Shift or Get Off the Pot

February 15, 2015

Every team in baseball is shifting way more often than they did as few as three years ago. And it is paying off. But there are 10 teams (a third of the league) who shifted less than 260 times each for the season. Collectively they saved 27 runs (less than three runs per team). The other two thirds of the teams more than doubled their effectiveness, averaging over eight Shift Runs Saved per team.

Shift Runs Saved, 2014
Grouping Shifts per Team Shift Runs Saved per Team
Top 20 Shifting Teams 561 8.4
Bottom 10 Shifting Teams 208 2.7


I would give these 10 teams the same advice we gave in The Fielding Bible—Volume III after the 2012 season:

"If I were running a Major League Team, I would employ The Shift far more often…", or as the title of this article says, "Shift or Get Off The Pot."

When BIS developed its BIS-D defensive positioning software in 2006, very little interest was shown by major league teams. Now in 2015, more than half the teams in MLB subscribe to at least one of the many defensive-oriented products provided by Baseball Info Solutions.


Shift or Get Off the Pot and more of our latest shift research, Expected Stolen Base Success rates, Strike Zone Plus/Minus, and much more will be available in The Fielding Bible—Volume IV, which will be released on March 1, 2015 and is available for pre-order now.


COMMENTS (5 Comments, most recent shown first)

No answer about whether it takes account of the loss in GIDP's???????????
6:26 PM Feb 18th
Brock Hanke
I've hit against the shift, but at a totally amateur level. What it did to me was strip me of most of my power. I could collect endless singles through the shortstop hole (I'm a lefty), so my BABIP was fine, but it was all singles. It might be worth looking at the actual MLB hitters, comparing how they do for power normally against how they do when the shift is on.
4:50 AM Feb 16th
Adding to the post below: What about how the shift affects the chance to get double plays? Is the (presumed) loss in GIDP's taken into account?

(Why I presume a loss in GIDP's.....BTW I didn't think of this myself; I read it somewhere on this site lately, don't remember where or who said it, and I wish I did so I could give credit:
As the other member said, the infielders are in way-suboptimal position for a GIDP. I would add that to the extent that they're still where it's possible to try for a DP, at least one of the players is in an accustomed position and/or role for it.)
11:17 PM Feb 15th
Depends on how "runs saved" is calculated, which isn't explained. Is it similar to runs created, that is, an amalgamation of the results of hitting against a shift regardless of the sitaution, or is it cases in which runs are actually driven in (or not)? The former should be more or less in line with BABIP; the latter would be situational -- that is, hitting into a shift with men on base might produce more runs but lower BABIP, as the hitter is less successful but drives in more runs when he does succeed. So which is it?
5:00 PM Feb 15th
I vaguely recall reading somewhere that in 2014 BABIP was actually slightly higher against the shift. If true, where do those Runs Saved come from?
2:40 PM Feb 15th
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