Category: Fielding

Should Your Team Be Shifting More?

Baseball teams have been shifting defensively forever. Most of us think of the modern idea of a defensive infield shift started with Lou Boudreau and what became known as the “William’s Shift” in 1946.

This photo diagram shows the positions of the Cleveland infield and outfield in the so-called “Cleveland Shift” defense against Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox during the game in Boston. This photo was made after Williams had found a chink in the defense and slapped one to the left for a single.

The first time Williams came up against this shift, he hit the ball right to Boudreau himself, standing directly between first and second base.

From that moment on, teams shifted on Williams for the rest of his career. The shift was so common that Williams once estimated it lopped about 15 points off of his lifetime batting average, and he wasn’t far off: his career splits before and after that season showed a difference of 16 points.

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