Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
The same great Twins Daily coverage, now for the Vikings.

The Store

Recent Blogs


Photo

Article: The Twins Considering a Shift in Strategy

  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#1 Parker Hageman

Parker Hageman

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 1,363 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 11:50 AM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...ift-in-Strategy

#2 Linus

Linus

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 273 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:20 PM

OK, color me skeptical. I'm sure it works in certain circumstances but not in others. Another factor not discussed is that pitchers have to be able to pitch to the proper spot in relation to the shift - the old pitch them away, play them away, etc. If you don't hit your spots, the shift just puts people out of position. Baseball has been played for a very long time and while we have greater raw data now, its really the professional sport that has changed the least over time.

The current obsession with strikeouts is another example. I think we all agree that it is very handy to have a pitcher with the ability to strike someone out with a man on third and one out. I'm pretty sure Connie Mack, et al were smart enough to figure this out as well. There are many parts to the success equation, whether it is pitching or defense.

#3 Old Twins Cap

Old Twins Cap

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 129 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:00 PM

I clicked on this article to see if the Twins indeed had embarked on a new "strategy", which they haven't. Sounds like they are considering a new tactic, on defense, against certain hitters.

A strategy would involve something more substantive, like paying significant money to FA pitchers, or rebuilding using the draft and not trading any of their blue-chip minor leaguers, or relying more on power hitters vs speed and being willing to lead the majors in SOs.

My problem with their "strategy" is that they don't seem to have settled on one. Not speed, not power, not pitching and defense, and certainly not trying to score more runs.

So, moving their infield around on guys like Prince Fielder, if that is indeed their new strategy, well Heaven help us. It will be another long season. I'd love to have a photo of their infield shift for Prince and when he jacks it, capturing all three heads turning to watch the moon shot at the same time. Great example of how that strategy can fail by dint of not being substantive enough.

#4 Brock Beauchamp

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 8,790 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:00 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]“The game has changed so much; we’re seeing more overshifts and people not afraid to give up space based on tendencies, so it’s something I’m excited about learning about and applying to the way we play defense,” Molitor told Bollinger this week.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]
And this is why I want to see Paul Molitor become the next Twins manager. He is one of the few players who got better well into his 30s, indicating that he's open to new ideas and adapting to the environment. He just exudes baseball smarts and this comment just reinforces that opinion.[/COLOR]

#5 ashburyjohn

ashburyjohn

    Twins Daily Moderator

  • Twins Mods
  • 4,755 posts
  • LocationLake Tahoe, Nevada

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:08 PM

Getting better, or at least tackling a new challenge, at age 57 is what he would have to do as a manager, since he's pretty old for getting a first job in the big chair.

#6 Willihammer

Willihammer

    ice cream correspondent

  • Members
  • 2,983 posts
  • LocationSaint Paul

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:16 PM

OK, color me skeptical. I'm sure it works in certain circumstances but not in others. Another factor not discussed is that pitchers have to be able to pitch to the proper spot in relation to the shift - the old pitch them away, play them away, etc. If you don't hit your spots, the shift just puts people out of position. Baseball has been played for a very long time and while we have greater raw data now, its really the professional sport that has changed the least over time.


Left-right pitch location isn't a huge a factor. The physics involved are a little counterintuitive, but in general balls on the ground will go to the middle-pull direction, and balls in the air will go middle-away, regardless of the left-right location of the pitch. Every shift I've seen an exaggeration of this tendency, and not the reverse.

The positioning penalty might come when a fielder has to turn a double play or field a c utoff throw (the things James brought up). I have no idea how often that is a factor but I suspect they are overwhelmed by the added putouts and plays made.

#7 nicksaviking

nicksaviking

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3,705 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:45 PM

I really didn't think Ryan and company had it in them to adapt to a new age of baseball and I over-emphasized that point many times. I'm glad to see I'm wrong. Even if defensive shifts don't work, there certainly isn't any evidence that they hurt, so why not give it a shot.

I like the part about the pitchers not being sure about the shift. No kidding, they don't like seeing holes behind them. This quote by Jim Johnson tells me either the Orioles don't know what they're doing or Johnson just doesn't understand:

"If you’re shifting on a number 8 hitter, just because [the numbers] say he grounds out to the right side, and you’ve got a guy throwing 99mph that he’s probably not going to turn around, then why are you shifting?”

A truely analytical teams don't just shift players to the left or right simply by which side of the plate the batter stands. I doubt a manager would shift much in this kind of situation.

#8 Hosken Bombo Disco

Hosken Bombo Disco

    jamshots, blue darters, and humpback singles

  • Members
  • 1,215 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:47 PM

Big difference between shading and shifting. Here's a shift from last years playoffs:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/58922774/v31072427/al-wc-loney-gets-swisher-cuts-off-runner-at-home/?query=2013%2Bwild%2Bcard%2Btampa


On a shift play like this, the pitcher would break to cover third on a ground ball and not to first. And this is just one situation of any number of them. Much of it is baseball sense and I have my doubts that Plouffe or any given pitcher in a given situation could be trained to consistently pull off good shift plays.

#9 TheLeviathan

TheLeviathan

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 5,054 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 03:09 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]
And this is why I want to see Paul Molitor become the next Twins manager. He is one of the few players who got better well into his 30s, indicating that he's open to new ideas and adapting to the environment. He just exudes baseball smarts and this comment just reinforces that opinion.[/COLOR]


I'm glad I read the comments first because I was about to post the same thing. I'm heavily in the camp for Molly as our future manager.

#10 Brock Beauchamp

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 8,790 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 03:13 PM

I'm glad I read the comments first because I was about to post the same thing. I'm heavily in the camp for Molly as our future manager.


There is a lot to be said for a guy who is in his late 50s who has been in professional baseball for 40 years and is still open to learning new things and trying new ideas.

Not all new ideas are good ones but they must be explored to test their legitimacy. I have no patience for people who believe in doing things "because that's the way they've always been done". It shows a lack of critical thinking and complacency and frankly, a lack of intelligence.

#11 old nurse

old nurse

    Member

  • Members
  • 1,721 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:25 PM

Parker;'s article has the table listing the major league average percentage of outs on ground balls is 77.3%. The Orioles and Pirates, two teams listed as frequent over shifters had less than average outs on ground balls. Would the data indicate they are poor fielders and the shifting compensates for that? Just asking.

The Bill James article from last season stated that there were about 100 players that the shift was likely to be effective for. Shifting can be an important tool, but 100 players makes it a limited option.

Edited by old nurse, 15 January 2014 - 04:31 PM.


#12 Dantes929

Dantes929

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 319 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:27 PM

I understand it is intuitive that if you shift your infielders you would want to pitch them according to that shift but really, since the shift is based on the batters tendencies of how you normally pitch him, pitching him differently will create a whole new history of tendencies. For example, you don't want to pitch a left handed pull power hitter inside just cuz your fielders are there. Likely, his tendency to hit ground balls to the right side were a result of pitching him outside off speed pitches. I know its easier said than done but the pitcher should not be adjusting his approach just because the fielders change their approach.

#13 oldguy10

oldguy10

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 306 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:28 PM

I've been skeptical on "Molly" as the manager in 2015 and going forward but reading all of the positives about him willing to adapt I now think that is the way for the franchise to go. And boot Gardy up to V.P. also.

#14 Parker Hageman

Parker Hageman

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 1,363 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:41 PM

[COLOR=#333333]I clicked on this article to see if the Twins indeed had embarked on a new "strategy", which they haven't. Sounds like they are considering a new tactic, on defense, against certain hitters.
[/COLOR]
[COLOR=#3E3E3E]A strategy would involve something more substantive, like paying significant money to FA pitchers, or rebuilding using the draft and not trading any of their blue-chip minor leaguers, or relying more on power hitters vs speed and being willing to lead the majors in SOs. [/COLOR]


First: Stop it.

Second: Point taken.

Last: Seriously, though, stop it.

#15 Paul

Paul

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 153 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:39 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]"...batted ball data broken down to minutia..." Nice phrase Parker, loaded with meaning. I agree with James that this is a passing fad for all but a few batters. James says 100 or so but I think there's only about 25 guys in each league who can't adapt and take advantage of unusual fielder positioning. All in all I really enjoyed your article until I looked at "[/COLOR][COLOR=#3E3E3E]([/COLOR]which has been a long-standing problem[COLOR=#3E3E3E])" and was reminded of how frustrating it was too watch Harris and Cabrera stumble around, and how excited I was when they hired Hardy, and how pissed I got when they fired him. And how much more pissed I got when they hired Nishioka and I saw him reinstate the stumbling around. And lately I've heard the Twins won't give up the 45th draft pick for Drew. I thought I had recovered, but you just RIPPED OFF MY HARDY SCAB!! I have to go kick the dog and take a nap now. I'm very tired.[/COLOR]

#16 jokin

jokin

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 7,094 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:45 PM

First: Stop it.

Second: Point taken.

Last: Seriously, though, stop it.


Hey, it could be worse. I mistakenly conflated this headline with your heads-up companion post on the Twins checking out Chone Figgins, seemingly as part of an escalation on their new strategy to sign a whole stable of washed-up players.

#17 CRArko

CRArko

    Visiting Castle Anthrax

  • Members
  • 1,485 posts
  • LocationCamelot? 'Tis a silly place.
  • Twitter: crarko

Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:54 PM

"Let the Wookie win."

#18 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 7,480 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 06:54 PM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]
And this is why I want to see Paul Molitor become the next Twins manager. He is one of the few players who got better well into his 30s, indicating that he's open to new ideas and adapting to the environment. He just exudes baseball smarts and this comment just reinforces that opinion.[/COLOR]


getting better as one gets well into his 30s meant something in the late 1990s too, right? Not sure it means he did well at adapting as much as kept himself in good shape and was a great singles hitter for a long time.

#19 Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 7,480 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:05 PM

My thoughts on shifting are kind of boring. I don't believe in shifting (or shading) for every single batter, all game long. I'd look at the stats and the charts and have a sense. But, I don't think I'd open up crazy holes except for the extremes.

#20 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,123 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 09:53 AM

Stupid math and science.....sports is filled with old school, it has always worked this way, thinking. I hope they are more open to change, and finding any advantage you can.

#21 Brock Beauchamp

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 8,790 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:16 AM

getting better as one gets well into his 30s meant something in the late 1990s too, right? Not sure it means he did well at adapting as much as kept himself in good shape and was a great singles hitter for a long time.


It's possible it was just health and fitness related but it seems to me like there'd be a fair amount of adjustment in there as well once bat speed and strength starts to fade.

#22 gobirds

gobirds

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 9 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:27 AM

My thoughts on shifting are kind of boring. I don't believe in shifting (or shading) for every single batter, all game long. I'd look at the stats and the charts and have a sense. But, I don't think I'd open up crazy holes except for the extremes.


One other factor not mentioned is the effect on the batter. When he sees a dramatic shift, does he try to hit the other way? Does this reduce his effectiveness? I would think it would reduce the power numbers if he does. I doubt there is enough data available, but you could compare OPS against the shift and against a standard defensive alignment.

#23 Jim H

Jim H

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 439 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:51 AM

It's possible it was just health and fitness related but it seems to me like there'd be a fair amount of adjustment in there as well once bat speed and strength starts to fade.


It seems to me that when players keep their effectiveness late into their 30's, there are several factors involved. Leaving out PED's, these factors include health and fitness, modern medicine-including surgery, and the player's ability to adapt to his declining skills. Usually a well rounded hitter like Molitor has to decide whether he is going to concentrate on power or average. You saw it a bit with Puckett whose home run totals dropped after his prime years but his average was good. You see the same with Hunter. Some guys like Thome virtually gave up any effort to hit for average and concentrated on power.

#24 Parker Hageman

Parker Hageman

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 1,363 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:55 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E] I doubt there is enough data available, but you could compare OPS against the shift and against a standard defensive alignment.[/COLOR]


BIS has this data (not publicly available) but in James' article, he mentioned that David Ortiz, who is one of the most shifted players, had an average of .245 on grounders/liners when shifted vs .232 when not shifted.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 8,790 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 11:37 AM

BIS has this data (not publicly available) but in James' article, he mentioned that David Ortiz, who is one of the most shifted players, had an average of .245 on grounders/liners when shifted vs .232 when not shifted.


What I would give to see Ortiz start laying bunts down the third base line every time a team shifts against him.

Really, I don't understand why players don't do it... Free base! Even Ortiz can outrun that throw, provided he can get it past the pitcher (which shouldn't be hard against the average RHP).

#26 Parker Hageman

Parker Hageman

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 1,363 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 02:00 PM

This is an interesting little bit from a White Sox blogger in 2012 on how the Twins were one of a few teams that were not shifting on Adam Dunn.

http://www.chicagono...dam-dunn-wrong/

Now a couple of those situations had a runner on first so there may have been the need to keep the shortstop to cover second. It should also be noted that Dunn hit .274 and 17 singles (the highest of any team with 40+ plate appearance) against the Twins that year.

#27 Hosken Bombo Disco

Hosken Bombo Disco

    jamshots, blue darters, and humpback singles

  • Members
  • 1,215 posts

Posted 16 January 2014 - 03:07 PM

This is an interesting little bit from a White Sox blogger in 2012 on how the Twins were one of a few teams that were not shifting on Adam Dunn.

http://www.chicagono...dam-dunn-wrong/

Now a couple of those situations had a runner on first so there may have been the need to keep the shortstop to cover second. It should also be noted that Dunn hit .274 and 17 singles (the highest of any team with 40+ plate appearance) against the Twins that year.


ouch.

#28 Paul Pleiss

Paul Pleiss

    Alcohol Infused

  • Members
  • 575 posts

Posted 18 January 2014 - 09:25 AM

I am not a fan of extreme shifts. Much like Jim Johnson was quoted in the article, some guys you just don't need to shift for, because you're not worried about a guy like, for example Florimon, to be an offensive threat, even if he hits 80% of ground balls to 2B. For some guys, Ortiz, for example, the shift might be the right idea, but not every at bat, not every situation.

I also think it's important how the shift is employed. Do you leave the third basemen alone, or shift him over to play short LF allowing the SS to cover the big expanse on the right side of the diamond? I'll be interested to see what happens, but I don't think the Twins will suddenly be up at the top of the league with the Rays in use of the shift.

#29 Jim H

Jim H

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 439 posts

Posted 18 January 2014 - 10:30 AM

Extreme shifts have been around for a long time. Using modern data gathering techniques as when to employ them makes a certain amount of sense. Still, it can be relatively easy to defeat these shifts as well. I remember years ago, Kent Hrbek winning a game when shifted like that by flaring a little popup the opposite way.

Using an extreme shift like that against say Mauer, no matter his groundball tendencies would seem silly. You would think he would just bunt for doubles all day. I know lots of you would like to see the Twins get all modern and stuff, but I have certain reservations about how effective these shifts really are. Some of the data available kind of confirms those doubts.

#30 Willihammer

Willihammer

    ice cream correspondent

  • Members
  • 2,983 posts
  • LocationSaint Paul

Posted 18 January 2014 - 09:43 PM

I think some people (including, I suspect, Gardy) are overly fearful of the bunt. When is the last time you even saw someone attempt it? I remember Doumit slapping a bunt foul last year in Cleveland - once. But he was shifted on everyday as was Morneau and to a lesser extent, Mauer. I for one can't remember any of them bunting against a shift.

There's not a lot of success/attempt bunt data out there that I'm aware of. But here are the Flat Bat awards on Bill James site. Most all of these guys are 1. fast, and 2. not shifted on.

Truth seems to be that the slow lumbering hitters who see most shifts either aren't bunting at all, or aren't bunting successfully. IN other words, getting beat via the bunt shouldn't be a concern against those guys.

http://www.billjames...3_/<br /><br />[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD][TABLE="align: center"]
[TR]
[TD="colspan: 3, align: center"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]2013 Bunt Hit Leaders[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Name[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Bunt Hit Results[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Batting Average[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Jose Iglesias, Bos-Det[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 10 out of 12[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .833[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Jordan Schafer, Atl[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 8 out of 12[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .667[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Leonys Martin, Tex[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 11 out of 17[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .647[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Everth Cabrera, SD[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 7 out of 11[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .636[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Juan Lagares, NYM[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 7 out of 11[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .636[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Brett Gardner, NYY[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 9 out of 15[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .600[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Starling Marte, Pit[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 10 out of 17[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .588[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Alejandro De Aza, CWS[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 7 out of 12[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .583[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Jarrod Dyson, KC[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 10 out of 18[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .556[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 160, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Will Venable, SD[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 120, align: left"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] 6 out of 11[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[TD="width: 130, align: right"][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] .545[/SIZE][/FONT][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]