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Thread: The Ted Williams Shift

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    This thread will be devoted to articles, analysis, opinions, and debate about the defensive shift applied to Ted Williams in his career.
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-22-2007 at 09:04 PM.

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    The Ted Williams Shift

    1949 article about the William Shift. In it they also note how many times in 1948 that the NY second basemen using the shift got Ted out.

    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-22-2007 at 09:04 PM.

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    An picture of the Indians employing the shift in 1946.

    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-09-2007 at 09:57 AM.

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    The rest of the article


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    Here is an article about the first person to get the shift, Cy Williams.

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    An interview of Ted Williams by Leigh Montville
    TW: It certainly was the slider. I could hit the slider just as good as I could hit any ball, but I couldn't get it in the air as good. And you know they throw the shift there, and there's nine guys playing on this side and there's nobody over there, and I'm close to the plate and the only way I can get the ball over there is to uppercut it and hit it with the width of the bat, not the length of the bat. So I started looking for sliders and here they came. Boy I was laying for it. I was ready for it and I was crashing it. Now they're a little in doubt, now what are we gonna do? He hits high balls, fastballs, inside, outside, slider is the least dangerous and then they start throwing me a lot of sliders and I was starting to hit them out because I knew that was all I was gonna get. I knew I was gonna get it. If they're getting all of the good hitters out in the league, you knew damn well they were gonna throw it to Williams. So all those things fell in place.

    LM: So the slider made you hit to the left?

    TW: No, I didn't say that. You're putting words, you're trying to put words…

    LM: I'm sorry

    TW: No, I said for me to hit the slider, I had to look for it. I didn't care where a pitch was, if I was looking for it. But the slider was a pitch you kinda had to look for 'cause it was quick at the end. If I couldn't get under it, that's a little lag there, I had to hit it occasionally get one in the air, but it was a ground ball pitch. I didn't want any of those. But when they said go to left field, get a little further away from the plate, then that registered.

    LM: And that opened it up for the .388

    TW: Well, didn't open it up. Why did it open it up?

    LM: Because you were getting hits… because you were hitting to the left field and they couldn't do the shift.

    TW: That's right. They couldn't all go one way, they had to open up. Now I had more holes than I ever had in my life. Just hit a ball, a base hit.

    LM: Did you say to yourself, why didn't I do this before?

    TW: No I didn't, no I didn't. They hadn't changed the shift yet. That year I started hitting to left field a bit more and now they're opening up. I went to Chicago and I think I got 3 or 4 hits at least in the first game and then 3 or 4 hits the next day, and boy that shift was going out the window. Because I'd hit them all to left-center, through the box, shortstop, nobody there. So now they start opening up. Now the weather's getting hotter, June, July, and August. Now, I'm really starting to hit my own way and I had all kinds of room. That's what happened. Mantle had that tremendous year, and I happened to have a year that fell right in place

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    A small note from August 14th 1946
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    Ruths opinion in September of 1946
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    Here is a diagram of the shift employed by the Cards in the 1946 series.


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    Here is snippet showing seasonal splits of 1946, before and after Boudreau employed the shift. Another interesting tidbit was that there was a rumor that the Red Sox were going to send Williams to the Tigers.

    Tallying the numbers
    before the shift: .352/.496/.697
    After the shift: .330/.477/.598
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    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-09-2007 at 10:34 AM.

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    Here is snippet about the Cards shift in the Series.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    This thread will devoted to articles, analysis, opinions, and debate about the defensive shift applied to Ted Williams in his career.
    Can you confirm that Jimmy Dykes used the Shift against Ted on July 23, 1941?
    Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
    Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

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    Some tidbits from the Cards series
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    "The way those clubs shift against Ted Williams, I can't understand how he can be so stupid not to accept the challenge to him and hit to left field." - Ty Cobb

    Agree or Disagree?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Williamsburg2599
    "The way those clubs shift against Ted Williams, I can't understand how he can be so stupid not to accept the challenge to him and hit to left field." - Ty Cobb

    Agree or Disagree?
    I'd have to go with Ty on this one
    Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
    Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

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    That Dyer Defense #2 looks like the typical shift employed today against sluggers like Giambi and Bonds. It's insane that they originally used a shift with NO infielders on the left side.

    While now the third baseman plays where the shortstop usually does, to make it harder to just "poke one left" for a free single or double, the original shifts against Williams absolutely could have yielded up free singles and doubles had he just poked it or punched it to the left side. Even a bunt would have sufficed.

    Thanks for all this original source material, Ubiquitous...it's really interesting.
    "In the end it all comes down to talent. You can talk all you want about intangibles, I just don't know what that means. Talent makes winners, not intangibles. Can nice guys win? Sure, nice guys can win - if they're nice guys with a lot of talent. Nice guys with a little talent finish fourth and nice guys with no talent finish last." --Sandy Koufax

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minstrel
    That Dyer Defense #2 looks like the typical shift employed today against sluggers like Giambi and Bonds. It's insane that they originally used a shift with NO infielders on the left side.

    While now the third baseman plays where the shortstop usually does, to make it harder to just "poke one left" for a free single or double, the original shifts against Williams absolutely could have yielded up free singles and doubles had he just poked it or punched it to the left side. Even a bunt would have sufficed.

    Thanks for all this original source material, Ubiquitous...it's really interesting.

    Williams did try to go to the left, but his stance just didn't let him do that effectively. In the cards series Williams did actually try to bunt to the left and he got castigated by the Boston reporters for doing that. Also if you look in some of those articles you will see that he did try to go to left but usually not with too much success.

    When I get home I'll try and find more articles. I know for instance that his only IPHR came with the shift on with a poke to left, and that supposedly in the first attempt at a shift by Jimmy Dykes in 1941 Williams hit a double to left.

    One of the things I find pretty amazing is the high number of groundballs that Ted was hitting. You don't really picture Ted Williams as a groundball hitter but in some of these articles he his hitting a lot of grounders to the right side. For instance NY secondbasemen supposedly snared 7 groundballs behind first base in one year alone.
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 01-10-2007 at 11:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthMayBond
    I'd have to go with Ty on this one
    ------Me too.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    This thread will devoted to articles, analysis, opinions, and debate about the defensive shift applied to Ted Williams in his career.
    Excellent work, Ubi. I'm learning quite a bit here. Thanks for posting all of this information.

    These are the kind of threads this forum needs more of.

    And out of curiosity, how are you accessing these historical pieces currently?

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    Quote Originally Posted by csh19792001
    Excellent work, Ubi. I'm learning quite a bit here. Thanks for posting all of this information.

    These are the kind of threads this forum needs more of.

    And out of curiosity, how are you accessing these historical pieces currently?

    Agreed. This thread, and JamesWest's "this week in 1941/1951" have been the most interesting reads I've seen on this site in a while.

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    According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer on June 17, 1948. Lou Boudreau conceded that the extreme Williams shift was probably a thing of the past.

    This is Ted's PBP the night before:

    6/16/48 @ Cleveland

    vs Bob Feller:

    1st: single to second-forced at second (Spence GIDP)
    3rd: double to LF-to third on WP-scores on Spence single
    5th: doubles to LF
    7th: HR to LF
    vs Steve Gromek:
    9th: BB-to second on Stephens single-to third on E5 (attempted double steal with Stephens on first)

    After this game, Williams declares that the shift is dead.
    Note that at this point in the season Williams is hitting .407.

    Williams said that he wasn't doing anything different, but was hitting to LF more often because he was seeing more outside pitches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthMayBond
    Can you confirm that Jimmy Dykes used the Shift against Ted on July 23, 1941?
    I find no mention of it in The Sporting News, but the news from Boston, that week, was dominated by Lefty Grove's 300th victory.

    John Holway's The Last .400 Hitter, which is a day by day account of William's 1941 season also makes no mention of the shift.
    Last edited by JamesWest; 01-09-2007 at 03:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesWest
    Williams said that he wasn't doing anything different, but was hitting to LF more often because he was seeing more outside pitches.

    Well somebody should have shot those pitchers then. Why would you set up the shift and then pitch him outside? Seems like you are asking for a double that way. I guess they were happy with a double instead of a homer to right.

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    An article from May of 1948. It discusses his hot start as well as points out Teds batting average in New York in 1948 and talks about the baseball.
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    From June 16th 1948. A little snippet that I find very importnat.
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