How To Beat The Shift - Baseball Prospectus

You can now get data on infield and outfield positioning, on a pitch-by-pitch basis, from the Baseball Savant website, specifically whether The Shift was being played. In the past, using SIS data, I found evidence that The Shift actually increased BABIP over what we might expect, based on the hitters who get shifted. If we sum across the league, we can get a good idea on how The Shift is doing in the aggregate. In the Statcast data set, we see that BABIP go down in front of The Shift overall, but there's a difference between the Partial Shift and the Full Shift. It's worth about seven points of on-base percentage for the Partial Shift and five points for the Full Shift. Again, the "Expected Number" refers to how well we would expect the sample to perform, based on how they perform in front of a Full Shift. The infield shift has a nasty side effect that makes the treatment worse than the disease in most cases, and until that side effect is better understood, The Shift should be used very cautiously.

More from The Shift

Worst shifts in the league? Why Jake Arrieta may have a...

Jake Arrieta unloaded on the Phillies' defensive shifting after a "horseshit" sweep in San Francisco. He's spot on, according to some metrics assessing the team's use of shifts.

Are Rays' Shifts Redefining Infield Defense?

In each of the last two seasons, Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays did more infield shifting than any other team in the majors. But does it work? And are they taking things to a new level in 2012?