When Not To Shift

This will be brief, because I have a short attention span and there’s a blue car driving down the street.  During last night’s game the Padres provided an example suitable for framing on when not to shift.

Scenario:  Top third, 1-0 Padres, Chris Owings at second, AJ Pollock at first.  Two outs.  Tyson Ross delivers ball three to David Peralta, running the count full.  As you know, when the next pitch is delivered the runners will be going.  San Diego knows this too and plays more behind the runners than usual.  So much so, they don’t see a difference between playing BEHIND the runners, and shifting their infield defense like the BASES are EMPTY.

So Clint Barmes (SS) moves to the first base side of second, and Will Middlebrooks (3B) moves to the normal shortstop position.  And there is third base.  Just sitting there, like a box of Thin Mints – unguarded and inviting.

Owings quickly realizes he can beat Middlebrooks to third, so with Ross LOOKING at him, he takes off.  Tyson steps off the rubber and fakes a throw, which is good because the only person in position to catch it and make a play is D-Backs 3B Coach Andy Green.  Pretty sure he would not have applied a tag on Owings.

Moving your defenders around to maximize the odds of recording an out is a strategy I support and endorse.  Shifting your defense, then hanging a big neon sign over third base saying ‘Take Me! I’m Free!!’ is, shall we say, not optimal.

We need a little more situational awareness there, Padres On-Field Brain Trust.

(Sadly, no photos or video exist of this play; at least, accessible to me in a post-able format.)

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  • I witnessed this in-person last night. It was incredibly dumb.

  • ballybunion

    Well, there was a case of a Chinese general who had 18 men to defend a city, with a large army due to arrive. He told his men to throw open all the gates and go hide, and he stood over the open main gate playing a flute. When the attacking army arrived, the opposing general assumed it was a trap, and withdrew. That must be the strategy the Padres were using. It didn’t work because Owings isn’t suspicious enough to be a Chinese general.