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Hitters Who Should Be Shifted More Often

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October 21, 2015

The 2016 Bill James Handbook will be on bookshelves on November 1, but we wanted to give you a bit of a sneak preview. In the Handbook, we go through a detailed Q and A that is all about shifts. What follows is one of those questions and answers.

 

Q: Who are some of the more interesting hitters? Specifically, how do these guys perform when shifted compared to when they are not shifted?

A: There are quite a few players who are almost always shifted now (90% of the time and more): David Ortiz, Chris Davis, Lucas Duda, Ryan Howard, Adam LaRoche. Collectively this group hit .199 on grounders and short liners with the shift in place. The 2015 MLB average was .230 on grounders and short liners with a shift on. That's 33 points lower than the MLB average of .263 with no shift on. Let's put that in a chart:

Batting Average on Grounders and Short Liners
Name Shift Percentage When Shifted No Shift
MLB Overall 18% .230 .263

 

But the more interesting hitters are those that were not shifted as frequently as David Ortiz and clan. Here is a sampling of players who were not shifted all the time but were severely hampered when shifted:

Batting Average on Grounders and Short Liners
Name Shift Percentage When Shifted No Shift
Prince Fielder 65% .250 .337
Adrian Gonzalez 62% .148 .195
Edwin Encarnacion 56% .196 .260
Curtis Granderson 54% .192 .392
Albert Pujols 48% .196 .240

 

Edwin Encarnacion and Albert Pujols are particularly interesting in that they are right-handed hitters. Teams are becoming more and more comfortable shifting on righties, despite the fact that there is a bigger gap on the first base side of second with the first baseman needing to stay closer to the bag.

 

The 2016 Bill James Handbook contains 12 additional questions and answers related to shifts as well as more detailed shift analytics. You can pre-order The 2016 Bill James Handbook now.


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