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Beating the Shift

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Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:41 pm

As I'm sure many of you have, I've frequently wondered why more left-handed hitters don't work harder to beat the overshift by going the other way.

I'll use the Phillies as an example because I watch them everyday. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard almost always get the overshift. What's stopping them from dropping a bunt down the 3rd base line every now and then? My best guess is inertia (trying something new in baseball is VERY taboo).

Worst-case scenario: the bunt goes foul and it's a strike or the pitcher gets to it and throws the runner out. If it gets by the pitcher, it's a hit because the nearest guy on defense is where the SS normally is. This is pretty easy to do however because the hitter doesn't have to worry about placing it in the front of the 3rd baseman because there is no 3rd baseman.

Furthermore, the other team probably then has to go back into their normal alignment or concede a couple extra hits per night.

Look at Ryan Howard's spray chart. Check ground outs and look at all his ground outs to shallow right field:

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_pla ... statType=1
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby buffalobillsrul2002 » Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:03 pm

I agree with you. Granted, they would then have to spend time working on their bunting so they could get good enough at bunting it past the pitcher. The other problem is that then the fielding team would just shift back to the "mini-overshift" (taking out the normal SS position and having a guy play between like 3rd and SS or something...). Against a guy like Howard this wouldn't change much, as he's hit all of three ground ball to the left side of 2nd base...
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby Mortician » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:56 am

LloydChristmas wrote:As I'm sure many of you have, I've frequently wondered why more left-handed hitters don't work harder to beat the overshift by going the other way.

I'll use the Phillies as an example because I watch them everyday. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard almost always get the overshift. What's stopping them from dropping a bunt down the 3rd base line every now and then? My best guess is inertia (trying something new in baseball is VERY taboo).

Worst-case scenario: the bunt goes foul and it's a strike or the pitcher gets to it and throws the runner out. If it gets by the pitcher, it's a hit because the nearest guy on defense is where the SS normally is. This is pretty easy to do however because the hitter doesn't have to worry about placing it in the front of the 3rd baseman because there is no 3rd baseman.

Furthermore, the other team probably then has to go back into their normal alignment or concede a couple extra hits per night.

Look at Ryan Howard's spray chart. Check ground outs and look at all his ground outs to shallow right field:

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_pla ... statType=1


why would you want howard to bunt?
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby smoovethug » Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:33 am

Power hitters are getting paid to swing the bat and drive in runs, not bunt to make them play you straight up. If Howard or Utley decide to drop a bunt down to beat the shift the opposing manager should take that every time.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby Bloody Sox » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:54 am

smoovethug wrote:Power hitters are getting paid to swing the bat and drive in runs, not bunt to make them play you straight up. If Howard or Utley decide to drop a bunt down to beat the shift the opposing manager should take that every time.

See - I don't know how much I buy this logic. At some point, a guy getting on base a certain percentage of time becomes more valuable than hitting a HR every 10-15 ABs, as it all boils down to Runs Created. I don't know how to work out the numbers, but look at a guy like Howard... if he improved his OBP by 100 points to .450, he'd be getting on base an additional 60 times - doing so at the expense of 10-15 HRs would be worth it.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby swyck » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:15 am

Bloody Sox wrote:
smoovethug wrote:Power hitters are getting paid to swing the bat and drive in runs, not bunt to make them play you straight up. If Howard or Utley decide to drop a bunt down to beat the shift the opposing manager should take that every time.

See - I don't know how much I buy this logic. At some point, a guy getting on base a certain percentage of time becomes more valuable than hitting a HR every 10-15 ABs, as it all boils down to Runs Created. I don't know how to work out the numbers, but look at a guy like Howard... if he improved his OBP by 100 points to .450, he'd be getting on base an additional 60 times - doing so at the expense of 10-15 HRs would be worth it.

No don't think so, not if that extra OBP comes at the expense of SLG. If he gets on base an extra 60 times how many times will he score as opposed to those 10-15 HRS? I see no reason to believe that a potentially small increment in OBP is better then swinging away, and I don't see any reason to believe that it would be any 100 points.

Utley would be a bit different since he has the speed to beat out a bunt, plus getting on base in front of Howard is a good thing, but he already has a .414 OBP. Also I wouldn't want Howard to be racing down the line more then he has to. I don't think that would be a good thing.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby AquaMan2342 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:28 am

I don't think the point of bunting down the left field line would eventually be about getting a base hit. For these pull hitters, it should be all about keeping the defense honest enough to keep the right side of the field open because of said hitter's tendencies. I agree in believing these players should be bunting though.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby heyeaglefn » Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:28 pm

Mortician wrote: why would you want howard to bunt?


Because when he comes up and they are losing , they usually need base runners and not trying to hit a solo home run. If they are down 1 then swing, but if you are down two or three and no one is on base then why not.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby buffalobillsrul2002 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:35 pm

smoovethug wrote:Power hitters are getting paid to swing the bat and drive in runs, not bunt to make them play you straight up. If Howard or Utley decide to drop a bunt down to beat the shift the opposing manager should take that every time.


I would think that managers really wouldn't want the hitter to just drop down a bunt single every time, if they were really that scared of the hitter they would just go ahead and walk him every time up.

However, it'd be tough to actually push the bunt past the pitcher down the 3rd base-line. Bunting is much more difficult than it looks, especially for a guy like Howard. I don't know how successful he'd be; I'd say he'd have to be able to do it at least 50% of the time or so for managers to be unhappy. Also, it wouldn't be that hard to shift the 3rd baseman back to his normal position and leave the other three guys where they are (similar to what is done often with Howrad when there's a man on 2nd base). Also, if the pitcher was expecting the bunt, I'd think they could get off the mound to make the play, as there is already a man behind 2nd base pretty much in the overshift so the pitcher isn't serving much of a purpose as a fielder....
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:25 pm

My main point is that Ryan Howard could become an exponentially more effective hitter if he learned to drive more balls to the opposite field. He has the ability as a lot of his HRs are to left but other than the long ball, a solid, hips-closed, poke to left is a rarity. And this isn't something that has to come at the expense of HRs.

Obviously, I'm not a pioneer coming in here and saying that Ryan Howard should hit the ball where the defense isn't standing and strike out less, but if it's such conventional wisdom, then why isn't he showing a more demonstrated effort to do it?
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