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Articles Tagged The Shift 

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August 23, 2017 9:25 am

Rubbing Mud: The Mental Side of Shifting

0

Matthew Trueblood

From Ted Williams and Lou Boudreau to Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Moss, there's more to the shift than meets the eye.

Last week, Anthony Rizzo was the National League Player of the Week, batting .429 and driving in 13 runs. He hit two homers and had a fistful of clutch singles, many of them shot hard through the left side, even as teams persisted—and they will persist a while longer, until Rizzo really proves this is his permanent approach—in shifting or shading him toward the right side on the infield. It’s not why he won, but it’s dazzling to consider that he had that hot streak while handling the defensive responsibility of playing his 10th game at second base.

Obviously, that’s misleading. If you’ve paid much attention to the Cubs this year (or if you did so late last year, or if you just happen to play fantasy baseball), you know that the reason Rizzo has racked up brief appearances at second base is that he and the real second baseman switch spots in certain obvious sacrifice bunt situations. It involves Rizzo trading in his first baseman’s mitt (because the rules require as much), but it’s not a true position change. It’s just a defensive shift, with a little bit of extra pizzazz (or positional anarchy, if you will).

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Defensive positions need not be as they have always been.

The Angels and Twins played a four-game series over the weekend. It was a matchup of two teams with plenty in common—low preseason expectations, a good positional corps somewhat wasted by too-thin pitching, and yet surprising (if modest) early-season success. In one small and strange way, however, it was also a meeting of two teams at opposite ends of a philosophical spectrum.

With left-handed batters at the plate, the Angels’ second basemen play deeper (on average) than those of all but one other team (the Mariners). The Twins’ second basemen (we’re talking mostly about Brian Dozier here) play the shallowest against lefties.

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As The Shift spreads further and further across baseball, unexpected side effects have emerged to cloud the issue.

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More brave bunters fight the good fight against the defensive shift.

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May 21, 2014 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Marlins and the AT&T Shift

3

Sam Miller

Have the Marlins figured out how to beat the Giants at their own ballpark?

Buster Posey represented the tying run when he batted in the ninth inning against Miami on Friday night. He got a 1-1 slider in the middle of the plate and drove it into deep right-center, toward triples alley. As soon as the crowd could raise its voice, though, it went quiet: Giancarlo Stanton was standing right there.

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Ben and Sam banter about position player pitchers and Andrelton Simmons, then discuss batters' latest attempts to bunt to beat the shift.

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Bunts against the shift: up 100 percent since last season.

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September 16, 2013 10:12 am

Overthinking It: The Latest Attempts to Beat the Shift

5

Ben Lindbergh

Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, and others are doing their best to make defenders abandon the ever-more-popular over-shift.

A few minutes into the bottom of the first inning of Sunday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees, a Dustin Pedroia groundout and a Daniel Nava double brought up David Ortiz.

“He’s made a concerted effort to hit the ball the other way a lot more this season, that’s why the average is so high,” said ESPN’s Dan Shulman. Before he could finish the sentence, Ortiz grounded a single to left. “And there he goes,” Shulman said.

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