The Phillies Shift

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate today and the Phillies stepped to the right side of the infield.

They employed a defensive shift against Freeman, which has been a rarity for the Phillies in the past. According to Baseball Info Solutions, the Phillies shifted just 45 times last season, which ranked 29th in baseball. More and more teams recognize the value of a defensive shift, which is why Ryne Sandberg said the Phillies will shift more in 2014.

“We’re going to play with it a little bit,” he said after today’s 2-2 tie with the Braves at Bright House Field. “Once we get our charts and everything, make a decision; sometimes it may be dependent on the game.”

Sandberg said the Phillies discussed using the shift more during the offseason. The Phillies will use video and spray charts on hitters, which show where they hit the ball against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. They also have charts on their own pitchers, which will tell them where hitters seem to hit the ball when they are on the mound.

“The option will also be provided to the starting pitcher, that type of a situation, according to how they’re going to pitch,” Sandberg said. “So it will be coordinated. … We’ll be smart with it and do what makes sense. It’s something that’s grown and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that’s something to think about and apply.”

7 Comments

Go Ryno! It’s going to tick off Ruben and Monty since it’s not what teams were doing in 1980, but go with it!

So would it be too much to ask if the shift worked?

Who is positioning the outfield? Seems like they have been cold trailing balls hit to the outfield than catching balls.

I thought for once I agreed with one of these headlines… but I read
wrong.

And Freddie Freeman deposited a single to left field. (Was RH watching?)

Assuming Freeman is a strong pull hitter, the shift in all likelihood “worked,” even if he put the ball in left field for a single. Check out this 2011 piece on the shift used against Howard: http://www.philsbaseball.com/Articles/2011/August/ryan_howard_shift.php

Key quote: “With no shift, Howard’s average is 147 points higher, his OBS is 108 points higher, his slugging is 134 points higher, and his OPS is 242 points higher. Unbelievable.”

Managers use the shift against players that it works against. The player may get a hit anyway, but in all likelihood it will produce results–of course, against Howard it _really_ seems to work. But it worked against Ted Williams as well. It works in the aggregate, even if it doesn’t result in an out every at-bat.

My concern is that Ruben will see that Freeman hit a single and tell Sandberg not to employ it anymore. Sigh.

Amaro should not tell anybody what to do. He needs to be told what to do for the good of the team and the sanity of the fans!!

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