LADY AT THE BAT: Trying To Understand The Shift

Monday, April 9, 2012

Trying To Understand The Shift

As the Yankees stumbled out of the box to an 0-3 record this weekend, I struggled to understand why one thing kept happening: They continued to hit into Joe Maddon's defensive shift, over and over again.

Except for a single at-bat in which I was hit by a pitch, I never played baseball (or softball for that matter).  Perhaps if I'd played I'd understand, and I wouldn't think that, what the Yankees are doing when they come to bat illustrates the definition of insanity: Doing something the same way, over and over again, and expecting different results.

I just don't understand. And what is even more baffling to me is what players on the team say about it (from

"You're going to hit it at people.... Sometimes it goes through, sometimes it doesn't." -- Mark Teixeira

[My focus is on] "getting a good pitch to hit and smoking it."-- Alex Rodriguez

"...I just tell our guys to keep hitting the ball hard, and it'll work."-- Joe Girardi

To be fair, Girardi also thinks opposing teams employ the shift to get batters away from what they do best.

So? What would be the harm in trying to hit against the shift? If you're going to make out anyway...?

I doubt the Yankees will be "shiftless in Baltimore" tonight, so get ready for more of the same. All I'll be doing is shaking my head.


Kellia Ramares-Watson said...

Remember a few years ago, everyone talked about the big shift teams put on David Ortiz? That was because everyone knew that when David hits it on the ground, he hits it to the right side. So the third baseman played short, near 2nd base and the 2nd baseman played in short right center field. The left side of the diamond was wide open.

Of course, everyone knows that a swing adjustment will defeat a shift. But it is way easier said than done. Baseball players are creatures of habit. And they would rather try to force a hit through a shift, than change their swing, especially if they are power hitters like Texeira, Rodriguez, and Ortiz. Homers defeat shifts very nicely and these guys aren't going to mess with their homer swings for the sake of a single.

Though I must admit, I'd love to see Ortiz bunt down the third base line. Tee-Hee

Bernadette Pasley said...

Thanks, Kellia. Being "creatures of habit" sure makes these guys look like idiots, though!