Dewan: To shift or not to shift

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on March 29, 2012:

That is the question.  In our book, The Fielding Bible—Volume III, Ben Jedlovec and I provide some research that suggests that a shift, in particular, the Ted Williams Shift with three infielders to the right of second base, reduces the batting average on groundballs, short liners and bunts by the top-shifted hitters by 40 to 60 points. In a recent article on Bill James Online, Bill James states that he doesn’t believe that the shift helps a team defensively, and that there are some flaws in the research.

This essay is a little longer than our usual Stat of the Week, but I think it is worth it.  I will address Bill’s comments, but before I do that, I’d like to provide some further information about The Shift.

The Tampa Bay Rays were the best defensive team in baseball last year.   Here is a list of the top teams from 2011:

2011 Runs Saved Leaders

Team Runs Saved
Tampa Bay Rays 85
Arizona Diamondbacks 54
San Diego Padres 46
Cincinnati Reds 44
Colorado Rockies 34

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 29, 2012. Last Updated: March 29, 2012.