Defensive shifts are less important than personnel, but the Colorado Rockies … – Purple Row
In 2013, the Rockies had one of the most efficient infields despite not shifting very much. But that trend did not continue in 2014.
Late last April, I asked about the Rockies and the infield shift, by which I mean extreme shifts wherein three infielders are on one side of second base. I investigated the extent to which the Rockies used the infield shift along with how effective or ineffective the infield was in turning groundballs into outs. At the beginning of my research, I expected to write your standard blog post critical toward an ostensibly analytics-blind front office: “The Rockies don’t shift enough. Not shifting enough is bad. Therefore, the Rockies should shift more.” Compounding the problem, I thought, was the team’s emphasis on ground-ball pitchers.
What I found was at once more surprising and more interesting. Using 2013 as a foundation, I showed that the Rockies were, indeed, among the least shifty teams in baseball; however, at the same time they were also among the best in turning groundballs into outs—seventh best in baseball, to be precise. And they did so while finishing third in ground-ball percentage and second in groundballs induced. The trend continued during the first month of the 2014 season. The Rockies ranked last in baseball for shifts deployed at the time the article went up, but they were among the best at turning groundballs into outs. I concluded that while the Rockies could still improve by shifting more, the team’s lack of shift deployments was not really hurting the team.
Below, I look at how well that trend held up for the remainder of 2014, with a glimpse ahead to the upcoming season.
The 2014 results were mixed. Two trends continued: The Rockies finished the season with the fewest shifts deployed (according to The Bill James Handbook 2015), and they maintained a high ground-ball percentage, finishing third in baseball behind the Pirates and the Dodgers. The course that did not persist was the Rockies’ superior ability to turn groundballs into outs. According to Baseball Reference, the Rockies ranked 18th in baseball in batting average against on groundballs. Opposing batters hit .251. Against the Pirates—a team that ranked first in ground-ball percentage and sixth in number of shifts deployed—batters hit .226 on groundballs. That was fourth-best in baseball in 2014.
For these reasons, the Rockies’ counterintuitive 2013 results of few shifts yet excellent results did not carry over to 2014 to … – Click Here To Visit Article Source