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November 25, 2013

Baseball Therapy

The Corner-Outfield Inefficiency

by Russell A. Carleton

On Friday’s episode of Effectively Wild, listener Matt Trueblood emailed the show to ask Ben and Sam a fascinating question. Why is it that teams do not have their left and right fielders switch places more often, particularly if one of them is a better fielder than the other? We know that some players like to pull the ball, while others like to hit to the opposite field. Why not put the better fielder in the place where it’s more likely that the ball will be hit? It’s a fascinating question because there is no rule that prohibits it from happening. In the era of the infield shift, why hasn’t anyone tried this?

Teams will often shift an outfielder from left to right (or the reverse) within a game if they make a defensive substitution, and no one minds. Sometimes players bounce back and forth and back again. Other than the fact that box score makers would hate it, why not within an inning as the batter changes?

Hey look, it’s the #GoryMath signal!

Warning! Gory Mathematical Details Ahead!
For the moment, we are going to make a couple of assumptions (which we will re-visit).

  1. The team has two players in left and right field. One is an excellent fielder. The other is out there because he can hit and because for some reason, there are some teams that refuse to use a DH. As Ben pointed out on the podcast, it’s rare for a team to have such a mismatch in defensive talent in the corners, but let’s just pretend that they do and see what it would be worth.
  2. Players perform just as well in left field as they do in right field when attempting to catch balls, and while I’m guessing that at first, pinging back and forth might be confusing, being able to switch is a skill that could be taught.
  3. We’re not going to worry about throwing arms for the moment.
  4. Brian McCann has been informed of this tactic and has pledged that he will not do anything to stop it.

My data set is all events from 2003-2012. I started with all fly balls, pop ups, and line drives that were fielded by either the left or right fielder and coded whether that was a product of a ball being hit to the batter’s pull field or the opposite field. Home runs were not included, since you can’t defend a home run (unless, perhaps, you’re Carlos Gomez).

Hitters were more likely to hit the ball to the opposite field (55-45) than to the pull field, and this held true for right-handed hitters (54.5 percent opposite field) and left-handed hitters (55.4 percent opposite field). Strangely, this turns out to be the most important finding in the study. Hold on to it.

There was a split of 58 percent fly balls and 42 percent line drives overall, but when hitters pulled the ball, they were more likely to hit a line drive (54-46) than a fly ball. On balls to the opposite field, there was a 68-32 split in favor of fly balls. Line drives are more likely to fall for hits than fly balls, so when hitters pull the ball, they’re more likely to hit something that’s going to do some damage. It’s tempting to think then that it’s better to put the better fielder in the pull field, because that’s where the rockets are going to be headed. It turns out that that’s wrong.

There’s an interesting fact to note about pulled balls vs. opposite field balls. Opposite field flies are easier to catch. Defenders caught 65.1 percent of opposite field balls, but only 44.2 percent of pulled balls. Some of that is due to the fact that more of those pulled balls are line drives. But the effect survives even after controlling for the type of batted ball. For fly balls, 80.1 percent of the pulled variety ended up in a fielder’s glove, while 85.4 percent of opposite field flies were caught. For line drives, 13.9 percent of pulled line drives ended up as outs, while 21.6 percent of opposite field line drives ended up in gloves. A pulled ball is more likely to end up falling in for a hit. So, why aren’t we putting the good fielder out there and the bad fielder in the opposite field? Read on.

Let’s see what happens to those balls. Not surprisingly, because pulled balls are more likely to be line drives, and therefore hits, they produced a bigger bang. I assigned run values to each event (single, double, triple, out) based on the linear weight values that we use here for such things. I found that the average pulled ball was worth .206 runs for the hitting team, while an opposite field ball was worth .022 runs. Offensive teams want hitters to pull the ball. So shouldn’t the team in the field try extra-hard to defend against pulled hits?

Well, no. The secret to why we don’t want to put the good fielder in the pull field is this. Let’s look at the value of the hits that happen when the fielder doesn’t catch the ball. We know that pulled balls are more likely to be line drives than fly balls. Surely enough, those pulled balls end up as a single 59 percent of the time and as an extra-base hit 40 percent of the time. (There were some cases where the batter got TOOTBLANed, if you’re wondering where the extra one percent is.) Opposite field balls went for singles 66 percent of the time and extra-base hits 33 percent of the time. Balls that were pulled and fell for hits had an average run value of about .584 runs. Balls that were hit to the opposite field went for .567 runs. It’s a little more important to prevent the types of balls that fall for hits in the pull field, but not by much. And since the value of the out is pretty much the same, changing a hit into an out in the pull field has essentially the same marginal effect as changing a hit into an out in the opposite field.

Now, let’s talk about our two fielders. One is better than the other and everyone knows it. In 2012, the best left fielder at catching fly balls (min. 100) hit near him (Alex Presley) did so at an 89 percent rate. The worst (J.D. Martinez) had an 80 percent success rate. In right field, top honors went to Jose Bautista (89 percent) and a participation trophy went to Michael Cuddyer (75 percent). Results for line drives had a similar spread, about 15 points in either direction. We’ll be conservative and say that our good fielder is five percentage points more likely to catch a ball in the air than is the bad fielder in both left and right field.

The value of changing one marginal ball from a hit to an out in the pull field is worth roughly the same as in the opposite field. Therefore, you simply put the better fielder where more balls will be hit: in the opposite field. Remember the finding I told you to hold on to? Yes, percentage-wise, more balls fall into the pull field, but they have the same value as do the ones in the opposite field. The point is not to have a balanced defense, and you won’t get one here. If 85 percent of fly balls in the air to the opposite field are caught now, compared to 80 in the pull field, it’s tempting to reflexively use our five-percentage-point upgrade to balance that out. But that’s the wrong way to think about the problem. The better strategy is to put your assets where they will have the most marginal impact.

What sort of effect might this have on a team? From 2003-2012, the left fielder handled 51.3 percent of outfield flies not hit to the center fielder. Our left fielder and right fielder are pretty good at sharing. There’s also evidence that both are decent at fielding. Right fielders caught 83.8 percent of the fly balls hit their way and 17.7 percent of the line drives, while left fielders caught 83.3 and 16.6 percent respectively. (The fact that that adds up to 99.9 percent is a coincidence.) Right fielders appear to be slightly better fielders, although they handle the slight minority of the traffic. That means that the lesser fielder is slightly more likely to have a ball headed his way than the better one. But for now, let’s call it even.

If we always had the better fielder in the opposite field, it would mean that 55 percent of the time, we would have a better fielder in position to catch the ball (compared to 50 percent now). We also assume that he would be five percent better than the other guy at catching balls, and that the value of turning a hit into an out is about 0.8 runs. So, for each fly ball to either left or right, the benefit of always making sure to station the better fielder in the batter’s opposite field is .002 runs. From 2003-2012, the average team had 1,114 such balls over the course of a season, meaning that this strategy would be worth about 2.25 runs over a season. If the fielders were 10 percentage points apart in their ability to catch fly balls, the strategy would be worth four and a half runs. We’re starting to get into “half a win” territory, simply by having the left and right fielder change places every once in a while. And it costs nothing.

Ah, But the Assumptions
Do players perform as well when playing left field as they do right field? Here we run into the problem that our fielding metrics for outfield play are woefully behind those of infielders in terms of their reliability. I once tested whether utility outfielders showed similar overall performance in two different outfield spots, but ran into those same reliability issues and had to settle for a non-significant correlation. We do know that within a game, there is no evidence that players suffer from shifting into a position or coming off the bench. I’d suggest that since there are so many players who do play both positions, that it’s certainly not impossible. Maybe constant switching is something that can be taught if if you start early enough.

We may also have a situation where the two outfielders involved vary in their arm strength. One might have a noodle, and the other a cannon. The only real instance where there’s a difference between throwing from left and right comes on a play at third. In 2012, the best guy at keeping a runner from going first to third on a single (or throwing him out) was Jeff Francouer (72 percent) while David DeJesus had a mere 46 percent success rate. That play happened an average of 84 times to each team in 2012, and the difference between first-and-second and first-and-third is worth .25 runs (with one out). If we assume that our two outfielders differ in their ability to hold or throw out the runner by 10 percentage points, and that the stronger arm will be in left some of the time, that’s suddenly worth about a run in lost value (although you might get some of it back when the single is to left field). So, switching the left and right fielders back and forth works best when both have comparable arms. If there is separation, it will mean that some of the value that you worked so hard to create will disappear.

One other issue that was brought up on the podcast was how far both fielders would have to run if they were constantly swapping places. It’s an interesting question. Take a look at this diagram, which will give us something with which to work. Let’s assume that the left fielder and right fielder are both standing about 300 feet from home plate and offset from the foul line by about 15 degrees, using a radial measurement. We can connect the two dots for the left and right fielder and both of those dots to home plate. Since the angle formed by the two lines radiating from home plate has a measurement of 60 degrees, and the lines are of equal length, we have an equilateral triangle. The left and right fielder will need to jog 300 feet or so each time they change spots. In 2012, the average team would have made eight of these switches in an average game, so our two corner outfielders would add an extra half-mile or so, spread out over three hours, to their workout that night. If they took the jog at a four-mph pace (not too hard), they could traverse 300 feet in about 50 seconds. That’s going to add to game time.

Under Ideal Circumstances…
And now we come to the real reason that teams probably don’t employ this tactic of switching the left and right fielders back and forth depending on the handedness of the batter. Given two players who were so different in their fielding prowess, the move could save a couple runs over the course of a season, although some of that might be given back depending on whether the two also differ in their arm strength. It’s not trivial value, mind you. Under what are some realistic circumstances, we might be looking at 3-4 runs, and it can be done with parts already on hand. There seem to be a few of those types of strategies out there. Maybe someday, someone will string them all together and earn an extra two wins or so.

In addition, my shifting was based entirely on the batter’s handedness. An enterprising team could do better calculations around individualized spray charts and could tailor their strategy to how that night’s starting pitcher might pitch to each hitter. Maybe they wouldn’t want to betray any of that information, except for the fact that “Our scouting report tells us that you are left-handed.”

But there’s another force at work here. In United States culture, it’s not nice to look like you’re trying too hard, especially for such a small reward and when you look weird doing it. As the infield shift has become more and more popular, I find it interesting to hear some of the reactions from teams that don’t shift. Usually, they have moralistic underpinnings. We’re gentlemen here. We don’t shift. We could, but that’s for the riff-raff to do. Brian McCann would totally shoot this down. Still, they’re leaving runs on the table. I have to wonder at what price come pride and tradition.

So, should the left fielder and right fielder changes places as the batter changes hands? Yes. They should, under ideal circumstances. The payoff would be a couple of runs per year and this would not solve all the world’s problems, but it would make teams a little better. And probably get them laughed at a little.

Russell A. Carleton is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Russell's other articles. You can contact Russell by clicking here

Related Content:  Defense,  Sabermetrics,  Outfield,  Shifting,  Fielding,  Ineffiencies

38 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Matthew Trueblood

Russell, thanks for digging into this, deeper and better than I could. I'm glad I'm not crazy; maybe just slightly obsessive. A lot of the little questions that made up the larger inquiry get answered here.

Do you think there would also be a structural/flexibility advantage to thei strategy? I imagine that, if a team did decide to do this, they might be slightly more willing to add that corner OF bat that comes with a lousy glove. I'm sure a certain level of imbalance would destroy the advantage, but some imbalance would be better under those circumstances. Right now, I sense that most teams treat the spots as having all but identical defensive requirements, other than the caveat about right-field arms.

Sam mentioned, during the discussion on the podcast, having a sort of super fielder, an Andrelton Simmons-type defensive demigod whose job is to drift around the diamond to whatever spot is most likely to see the next action. Surely a team that tried that (doubtful, but it'd be neat) would be better able to field an excellent offense, because they could hide that extra troglodytic power hitter on the diamond. Maybe this strategy would allow a bit more of that too?

Nov 25, 2013 05:59 AM
rating: 3
 
delatopia

I wouldn't show up my poor fielding outfielder for a mere half dozen runs, or half a win, a season.

Nov 25, 2013 06:49 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

I understand this sentiment fully, and there's probably something to be said for it. I would happily listen to an argument that says that showing him up is bad for the clubhouse and that's going to have a far greater effect than the handful of runs that this would save.

A question in reply though, meant only as a test of the limits: At what point would you?

Nov 25, 2013 07:00 AM
 
delatopia

"A question in reply though, meant only as a test of the limits: At what point would you?"

If I knew it could be worth two wins/20 runs, I would consider it at that point.

Nov 25, 2013 22:30 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

I know we're not really supposed to use the 1 win = $5 million these days, but if it's anywhere approaching correct, that's a lot to give up to avoid hurting someone's feelings. A free 2 win upgrade is massive for most teams.

Nov 26, 2013 03:33 AM
rating: 2
 
navarred

I'd be concerned that asking Manny Ramirez to run an extra 600 yards might make him too tired to bother chasing the ball after it bounced off his head.

Nov 25, 2013 07:53 AM
rating: 14
 
alangreene

I admit I didn't get all the way through the article, but one other possible issue is that reading the ball off the bat could be affected as the angle of the fielder's vision would be changing.

You hear players comment a lot on this. I've haven't seen statistical backup, but it makes a lot of sense. Instinctual reaction is based on repetition -- does moving your outfielders make them worse for a while?

Nov 25, 2013 07:21 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

I would agree that you would have to account for this, but I'd also argue that there are plenty of players who play both spots on a semi-regular basis. If a player knew he was going to do this, he could prepare for it better. I don't know whether that prep time would actually work. However, in one of the articles that I linked from earlier this year, I found that when a player does switch positions in the middle of the game, he performs at the same level that we would normally expect of him at that position. It even worked when I looked only at the first inning of the switch.

Nov 25, 2013 07:34 AM
 
navarred

I'd agree that there is an extra challenge. With players who play both positions, I don't think it would be statistically significant.

Personally, I am terrible in left, but used to the crazy balls hit into right. Of course, I'd be the guy you'd be trying to hide out there anyway....

Nov 25, 2013 07:57 AM
rating: 1
 
Bryan Cole

Don't forget, by the way, that there are some parks -- especially Fenway -- where the difference between playing LF and RF is more than just "reading the ball differently". At Fenway (which is admittedly a worst case for this), you have all the weird angles off the scoreboard, and a big difference between the amount of ground required to cover in both cases. Also, there's a ladder in the field of play.

Nov 26, 2013 07:01 AM
rating: 1
 
Luke in MN

Don't teams nullify the need to do this by simply keeping the outfielders at the same positions, but shifting where they play? I mean, if you need to cover right field better, you just shift everyone over a bit. If your guy in right is a statue, you probably are already shifting your fast guys in center and left over towards him a bit, and if right field is a particularly likely place for the ball to land, you would just shift a little bit more. (just like the way infields usually shift)

Nov 25, 2013 08:49 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

That sort of tactic is probably already baked into the comparison data.

Nov 25, 2013 10:21 AM
 
dbiester

As interesting as this may be in stat world, the idea of watching this happen while in attendance at a baseball game is not attractive. Watching the grass grow? No, watching theRays shift their outfield based on pitch count. I suspect it would quickly lead to a rule change barring it. PLus you'd have to run a new metric based on the reduced range for extra running being done back and forth by fat OFs in day games in July.

Nov 25, 2013 09:31 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

I fully understand that this would be boring to watch (you're probably talking about a few extra minutes onto the game of just guys getting into position), but it would have a small effect on helping a team to win more games. Is the job of a team to be entertaining or to win?

Also, what would be the rule change? You'd pretty much have to say that teams could not make mid-inning defensive positioning changes with two players not in the game, and that if you are the stated left fielder, you actually have to be to the left of the center fielder.

That would effectively outlaw the Lawrie Shift as well where the third baseman is the third infielder on the right side of the infield, and the much-rangier shortstop holds down the fort on the left side. It probably also deletes the ever-popular "5th infielder" tactic that you'll see used at the end of games with a runner on third, less than 2 out, and the game tied.

Nov 25, 2013 10:14 AM
 
Matthew Trueblood

Not sure what games some people are watching. It's usually at least 30 seconds between batters, as the next guy digs in, steps out, adjusts his batting gloves and digs in again. Unless and until THAT gets outlawed, I fail to see why this would be considered a unique or actionable nuisance.

Nov 25, 2013 10:51 AM
rating: 7
 
R.A.Wagman

The job of a team is to be entertaining. If the sport of baseball becomes too boring for the non-hardcore fan, attendance will sag TV ratings will drop and baseball will become lawn bowling. Teams have to entertain, even when not winning.

Nov 25, 2013 16:47 PM
rating: 3
 
dbiester

It is interesting to know that this might make a difference. I just don't think it is a good idea.

It is the job of Major League Baseball to be entertaining, and anything that adds to the already too long running time makes it less so. I know full well that the major delay in baseball games is for TV commercials.

The difference between IF and OF shifts is of course the distance the player has to travel to accomplish the shift. As the maximum utility of the shift involves making the slowest corner outfielder cross the whole OF as opposed to an infielder moving less than 40 feet, it is obviously different, not that I have timed anyone doing it (also certain injury prone OFs should be encouraged never to move, but I digress) The simple rule change is to identify LF, CF, and RF by position and not allow the RF or LF to cross the distance mark in dead center field unless the ball is in play. It would not at all stop an OF from playing behind 2B, or the 3B from going wherever.

Nov 26, 2013 08:15 AM
rating: 1
 
Schere

Another assumption, which is hard to quantify I think, is that it's equally easy to turn hits into outs in the pull field and the opposite field. I suspect that it's harder in the pull field, and that might be another increment in favor of this strategy.

Nov 25, 2013 10:27 AM
rating: 2
 
jdeich

As far as the time delay, you could try to find tape of the May 14th, 1988 game between the Braves and Cardinals (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198805140.shtml).

Jose DeLeon was a starter on an off day who got pressed into corner outfield work in a 19-inning game. They swapped corner outfielders to try to 'hide' him, and his position in the box score is recorded as "LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF".

Nov 25, 2013 10:55 AM
rating: 10
 
Matthew Trueblood

I love this. Wonder if they were putting him in the pull or off fields. Not even too concerned with how it relates to this; that's just a neat thing to know happened.

Nov 25, 2013 12:33 PM
rating: 0
 
Bryan Cole

The play-by-play makes me believe it was the off fields. Worth pointing out, though, that the winning runs were scored on a double to DeLeon in left.

Even more fun: Andrew Koo pointed out this gem, where Cecil Fielder shuttled between 2B and 3B nineteen times. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SEA/SEA198805020.shtml

Nov 26, 2013 06:53 AM
rating: 5
 
rrvwmr

Bruno threw Griffey out at the plate in the 16th right after DeLeon was inserted. I think they each got two balls hit to them.

Nov 25, 2013 13:16 PM
rating: 0
 
gjhardy

"If a player knew he was going to do this, he could prepare for it better."

This might be a chicken-and-egg argument here, but if players are going to be required to put in more time to "prepare for it better," wouldn't it make better sense for the player to just spend more time practicing in his "regular" position and getting better there, thereby mooting the whole point of the shift?

If "our good fielder is five percentage points more likely to catch a ball in the air than is the bad fielder in both left and right field," wouldn't an improvement of 2 or 3 percentage points by the bad fielder essentially balance the whole thing out? If anyone is going to have to make any effort to make this strategy worthwhile, I just wonder if the effort should be put into making each fielder better at his respective position.

Nov 25, 2013 11:18 AM
rating: 2
 
Matthew Trueblood

That's not an invalid thought process, but extra practice doesn't effect a very big difference in skill for most guys. If it did, every team would drill all of its crummy defensive players until they dropped, to make them better.

It's actually a lot easier to do this, and if you were to simply admit and embrace the imbalance there, you could also add a guy who could really hit, as that worse corner guy. Sometimes a whole roster of very balanced, well-rounded players is both difficult and inefficient to assemble.

Nov 25, 2013 12:31 PM
rating: 0
 
MGL

I don't think this is workable, for a lot of the reasons articulated above. The two principal forces working against this (other than the aesthetic ones, which are not insignificant, IMO) are:

1) I need A LOT more (as in any) evidence that having the better fielder in the opposite field is advantageous (and to the extent that Russell estimates) simply because there are more balls hit there. We really have no idea how fielders of various talent levels fare as a function of the size of the field, and the speed, location, trajectory, and spin of the batted ball.

2) Assuming that there IS an advantage, I would think that there HAS to be SOME disadvantage to constantly switching. When you playing 9 straight innings at one position you become more and more familiar with the wind patterns and even the outfield quirks in visiting parks, even if you have played there lots of times before. Regardless of how much you train for this, I just can't see it NOT being a fairly significant disadvantage. Not to mention, seriously, the effect of jogging back and forth during hot days and nights.

So, no, I don't see this as being workable until and unless lots more research and experimenting is done.

Nov 25, 2013 21:24 PM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Doug Thorburn
BP staff

MGL,

With all due respect, couldn't one use the exact same logic as your point 1) for the purpose of doubting the applications of TTOP theory? Just replace a few words here or there with "pitch/pitcher" --> "we really have no idea how (pitchers) of various talent levels fare as a function of the size of the (pitcher), and the speed, location, trajectory, and spin of the (pitched) ball."

I get the general implication of TTOP, and it seems to me that it tells us more about batter's behavior than it does pitcher's, but the biggest issue IMO is taking the lessons of the aggregate and applying it as a blanket for individuals. Not every pitcher takes the same approach each time through the order - some follow convention, with majority fastballs the first time through and mixing in secondaries on the second trip - and some do not. Some gain velocity as the pitch count rises, while others distinctly lose it (and some flatline). And one can imagine how altering velocity compared to a first-trip-through-order baseline would have differential impact on batter success (including batted balls, vis-a-vis weak contact).

Teams are aware of these elements, therefore managers are aware, and thanks to data available via PITCHf/x, the baseball public can become more aware. It seems to me that stats based on a box score are inherently limiting, and while I agree with the impetus to recognize those limitations, it is only logically consistent to express such doubts within the confines of all statistical research that fails to incorporate certain dependent variables.

I found Russell's research to be intriguing, and he laid forth the limitations of said research. We will not have answers to the questions posed in 1) until there is public access to HITf/x data, but in the meantime, I felt that this was a well-thought and worthwhile exercise.

Nov 26, 2013 01:02 AM
 
OonBoon

Along these lines, my fantasy vision, what if instead of a first baseman, a team used a tandem LHP and RHP? That is, either the lefty on the mound and the righty at first or vice versa to achieve a platoon advantage over the batter at all times?

It would make an interesting study, hint, hint.

Nov 25, 2013 22:08 PM
rating: 0
 
delatopia

Doesn't something have to exist to be studied? Or do you mean speculation?

Nov 25, 2013 22:32 PM
rating: -2
 
Bryan Cole

It's also specifically legislated against. From the official rules...(http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/game_preliminaries_3.jsp)

"Rule 3.03 Comment: A pitcher may change to another position only once during the same inning; e.g. the pitcher will not be allowed to assume a position other than a pitcher more than once in the same inning. Any player other than a pitcher substituted for an injured player shall be allowed five warm-up throws. (See Rule 8.03 for pitchers.)"

For those of you wondering how MLB would restrict positional swapping, I imagine it'd look something like this, maybe with specific delineations of the fielder positions.

Nov 26, 2013 06:55 AM
rating: 7
 
Matthew Trueblood

That's fascinating. Can't imagine many people knew this rule existed. Good input!

Nov 26, 2013 11:33 AM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

All right, so that's once per inning. I could work with that. That's still an extra platoon advantage or two every inning, depending on lineup structure

Nov 26, 2013 23:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Tommy Fastball

Swapping ourfielders HAS been done. I remember an extra innings game in the 80's where Rusty Staub was forced to play OF and he was moved RF-LF-RF based upon the batter's handedness. Sorry details aren't clearer in my head.

Nov 25, 2013 22:52 PM
rating: 0
 
delatopia

While I vaguely remember a big deal being made out of that game, this is the only one I can find where Staub played both corners in the same game, according to his season gamelogs. 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1985 were the 1980s seasons where he played both LF and RF in the same season. However, this game shows only one defensive move on his part.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN198504280.shtml

But now that I see the Retrosheet listing for this game, here:

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1985/B04280NYN1985.htm

it says in bold type in the 12th inning:

"Rusty Staub and Clint Hurdle alternated between LF and RF depending on batter handedness; it is not clear if they did it for every batter, so the change will only be listed once here, but it apparently happened several times ... "

Shame it isn't more specific.

Nov 25, 2013 23:05 PM
rating: 3
 
delatopia

There are some amusing, curious and revealing memories of that game here:

http://www.ultimatemets.com/gamedetail.php?gameno=3702&tabno=B

Nov 25, 2013 23:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Dodger300

At a critical juncture, I am going to send up my right-handed batter and watch your outfielders run 300 feet.

Then I am going to pinch-hit with my lefty and watch them run it again.

I'll even send in opposite-side idle starting pitchers, and then replace them before they see a pitch, if you are committed enough to your plan to take the bait.

And following the September roster expansion, I'll be able to pinch-hit so many times that it will look like your running the relays in the outfield.

Nov 26, 2013 01:28 AM
rating: 3
 
dbiester

also have to tell the OF not to bother when a switch hitter is up...

Nov 26, 2013 08:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Matthew Trueblood

Oookaayy. You show me the team that can send up more than maybe one or two viable big-league hitters as pinch-hitters, pre- or post-roster expansion, and we can talk about that. Teams don't have enough competent hitters on their roster to actually do that, and when they do, managers are some mixture of too cowardly and too dim-witted to use them.

And obviously, you wouldn't use this against pitchers. It doesn't matter where the outfield plays against pitchers. If a pitcher hits a ball to the outfield, they win high fives when they get back to the dugout. I get that you're doing reductio ad absurdum, but it's not very artfully executed.

Nov 26, 2013 11:39 AM
rating: 1
 
Dodger300

Easy, peasy...

Please assume that the first hitter which causes the outfielders to swap positions is already in the regular lineup.

So I only need to pinch hit once with an opposite side hitter to have made them run again, and they will have had to cover the length of two football fields before the first pitch is thrown.

Nov 29, 2013 05:44 AM
rating: 0
 
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