BIS has this data (not publicly available) but in James' article, he mentioned that David Ortiz, who is one of the most shifted players, had an average of .245 on grounders/liners when shifted vs .232 when not shifted.Quote:
I doubt there is enough data available, but you could compare OPS against the shift and against a standard defensive alignment.
Really, I don't understand why players don't do it... Free base! Even Ortiz can outrun that throw, provided he can get it past the pitcher (which shouldn't be hard against the average RHP).
This is an interesting little bit from a White Sox blogger in 2012 on how the Twins were one of a few teams that were not shifting on Adam Dunn.
Now a couple of those situations had a runner on first so there may have been the need to keep the shortstop to cover second. It should also be noted that Dunn hit .274 and 17 singles (the highest of any team with 40+ plate appearance) against the Twins that year.
I am not a fan of extreme shifts. Much like Jim Johnson was quoted in the article, some guys you just don't need to shift for, because you're not worried about a guy like, for example Florimon, to be an offensive threat, even if he hits 80% of ground balls to 2B. For some guys, Ortiz, for example, the shift might be the right idea, but not every at bat, not every situation.
I also think it's important how the shift is employed. Do you leave the third basemen alone, or shift him over to play short LF allowing the SS to cover the big expanse on the right side of the diamond? I'll be interested to see what happens, but I don't think the Twins will suddenly be up at the top of the league with the Rays in use of the shift.
Extreme shifts have been around for a long time. Using modern data gathering techniques as when to employ them makes a certain amount of sense. Still, it can be relatively easy to defeat these shifts as well. I remember years ago, Kent Hrbek winning a game when shifted like that by flaring a little popup the opposite way.
Using an extreme shift like that against say Mauer, no matter his groundball tendencies would seem silly. You would think he would just bunt for doubles all day. I know lots of you would like to see the Twins get all modern and stuff, but I have certain reservations about how effective these shifts really are. Some of the data available kind of confirms those doubts.
I think some people (including, I suspect, Gardy) are overly fearful of the bunt. When is the last time you even saw someone attempt it? I remember Doumit slapping a bunt foul last year in Cleveland - once. But he was shifted on everyday as was Morneau and to a lesser extent, Mauer. I for one can't remember any of them bunting against a shift.
There's not a lot of success/attempt bunt data out there that I'm aware of. But here are the Flat Bat awards on Bill James site. Most all of these guys are 1. fast, and 2. not shifted on.
Truth seems to be that the slow lumbering hitters who see most shifts either aren't bunting at all, or aren't bunting successfully. IN other words, getting beat via the bunt shouldn't be a concern against those guys.
2013 Bunt Hit Leaders Name Bunt Hit Results Batting Average Jose Iglesias, Bos-Det 10 out of 12 .833 Jordan Schafer, Atl 8 out of 12 .667 Leonys Martin, Tex 11 out of 17 .647 Everth Cabrera, SD 7 out of 11 .636 Juan Lagares, NYM 7 out of 11 .636 Brett Gardner, NYY 9 out of 15 .600 Starling Marte, Pit 10 out of 17 .588 Alejandro De Aza, CWS 7 out of 12 .583 Jarrod Dyson, KC 10 out of 18 .556 Will Venable, SD 6 out of 11 .545
Article from about 2 years back on trying to bunt vs the shift: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/beati...fensive-shift/
Depends on the hitter's expected output, but a required success rate of roughly 45% sounds about right. You'd think most guys could successfully do that with a little effort behind it.