Sunday, April 24, 2011

Infield Shift, Part II

In an earlier post on the expanded use of the infield shift, I questioned why more hitters don't just hit the ball the other way. One factor I didn't consider was mentioned by my Dad: Hurlers try to make sure they pitch to spots that make it harder for batters to defeat the shift. That makes a lot of sense.

Interestingly, I found an article about Cy Williams which mentions that managers used a "Ted Williams Shift" against him in the outfield. The name is a bit of a misnomer: Cy's career ended in 1930, so the strategy pre-dated Ted's major league career, which began in 1939.

Jim Rice, the Boston Red Sox slugger of the 1970s, faced an unusual shift: four outfielders. were arrayed against him. I have to admit that this maneuver has faded from my memory. And it turns out New York Mets Manager Gil Hodges employed a similar alignment in the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. And it also was used against Willie McCovey.

In baseball, it often seems that a great new strategy turns out to have its roots in distant decades.

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