How have the Rays outfielder's opponents shifted against him with the bunt in mind?
At the end of May, I introduced the idea that some teams were going from playing nearly straightaway to using a full overshift once the count went to two strikes against certain pull-heavy lefties whom they deemed threats to bunt. The idea was that teams would probably prefer to implement a full overshift earlier in the count, but were hindered by the hitter’s ability to bunt for a base hit. This was inspired by the Orioles using a two-strike overshift numerous times against Michael Bourn, and the Pirates doing it a couple of times against both Denard Span and Danny Espinosa.
This week's bunts, a chat with Chip Hale, and a new trend in defensive shifts. Plus: Ted Williams.
Last month I started a season-long series (continued here, here, here, here, and here) devoted to tracking bunts for base hits with the infield shift in effect; this is the seventh installment. To bring you up to speed on the series’ premise and methodology will take but two brief excerpts. Excerpt one:
The latest exciting developments in the back-and-forth battle between batters/bunters and defenders.
Last month I started a season-long series (continued here and here) devoted to tracking bunts for base hits with the infield shift in effect; this is the third installment. To bring you up to speed on the series’ premise and methodology will take but two brief excerpts. Excerpt one:
Earlier this month I started a season-long series devoted to tracking bunts for base hits with the infield shift in effect; this is the third installment. To bring you up to speed on the series’ premise and methodology will take but two brief excerpts. Excerpt one:
Some bunts are followed by big innings, believe it or not.
When nerds (your humble narrator included!) argue about bunting, they often rely on a metaphor that's barely a metaphor but is really a way of comparing baseball to other sports. In basketball and football and hockey and rugby and lacrosse and sometimes ultimate frisbee, there is a clock, an explicit timekeeping device used to mark the end of the match (or segment of the match) and how near it draws. If the score on the pitch is 13 to 2 and the hard time cap of 40 minutes is just 90 seconds away, well, it's physically impossible to score that many points in that little time, even for Reggie Miller. Baseball, by contrast, has no clock, only outs. If you have fewer runs than the other team once you use up your 27 outs, you lose. Outs are thus analogized to time, with the idea being that intentionally taking precious units off the clock is not a winning gambit.
The metaphor alludes to the infinitude of baseball, the idea that there's nothing in the rules preventing a game from happening to the end of time in a different way than in timed sports. In basketball, a game could have infinite overtimes, but there's something about the clock starting over every five minutes that feels distinct from the infinite baseball game—I think it's the visual image of an endlessly tied basketball game, where the clock loops back to five minutes again at the completion of each overtime, that makes it feel finite, just a circle that we can hold in our hands and our minds, not a line (score) extending out past our contemplation the way a baseball game does.
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