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April 8, 2014 6:00 am

What You Need to Know: The New Class of Shift Candidate

7

Daniel Rathman

The Yankees shift more often, plus the news from Monday and what to watch today.

The Monday Takeaway
As the Yankees’ beat writers have learned during the first week of the season, manager Joe Girardi is utilizing defensive shifts more liberally than he did last year.


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November 26, 2013 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Extrapolating the Breakdown of Traditional Defense

37

Sam Miller

Infield shifts are just the beginning.

One of the most interesting things about extreme infield shifts is how unextreme they are. They are like some lame grownup’s idea of extreme, a little bit of flash and inconvenience but ultimately very safe. The shift was invented by sane people. Real extreme comes from insanity, and it makes us deeply uncomfortable.

Everybody’s talking about the football coach who never punts​—4th and 15 at his own five-yard line, he’s going for it. That’s fearless. It’s hard to think of a baseball equivalent, one that would work or even one that might work. Russell Carleton this week explored the listener-suggested idea of having the left and right fielders swap, depending on batter handedness, to make sure the better defender gets more attempts to field the ball. The gory math supports the use of the relatively conservative proposal, but Carleton concludes what we can't help but conclude:

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July 18, 2012 5:00 am

Manufactured Runs: Getting Shifty Again

9

Colin Wyers

BIS addressed one problem with their defensive metric that was making Brett Lawrie look better than he is.

A while back, you may recall, I wrote an article about Brett Lawrie’s rating in one defensive metric, Baseball Info Solution’s Defensive Runs Saved. My conclusion:

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Is the shifty Brett Lawrie truly the amazing fielder that some defensive metrics claim he is?

Let’s play a game called “Which one of these is not like the others?”

Culled from Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and yours truly, defensive ratings for Brett Lawrie:

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The Rays have been willing to experiment with unorthodox defensive alignments, but are they ready to move an infielder to the outfield?

In 2010, Baseball Info Solutions began recording instances of defensive shifts. In the Fielding Bible III, they presented some data from the last couple of years: the Rays emerged as the team using special alignments most frequently, with a huge margin separating them from the clubs ranked just behind them.

While watching some of the action in the Rays’ Opening Day game against the Yankees, I came to the conclusion that BIS video scouts would have an easier time if they inverted their approach and marked down the instances when Tampa Bay does not play shifted.

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