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Effects of the shift

Other Baseball Today, 12:14 AM
This was a discussion about the effects of defensive shifts in baseball, split from today's game thread. Feel free to join in below!...

GAME THREAD: Twins @ Angels, 4/16/21, 8:38 PM CDT

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Infield Defense: Then VS Now

Posted by Jamie Cameron , 27 January 2021 · 1,561 views

There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine regime in Minnesota has stamped the organization with its own unique culture and identity. Since their arrival in advance of the 2020 season, leadership has taken the holistic approach needed to bring an organization like the Twins up to speed, to become and remain a competitor.
Falvey and Levine have focused their systematic overhaul on a number of key areas - individual development plans for players, innovative and creative coaching hires, and building out an incredibly robust analytical department.

A maxim Falvey has used since his arrival in Minnesota is his desire to build a sustainable winner, an annually playoff bound team with enough organizational and prospect depth to remain a perennial challenger. In recent years, fans have seen this strategy play out through their approach to free agency, signing high floor, veteran adds on short term deals to accent the homegrown core, built upon by the gambit of signing Josh Donaldson last offseason. Another key trend of the front office has been taking advantage of market depth, something exemplified by their inking Andrelton Simmons to a 1 year, $10.5 million contract on Tuesday night.
To explore this, let’s examine the corner outfield situation in 2017, the year Falvey and Lavine arrived, to today. While Simmons and Donaldson would have been an all time left side of the infield 3-5 years ago, they still provide a telling contrast defensively between then and now.

In 2017, the Twins corner infield consisted of Miguel Sano and Eduardo Escobar at 3rd and Jorge Polanco and Ehire Adrianza at SS. This quarter combined in 2017 for an OAA -5 collectively. By contrast, in 2019, the last full season in which Donaldson and Simmons were relatively healthy, they combined for 25 OAA.
Looking at fielding range provides an even more stark contrast. In 2017, the Twins left side quarter combined for a UZR/150 of -26.2, while in 2019, Donaldson and Simmons combined for UZR/150 of 15.9. Clearly, these aren’t apples to apples comparisons, but the point remains, the 2021 Twins left side of the infield, if healthy, is elite, where it used to be a legitimate weakness.

The positive defensive outcomes Twins fans are hoping for will be dependent on many factors, not least of which, is the health (calves and ankles) of their infielders. What is interesting, is what the combination continues to prove about Falvey and Levine, that they will continue to prioritize organizational flexibility and market depth to improve the team. While this slow and late approach hasn’t always worked out for the team (see Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn), the Twins front office continues to build a case that they are adept and nimble in constructing and regenerating their roster, a recipe for sustained success.

  • Hosken Bombo Disco and Melissa like this

Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 27 2021 08:08 PM
I’m not as sold as you. I give the front office credit for bringing the quant team into the 20th Century, and they spend on good free agents, but they have lost and/or traded away too much talent, and they’re not winning postseason games. They are not the next Moneyball; but they don’t need to be, I guess.
    • Doctor Gast likes this