Late in last night’s Mets / Cardinals game the Cardinals had three consecutive singles (the first two for RBIs that put the game away) by right-handed hitters against the shift. On the first two the Mets had completely vacated the right side of the infield, and Goldschmidt and Arenado said thanks. On the third the shift was less severe but still in play. Gary Cohen made the emphatic if unsurprising assertion that this sort of counterprogramming was what would ultimately spell the moderation of the shift.
Rewatching last night’s Astros game today I just got to the part where Meyers grounded hard into the shift with runners on second and third and no one out–the right side of the infield utterly abandoned and two runs there for the taking. I don’t mean to be prematurely doomy and gloomy, but it does seem like this sort of thing could be an achilles heel for this team if they make it to the playoffs. As rapidly and comprehensively as the Astros adopted and indeed pioneered new baseball, they don’t seem to have quite the knack yet for exploiting its weaknesses.
Being 3rd in opposite field hits doesn’t mean a ton without the data around. If he’s 3rd but hit’s the ball the other way 1/3 of the time, you’d still want to shift him for the other 2/3, right?
I did a quick once over on the stats, and I’m no stats wizard, but it looks to me like this season is the first time he’s really started going the other way regularly. Maybe they don’t have enough data to skew the numbers yet?
I couldn’t agree more. Yes, hitting a baseball is hard, but you are a professional. With constant practice, you should be able to develop an ability to hit the ball where it’s pitched. Three true outcome guys like Joey Gallo absolutely disgust me.
My problem with the shift, as has been discussed, is being a slave to it. Certainly there are times when it makes sense, but other times it does not. I know it’s easy to curse it when a would-be double play ball bounces through, but forget about a ball up the middle that finds Correa right behind the 2B bag for the play. I know I’m guilty of that. But baseball is such a situational game, and I think there are too many times when the Astros are situationally indifferent with it. What inning is it? What is the score? Who is the hitter…who is the pitcher and what are his best pitches, how does he normally get guys out…who’s on deck…who’s ready in the pen… I many ways it’s like bunting. You will hear many talking heads say a bunt is never, ever indicated because statistically you will score more runs not giving up that out. But what is the situation? If it’s a tie game with nobody out, in the bottom of the 9th, runners at 1B and 2B, Martin Maldonado at the plate…you better be fucking bunting. Situations. Too much of that type of consideration is lost in today’s metrics-driven thinking, IMO.
True. Nothing will change unless front offices demand it changes. I’m sure all Joey Gallo and his representatives see is that he has an OPS above .800. They could care less that he is doing it while hitting below the Mendoza Line (.199).
Yeah, it’s as if we morphed back into the chicks dig the home run era all over again. It’s why people want to ban the shift and the art of manufacturing runs is a lost one. More than likely, the National League style of baseball will also be dead starting next season.