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Beating the Shift

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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby buffalobillsrul2002 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:56 pm

LloydChristmas wrote: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?


Actually, very few hitters hit the ball on the ground the other way. And very few power hitters hit line drive the other way. If you want to experiment, take an object like a ping-pong paddle and swing at a ping-pong ball (using a baseball style swing). You'll find that it's really difficult to hit a solid "poke" the other way without completely altering your swing to do so. And for Ryan Howard, completely altering his swing to hit line drives the other way would take away his power, which in large part comes from really rotating his hips through the strike zone.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:00 pm

WIthout getting into a sad nostalgia trip and without sounding snippy, I've played baseball at a high level so I'm familiar with hitting. It's a matter of what you're trying to do at the plate.

Obviously Ryan Howard does what he sets out to do very well: hit home runs and drives in runs. But I also have no doubt that with major league coaching and his major league talent, he could be a more complete hitter especially given the ridiculous defenses he sees. That's the key here. As someone else said, if he he hit the ball the other way with any frequency at all, teams would have to play him straight up. Then all those rockets to the 2nd baseman playing short right field will be hits. It's a win-win in my mind.

Look at this graph. It's his batting average on balls in play. There could obviously be confounding factors, but isn't it curious that his BABIP has been down for 3 years now? Because of the overshifts maybe?

Image

So what would it take and why doesn't he do it?

Obviously when you have the kind of a start to a career that Howard had, you don't want to try to fix what isn't broken. But by the nature of the game, everyone in baseball is broken to a certain degree. The MLB is a stubborn place and there's obviously that school of thought of "why ask a power hitting to do anything but swing for the fence every time?"

My answer would be a player like Kevin Youkilis who creates more runs than Ryan Howard while hitting less homers and getting on base more. He's empirically been a better hitter over the last two years. I guess it could be a prolonged slump but in my opinion, Howard needs to adapt to the game and he could be a more valuable hitter.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby CadensDad » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:05 pm

Howard learning to bunt? What next we send Juan Peirre to the cages to bulk up so he can hit homers when the infeild "comes in" on him?
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby CadensDad » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:07 pm

To finish what I was saying before my son hit buttons on here, Howard has a job, it's to make ball go far. It's not to get on base, that's Rollins job. Howard is there for big hits, not for singles or bunts down the third base line.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:17 pm

CadensDad wrote:To finish what I was saying before my son hit buttons on here, Howard has a job, it's to make ball go far. It's not to get on base, that's Rollins job. Howard is there for big hits, not for singles or bunts down the third base line.


I understand you're simplifying the situation to make a point, but tactfully put, your point is pretty weak.

You're basically saying that no player should ever try to improve themselves past what their best attribute is; No player should ever adapt to the situation they're presented with.

My point is somewhat proven that baseball, its culture, and its fans are stunningly hard-headed. (No offense obviously...)
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby CadensDad » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:22 pm

I just don't see a point in Howard learning a new swing in order to get a few more hits, plus once Howard does this 2 or 3 times they won't shift as often or as much and all the time he spent learning this unnatural (For him at least.) would now become almost worthless.

But
LloydChristmas wrote:

My point is somewhat proven that baseball, its culture, and its fans are stunningly hard-headed. (No offense obviously...)


Don't worry I didn't take offense, some people just live out on a limb and like to fix something that's not broken
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:26 pm

Sorry if that was a bit harsh but go back and read my most recent longer post.

Whether or not you did read it, give me more than, "oh no, what you were talking about is new and different and crazy. no way!"

There was a time when bringing in a relief pitcher was CRAZY. Think about it. Even look at how the game has changed in the last 25 years. Anything's possible.
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby LloydChristmas » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:33 pm

In any other sport, if the defense did something so drastic to stop you and it left such an obvious way to beat it, the offense would do that. Look at football. If the defense stacked the line against a team with a great running back, you wouldn't keep pounding the ball between the tackles because "Hey, we got 6 YPC before, why fix what isn't broke". You'd run the ball but take a shot down field every now and then to keep the defense honest.

I see that example as almost the exact same situation that Howard and other power-lefties are in. Sure, if you ran the ball every down, you might bust a couple of big runs just like Howard will get his HRs. But if you can improve your overall output by making the defense do what you want them to do, then why not?
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby bazzy_51 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:08 pm

LloydChristmas wrote:In any other sport, if the defense did something so drastic to stop you and it left such an obvious way to beat it, the offense would do that. Look at football. If the defense stacked the line against a team with a great running back, you wouldn't keep pounding the ball between the tackles because "Hey, we got 6 YPC before, why fix what isn't broke". You'd run the ball but take a shot down field every now and then to keep the defense honest.

I see that example as almost the exact same situation that Howard and other power-lefties are in. Sure, if you ran the ball every down, you might bust a couple of big runs just like Howard will get his HRs. But if you can improve your overall output by making the defense do what you want them to do, then why not?


Uh-oh a football reference, now your in for it gonna tear you apart for that... but at any rate i agree with you to a point and that is... going back to your football reference and even basketball but more so baseball, players have tendencies and have had those tendencies for years, that of course is the most possible answer as to why they are on that particular team in that particular position anyways. what i mean is like in basketball, you look at guy like, oh i dunno, Allen Iverson, who is a ball hog shooter who merely is on the court to produce stats, he was working out perfectly fine with Denver got traded to the Piston's last year and they wanted him to change his role up and pass more, then even wanted to bench him to use his top scoring ability off the bench as a 6th man (i.e. JR Smith for the Nuggets) and he basically quit on them... then going back to your football reference and the running game, you can tell one of the most prolific RBs in the league (Adrian Peterson) that he needs to change up his cuts and carry with 2 hands more often to prevent turnovers, but thats his running style its shifty, using alot of his off arm and thus carrying the ball more losely, but using that style has made him one of the more feared backs in the league... i guess my point is this its not about 'change for the better, in turn isn't good' because i agree with you Howard could be a MUCH more dominant force if he could just slap the ball to the opposite field the way Ichiro does, but thats not his style hes a big kid and im guessing from the time he was in middle school he was a 'power hitter' and created that persona about himself. with that being said its the old quote 'can't teach an old dog new tricks' and its true Ryan has grown through the years with this swing and the mentality that every ball he comes in contact with his going wherever it goes but going there with a ton of heat behind it. i also think that trying to change him up to put the ball into play the opposite way with injust hurt him alot more then just his power stroke, as you have to swing a bit later to push the ball that way and with Ryan's incredible strikeout numbers i don't see a purpose in messing with his mind to slow his bat speed down or start his approach later to push the ball as i think that will just equal more strikeouts. and with a power bat i think you trying to change him to push the ball, him in turn striking out more will just be funk him in a way that it may then turn out doubly bad because he will start 2nd guessing himself in his swing and then not only will you not have the power stroke, but the contact to push swing will be out the window also... i totally agree with you tho that it would make him a much better and feared batter if he could, but again it would take more work and hurt him more in the long run to basically create a whole new hitter IMO..
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Re: Beating the Shift

Postby buffalobillsrul2002 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:32 pm

bazzy_51 wrote:
LloydChristmas wrote:In any other sport, if the defense did something so drastic to stop you and it left such an obvious way to beat it, the offense would do that. Look at football. If the defense stacked the line against a team with a great running back, you wouldn't keep pounding the ball between the tackles because "Hey, we got 6 YPC before, why fix what isn't broke". You'd run the ball but take a shot down field every now and then to keep the defense honest.

I see that example as almost the exact same situation that Howard and other power-lefties are in. Sure, if you ran the ball every down, you might bust a couple of big runs just like Howard will get his HRs. But if you can improve your overall output by making the defense do what you want them to do, then why not?


Uh-oh a football reference, now your in for it gonna tear you apart for that... but at any rate i agree with you to a point and that is... going back to your football reference and even basketball but more so baseball, players have tendencies and have had those tendencies for years, that of course is the most possible answer as to why they are on that particular team in that particular position anyways. what i mean is like in basketball, you look at guy like, oh i dunno, Allen Iverson, who is a ball hog shooter who merely is on the court to produce stats, he was working out perfectly fine with Denver got traded to the Piston's last year and they wanted him to change his role up and pass more, then even wanted to bench him to use his top scoring ability off the bench as a 6th man (i.e. JR Smith for the Nuggets) and he basically quit on them... then going back to your football reference and the running game, you can tell one of the most prolific RBs in the league (Adrian Peterson) that he needs to change up his cuts and carry with 2 hands more often to prevent turnovers, but thats his running style its shifty, using alot of his off arm and thus carrying the ball more losely, but using that style has made him one of the more feared backs in the league... i guess my point is this its not about 'change for the better, in turn isn't good' because i agree with you Howard could be a MUCH more dominant force if he could just slap the ball to the opposite field the way Ichiro does, but thats not his style hes a big kid and im guessing from the time he was in middle school he was a 'power hitter' and created that persona about himself. with that being said its the old quote 'can't teach an old dog new tricks' and its true Ryan has grown through the years with this swing and the mentality that every ball he comes in contact with his going wherever it goes but going there with a ton of heat behind it. i also think that trying to change him up to put the ball into play the opposite way with injust hurt him alot more then just his power stroke, as you have to swing a bit later to push the ball that way and with Ryan's incredible strikeout numbers i don't see a purpose in messing with his mind to slow his bat speed down or start his approach later to push the ball as i think that will just equal more strikeouts. and with a power bat i think you trying to change him to push the ball, him in turn striking out more will just be funk him in a way that it may then turn out doubly bad because he will start 2nd guessing himself in his swing and then not only will you not have the power stroke, but the contact to push swing will be out the window also... i totally agree with you tho that it would make him a much better and feared batter if he could, but again it would take more work and hurt him more in the long run to basically create a whole new hitter IMO..


Exactly... also to have him start his swing later to slap pitches the other way would be terrible for him... it'd be like a whole new swing. That's why all players are flawed, because there is no perfect swing. For instance, Ichiro is a great average hitter, but because he just slaps the ball, he struggles to hit HR. Whereas Howard can't hit ground balls or line drives the other way to increase his avg, but when he gets into one, the ball goes very far.
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