full time watcher of BB games the past few years, and I'll assume this is something that has been developing over time. I know I used to see the shift once or twice a game, maybe, or maybe only once every few games. Now it seems to be on half the time or more. Am I crazy here?

    It seems to me to be getting to where it is overused. Have hitters declined to where they can't pull the ball to beat the shift? Really. It sure leaves some huge holes in the infield defense that a hitter like Ichiro was would exploit like a bad man.

    I guess it's all based on stats and player scouting and such, but it sure seems to be kind of a risky strategy to be used so much.

    I'd welcome some comments.


    It's not that they can't pull the ball; rather it's that they can't hit it the other way. Being late to the thread, I'm guessing someone already corrected you on that.

    It's pretty frustrating to see a good hitter like Kyle Seager hit into the shift.

    The shift is smart, and it's good for baseball. Strategy is important. As the opposition, you're supposed to exploit and expose the weaknesses of your opponents. So when Seager hits one behind second base and the opposing team's third baseman fields it and throws him out, that's smart baseball. Learn to hit the ball the other way.

    It's like basketball. if I know you can't dribble with your left hand, I am going to play you like you're going to your right every time because I know your left hand is useless. Same concept.

    It's killing some batting averages across the league but it's on them to adjust.

    When hitters evolve and learn to spray the ball all over the field, the shift will be used less and less. But for now, it's working. It's just solid, strategic baseball.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Sun May 15, 2016 2:47 pm
  • Zone defense dominates in college hoops, but is essentially banned in the NBA with the 2 seconds in the paint rule. Sometimes when a tactic is so good that it makes the game less fun to watch, a league has to bar the practice to keep fans from feeling bored or frustrated. Not sure if that will happen with the shift, but there is already a debate underway on the airwaves. It wouldn't shock me if rules are passed to mitigate it in the next few years.
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Re: Baseball question....the shift...
Mon May 16, 2016 1:44 pm
  • Tical21 wrote:I do want to dispel the notion that you can't have any power going the other way. If you're looking for a pitch to drive the other way, it can be done pretty easily. Timing and the propensity for to pull the ball are the biggest reasons it isn't done more regularly. You have more power pulling inside pitches, sure. But it isn't as drastic of a difference as is being stated here. Even if it were the case that guys hit mostly singles going the other way, if you burn teams by that enough times, they are going to stop shifting, regardless of how many fewer home runs they may be giving up.

    Really, I'm surprised you can shift on hitters as accomplished as Seager. As far as I can tell, they don't do it much to Cano or Cruz, with great reason. Seager though, as a guy that isn't going to hit more than 25 HR anyway, should see a shift, see an outside pitch, and freaking hammer it. He's a good enough hitter to do it.

    The shift should only be effective against those big pull hitters with bad batting averages that aren't good enough hitters to do anything different. The fact that it is proving effective against the masses is a huge statement against the level of hitters coming into the league.

    Hitters nowadays are akin to basketball players that are really strong going to the hole but can't shoot a lick, and are too full of themselves to think they need to learn to shoot to be effective. You pull the ball every time you come up, so the defense puts all their guys on that side of the field, and you're not going to do a thing about it? It's disappointing, to be honest.


    I'm not saying your wrong, just exploring the numbers. From a batting average point of view Seager's lifetime average is .262. Do you think he could beat the shift 3 out of 10 times? 4 out of 10 times? Greater than that? I think it's closer to 3 out of 10. Just slightly better than his regular swing. Is that going to make it worth it when it costs you some power numbers?
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