Dewan: Is the Ted Williams shift effective?

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on November 30, 2011:

Is the Ted Williams shift effective?

The short answer: Absolutely. But only if the bases are empty.

For the past two years Baseball Info Solutions has been tracking every play during which the defensive team employs a “Ted Williams” type shift where three infielders are playing to the right of second base. Based on our preliminary study of this data, The Shift works when the bases are empty. 

There are five players who faced the shift more than 200 times in 2010 and 2011.  They are David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder.   When looking at groundballs and short liners that they hit (balls that can be handled by infielders), every one of them did worse when facing The Shift with no one on base.

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Originally published: November 30, 2011. Last Updated: November 30, 2011.