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Baseball's Defensive Dance: How the Dodgers and Red Sox Use the Shift

Baseball's Defensive Dance: How the Dodgers and Red Sox Use the Shift Breaking News Home / Sports / Baseball's Defensive…

Baseball’s Defensive Dance: How the Dodgers and Red Sox Use the Shift
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Home / Sports / Baseball’s Defensive Dance: How the Dodgers and Red Sox Use the Shift

Every inning, Justin Turner jogs out to third base to play the position for the Dodgers. At some point in the inning, depending on the batter, Turner might move to his left about 80 feet to stand behind second base. Or he might move farther afield and stand where the second baseman usually plays. Who knows where he will show up next?

Turner’s dance is not new to baseball. Major League teams have been moving players around the infield more and more for the better part of a decade. And the trend continues to skyrocket.

35,000 REGULAR SEASON SHIFTS

Sports Info Solutions

This season, teams played infielders in a position other than their traditional spots 34,673 times – more than 6,500 times above the previous record set in 2016. And that number counts only shifts when a ball is put into play – no shifts are used when an at-bat ends in a walk or a strikeout.

But teams use the shift in different ways, as the Dodgers and Red Sox have shown during the postseason. Both teams use a treasure trove of data to decide where to place their defenders, but Los Angeles has logged almost twice as many postseason shifts as Boston has when the ball is put in play.

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In Game 1 of the World Series, for example, Los Angeles had three infielders on the same side of second base 15 times, the Red Sox only 5 times.

Turner was by far the most traveled infielder in that game. Against a single hitter, the left-handed Jackie Bradley Jr., below, Turner showed up all over the place – playing three different spots in Bradley’s four trips to the plate .

Justin Turner

Dodgers 3rd baseman

8th inning,

runner on first

4th and 6th

innings, no one

on base

2nd inning,

runners on

first and third

Justin Turner

Dodgers 3rd Baseman

8th Inning,

Runner On First

4th and 6th

Innings, No One

On Base

2nd Inning,

runners on

first and third

Justin Turner

Dodgers 3rd baseman

8th inning,

runner on first

4th and 6th

innings, no one

on base [19659037] 2nd Inning,

Runners On

First and Third

Justin Turner

Dodgers 3rd Baseman

8th Inning,

Runner On First

4th and 6th

659033] innings, no one

on base

2nd inning,

runners on

first and third

Justin Turner

Dodgers 3rd baseman

The Dodgers’ Second Basemen – Brian Dozier, and later, Enrique Hernández, – did not log the miles that Turner did, but they were still busy. De spilte kun i mere traditionelle positioner 10 gange, eller omkring en fjerdedel af de Red Sox batters. They played on the shortstop side of second base five times and they shifted to play more up the middle 22 times.

This photo shows the first Red Sox batter of the game, Mookie Betts, with Dozier on the shortstop side of second base

With Boston starting six right-handed batters, the Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado played in the traditional shortstop position, about two-thirds of the time. But he did set up on the second-base side of the bag five times.

Four times, when he was the only infielder on the shortstop side of second (thanks to the wandering Turner), he played in on the grass, Manny Machado

Manny Machado

Manny Machado

Dodgers shortstop

Manny Machado

Dodgers shortstop

Manny Machado

Manny Machado

Dodgers shortstop

Dodgers shortstop

Dodgers shortstop

Manny Machado

Dodgers shortstop

The shift paid big dividends early for the Dodgers in Game 1. The image above is in the second inning with runners on first and third and one out for the Red Sox. Bradley hit a hard shot up the middle that looked like it would extend Boston’s lead. But Machado had him played perfectly, fielding the ball, stepping on second and throwing first for an inning-ending double play.

Besides Machado’s double play, just how often did these shifts lead to outs ?

The Dodgers have used many more shifts in the postseason than the Red Sox and have accumulated more outs because of them. Men hvis du overvejer at motstandernes batting averages på jorden og kortlinjespor – så har Red Sox gået lidt bedre.

GRUNDBALLER

SHORT LINERS

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As much as the defensive shifts have helped the Dodgers, they have also been victimized by them. Manny Machado and Todd Bellinger have each lost three hits to the shift more than any other batters in the postseason.

vs. Braves, fielder’s choice

vs. Brewers, fielder’s choice

vs. Braves, fielder’s choice

vs. Brewers, fielder’s choice

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Boston’s shifts were much tamer than the Dodgers’ in Game 1. Part of the reason was that the Dodgers started a lineup of all right-handed hitters against The lefty Chris Sale – a first for any team in the World Series.

So for the first 22 Dodger batters, the Red Sox generally played the same infield defense, with second baseman Ian Kinsler shaded well towards second base. Ian Kinsler

Red Sox 2nd basseman

Ian Kinsler

Red Sox 2nd basseman

Ian Kinsler

Red Sox 2nd Baseman

Ian Kinsler

Red Sox 2nd Baseman

Ian Kinsler

Red Sox 2nd Baseman

After Sale came out of the game and the Dodgers started pinch-hitting some of their left-handed batters , Boston’s shift became a bit more interesting .

The shortstop Xander Bogaerts, having played in a more traditional position for all those Dodger righties, now played up the middle or on the other side of second base against The Left Handers.

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox Shortstop

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox Shortstop

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox Shortstop

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox Shortstop [19659100] Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox shortstop

Xander Bogaerts

] Red Sox shortstop

All of the extra shifting at the Dodgers has yet to pay the ultimate dividend in the World Series, with the Red Sox winning the first two games. Still, the Dodgers are likely to keep moving their infielders around as long as batters insist on pulling the ball no matter what. And because of that, Turner will continue to have one position in the box score and several on the field.

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