St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals refusal to embrace the shift may be hurting them
Teams have been employing shifts more and more as a tactic to manipulate and neutralize certain hitters, especially against lefties. The St. Louis Cardinals have not been one of those teams.
This trend is something that has just begun developing this year with teams shifting 17.3% of the time on average in 2018, compared to just 12.1% in 2017. If you really think about it, it isn’t surprising that the St. Louis Cardinals, a team who takes great pride in their tradition, would be skeptical to embrace such a radical scheme.
On top of that, it seems like the extremities of hitters are being cut down over the past few years despite teams suddenly acting to stop them. If anything, this year is the most diverse foul line to foul line season that we have seen in recent years.
|Highest Pull%||# of ≥ 60% Pull%||# of ≥ 50% Pull%||# of ≥ 45% Pull%||Highest Opp %||# of ≥ 40% Opp%||# of ≥ 30% Opp%||# of ≥ 25% Opp%|
Despite what appears to be a wider range of average spray charts, teams are still shifting towards specific tendencies a large amount, and with great success. While this may seem counter intuitive, it only looks that way in a certain frame of thinking.
If the perspective is that defenses are reacting to a player, then it is counterproductive to shift more. However, defenses have actually used shifts towards a player’s tendencies in order to force them to hit away from them.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this conundrum.