Players Shifted, Compared to Last Year

If fans thought they saw a bunch of shifts in last season, the numbers are really up even higher this year. Some players’ productions are really suffering because of the ideal defensive alignment. Today I am going to give a quick look at how often a batter hit into a shift compared to the same time frame in 2013.

Just a couple of reminders on the data. The data is for major infield shifts (3 or more players on one side of the infield). The data is only available on batted balls, so if a player was shifted and struck out, the data wasn’t available. Also, I did not include home runs. Finally, the data is a few days behind, so all data was taken from May 4th and earlier for both 2013 and 2014.


• It was like the Tigers knew Prince Fielder would struggle if he was shifted as much as he is being shifted now.

• Teams are putting more extreme shifts on the right-handed hitting Jose Bautista. He has always been known to pull the ball — it turned his career around.

Colby Rasmus has seen the effects of the shift with his AVG dropping from .276 in 2013 to .234 this season.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

11 Responses to “Players Shifted, Compared to Last Year”

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  1. scotman144 says:

    I thought McCann may see upwards of 50% of his PA’s against the shift this year and it looks like that very well may be the case and then some….wow. Do you have the divisional/team shifting breakdowns for 2014 yet? It was amazing how much more the AL and especially AL east shifted more than most other teams last season.

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  2. Mglarby says:

    Can’t read that chart (“This content cannot be displayed in a frame”) but I’ve heard that Matt Adams is trying to beat the shift by grounding oppo; that’d explain his abnormally low HR/high Avg.

    Also read in these rotograph comments somewhere that Espinosa has 7 bunt singles (out of 26 hits) underlying his abnormally higher batting average. That might be shift related.

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  3. ATrain says:

    Chart doesn’t come up for me either fyi.

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  4. Duder says:

    None of these charts ever show up for me on Chrome (mainly the MASH reports). I use Safari if I want to view them since using Firefox has wrecked two hard drives for some reason.

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  5. Daniel Nerviani says:

    Prince Fielder has the same averages on shifts vs. non shifts. In 2014, shifts avg is 22/82=.268, no shifts avg is 4/15=.266. In 2013, shifts is 10/30=.333 and no shifts is 34/104=.327

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  6. Natty Bunto says:

    I didn’t see any grand means in that table, so I just ran them.

    BA against shift: .308
    BA without shift: .299

    Paired T-test of individual averages shows no significant difference. (Caveat: T-test on averages where many have small sample sizes, take with grain of salt.)

    We’d love to have some power/slugging numbers among that data. Did these guys sacrifice a bunch of doubles trying to go the other way? If so then *maybe* the shift had some value? Otherwise, doesn’t look like it helped any.

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  7. JKB says:

    The Rays wish teams would shift against them…

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