Simon: Infield shifts are up this season, and pitchers can see the value in Shift Runs Saved

From SABR member Mark Simon at The Athletic on August 14, 2019:

The scene plays out every so often in baseball, one that always seems to make the highlight shows. A team shifts its infield so that three fielders are on the pull side of second base. The batter counters that with an opposite-field single, right past a spot vacated by the infielder who had moved to the pull side. The pitcher smirks, yells into his glove or, in the case of Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill in late May, goes on a profane rant as he stomps around the mound in anger.

Except for every time that happens, there are multiple instances in which a shifted defense comes through for a pitcher. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pointed that out afterward and the numbers back it up. There’s a reason shifts are up about 30 percent this season.

You don’t typically hear a pitcher say after a game, “Boy, I’m sure glad we played a shift there.” But it’s something that should probably be heard more often.

Our intent here is to show you which pitchers should be the most grateful.

Read the full article here (subscription required):

Originally published: August 15, 2019. Last Updated: August 15, 2019.