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Why are defensive shifts for right-handers so rare?

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  • Why are defensive shifts for right-handers so rare?

    Before last night, I don't remember ever seeing a defensive shift for a righty (three infielders on the left side of the infield). Last night, there was a shift for Vlad Guerrero.

    Based on the following, why don't teams do that more often?

    Career number of balls hit to the each side:
    Ortiz - 1254 to the left, 736 to the right
    Giambi - 1489 to the left, 864 to the right

    Sheffield - 2780 to the right, 826 to the left
    V. Guerrero - 1683 to the right, 929 to the left

    Teams often shift for Giambi and Ortiz, so why don't they shift for righties like Sheffield and Guerrero?!? Shifting for a righty isn't even as risky. A shift for a lefty usually leaves the 3rd base line open for an easy bunt single. Giambi has capitalized on this at least a few times.

  • #2
    I dont think ive ever seen a shift for the righty. Only thing i can think of is the first baseman has to stay somewhat close to the bag when lefties are up making the defense on that side able to cover a little less ground than if you flip it and show how the defense would be a for a righty. The thirdbaseman could play farther back since he wouldnt eventually have to reach the bag for the put out?

    G Man

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    • #3
      Good question.
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      • #4
        Pertaining to the extreme shifts that we see, I suppose maybe they don't do it due to the terrible position that the SS would be if he made a play on the ball since I equate shifts to playing in the outfield grass?? There would be little chance of throwing out runners if you think of mirroring where 2B play on the lefty shifts.

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        • #5
          One that I can think of is Mark McGuire they used to shift for. I want to say I've seen it done for Albert Pujols a couple times too, but not too often...
          Mike Hopper
          Former Gateway Grizzlies Intern

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bulldog19 View Post
            One that I can think of is Mark McGuire they used to shift for. I want to say I've seen it done for Albert Pujols a couple times too, but not too often...

            That would be correct, but he hits the ball opposite field more than enough to make it pretty rare.
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            • #7
              Because the first baseman cannot stray too far off the first base bag.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by JDD View Post
                Because the first baseman cannot stray too far off the first base bag.
                Why not? The batter has 90' to run, so even if the 1st baseman is 30' from 1st, he'll still get there in time.

                If there's a runner on first, then they would hold the runner and leave a big hole on the right side - but, that's no different than the big hole on the left side for a lefty shift.

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                • #9
                  Didn't teams used to shift when Frank Thomas came up to bat?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                    Why not? The batter has 90' to run, so even if the 1st baseman is 30' from 1st, he'll still get there in time.

                    If there's a runner on first, then they would hold the runner and leave a big hole on the right side - but, that's no different than the big hole on the left side for a lefty shift.
                    in many cases you don't want to rely on a 1B speed, especially when it could happen 10-20 times in a game (compared to 4 times for a batter)

                    I think having a 2B behind the bag is as much as is necessary, after that it doesn't seem like it would work.

                    Unless maybe with the Dodgers since Furcal could throw someone out from the grass.
                    "Batting stats and pitching stats do not indicate the quality of play, merely which part of that struggle is dominant at the moment."

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                    • #11
                      As I recall, the Expos used to shift their infielders for Gary Carter when he came up to the plate against them.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bulldog19 View Post
                        One that I can think of is Mark McGuire they used to shift for. I want to say I've seen it done for Albert Pujols a couple times too, but not too often...
                        You beat me to it- I was going to say Big Mac.
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                        • #13
                          MLB managers must have been reading this thread back in 2009! What was once rare is now very common.

                          MLB Shifts on Balls in Play vs. RHBs
                          Season Shifts
                          2010 40
                          2011 84
                          2012 787
                          2013 1,718
                          2014 4,032

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                            MLB managers must have been reading this thread back in 2009! What was once rare is now very common.

                            MLB Shifts on Balls in Play vs. RHBs
                            Season Shifts
                            2010 40
                            2011 84
                            2012 787
                            2013 1,718
                            2014 4,032
                            Did you ever doubt our influence?

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                            • #15
                              Wow, a four hundred percent increase in five years. That's incredible.
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