The Shift Hits the Fans


I’ve been pushing for the Mets to shift their fielders since the end of last season, and now it appears the baseball mainstream has discovered the benefits of fielders standing in different places for different batters. Albert Chen covered the emerging trend of aggressive infield shifts in last week’s Sports Illustrated, and Hunter Atkins wrote about the Rays in this morning’s New York Times.

So that shifty cat is out of its bag. I’m going to guess that, in the next two or three years, every team will be shifting their infielders to some degree. And because every team will be shifting, the relative advantage of doing so will disappear. Baseball teams don’t cop strategies as quickly as, say, football teams do — remember how quickly the wildcat offense came and went, compared with the latency period for the appreciation of on-base percentage — but some baseball trends do stick and spread. It seems we’re witnessing the rise of aggressive shifts this baseball season. Just something to keep an eye on as the Mets play different teams this season.


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2 responses to “The Shift Hits the Fans

  1. FWIW, Tango and MGL tore apart the numbers in the NYT article today. Shifting makes a difference, but not nearly that much difference.

  2. I actually feel football is the same way. How many teams take advantage of the statistics that say punting is usually the wrong strategy?
    1 (the Patriots)?

    It seems to me that front office strategy adjusts more quickly than coach strategy.

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