Earlier this winter, we dug into the upcoming positioning ban and used Statcast data to try to identify the hitters who could benefit most from the new rule. It’s complicated. The main reasons are that teams are still able to position themselves intelligently within the rules, they don’t know if or how certain hitters will change their approach against different defenses, and that hitters improve naturally. or may decline. –but it’s a good surrogate given what we know. You can read how the whole thing worked here.
Given our data, Corey Seager looks like the most profitable hitter, potentially bringing back 20 hits. After digging deep into Seager, I wanted to know more. He’s not the only one to see the defense change in 2023, right? So who else is at the top of the list?
(Players are lined up by the hit they are most likely to lose to the shift using the process outlined here.)
Kyle Schwarber (Phillies LF/DH)
+12 Potential Hit Acquisition / Shift Rate 91%
Great, great start. Schwarber is left-handed, not very fast, and shifts quite a bit. He’s exactly the kind of hitter that should be at or near the top of a list like this, and it gives us confidence that we’re finding something real. Mainly comes down to contact. Because although the number of at-bats was about the same, Schwalber struck out 97 more times and hit fewer balls to the shifted defense.
Put another way, using the same method as Seager’s, only 27% of Schwarber’s at-bats, including strikeouts, bases, home runs, and removing balls hit deep enough that shifting doesn’t matter, actually It could have ended with a batted ball. Being affected by Shift greatly reduces his losses to defense.
Still, he hits the ball so hard that there are quite a few plays like this. He hits at 109.3 mph, but hits right to a shifted second baseman in short right field. Or almost certainly he will hit in 2023.
Or this is a 55% chance unless the fielder stands exactly where Cesar Hernández was and where he won based on the strength, height and horizontal angle with which he hit. hit with . We cannot stand in 2023. (Well, second baseman can’t. Outfielders may still be there, if the team wants to be adventurous. )
In the end, Schwalber hit so many strikeouts (200) and home runs (46) that he was never deprived of the raw hit count that Seager could have been. , a similar batting average would not have been seen. rebound. That said, his expected 12 additional singles aren’t for nothing.
Carlos Santana (Pirates 1B/DH)
+12 Potential Hit Gain / 98% Shift Rate (LHB); 28% (right side)
The Pirates took particular note of this aspect when they signed him, so he better be here. Cherrington said. Like Schwarber, this is exactly the kind of player you’d expect.
For years, the Santana has been a consistent hitting machine in some excellent Cleveland lineups. Santana turned 37 in April and is still in plate discipline, but his maximum exit speed has been steadily declining since 2018. .
To some extent, it can be both. You don’t usually regain your high-end exit speeds with age.But in the last three years he’s out of 750 at-bats, he’s of In-play ball batting averages are the lowest, and this should have at least a little effect on shifting.
Interestingly, according to our numbers, he loses 11 potential hits to shift as a left-hander and 1 as a right-hander. That’s right: right-handers shift much less, but they’re still aware of it, and it can affect them, too.
Tyrone Taylor (Brewers OF)
+10 Potential Hit Acquisition / 43% Shift Rate
Yes, right-handed bats, and yes, over many left-handed hitters who seem to have gone into shift more often. We’re a little surprised by this, but it all makes sense that Seger, Schwarber and Santana are in the top three. It’s up to us to figure out what happened here. After all, it’s not at all difficult to explain.
The starting point is that Taylor has shifted 43% of his time last year. Look what happened.
That’s a big gap.Shift worked well for Taylor very Take a look at his spray chart and you’ll see why. See where the ball you hit is going.
Last year, when he put the ball on the ground, he pulled it 63% of the time. This is one of his top 10 points in baseball. So he made a lot of plays like this:
Again, teams will be able to position themselves within the new rules, but they will no longer have three infielders to the left of second base based on how Taylor hits in 2022. is something he can look forward to.
There are many names with +9 hits and ties, so let’s put them together.
Jesús Sanchez (Marlins OF)
+9 Potential Hit Acquisition / Shift Rate 50%
A 50% shift rate makes it easy to split things in half. Sanchez had a .395 BABIP against standard defense and a .180 against shifted defense. This is a huge difference. Now: Neither is “real”, and it’s fair to say that he’s probably back to normal on both ends regardless of the rule change.
Carson Kelly (D-backs C)
Gain +9 Potential Hit / 35% Shift Chance
That’s not why his OPS dropped by 137 points. At least not more than the fact that he simply soured contact in a season interrupted by oblique strain. But he may have liked some of these.
Salvador Perez (Royals C)
+9 Potential Hit Acquisition / Shift Rate 76%
You’re surprised by this, and we’re a little surprised too. But Perez faces a change in his three-quarters of his at-bats in 2022 and tripled his 18-year-old, so the team will obviously have more to do, including depriving him of hits. I felt it was worth doing more and more. His BABIP last year put him 74 points higher against standard defense than against Shift.
Rowdy Tellez (Brewers 1B/DH)
+8 Potential Hit Acquisition / Shift Rate 78%
This is easy. Because Tellez is easy. 53 batters hit 200 or more pitches in shifts. Telles went on the opposite field, lower than all the others. That’s a lot of balls hitting its teeth.
Abraham Toro (Brewers INF)
+8 Potential Hit Acquisition / 77% Shift Rate (LHB); 8% (right side)
Toro, who was traded from Seattle earlier this month, was actually deprived of nine potential hits as a left-handed hitter, but expected to lose one as a right-handed hitter, for a total of eight hits.
Andrew McCutchen (free agency OF)
+8 Potential Hit Acquisition / Shift Rate 49%
This may have been a fluke of the year. From 2019-21, McCutchen actually had his BABIP higher for shifts than no shifts. But in 2018, while his performance on standard defense skyrocketed, his job on the shift fell apart, while he turned 36 in October, so it’s a It is difficult to tell whether is an outlier or the new normal.
Alex Bregman (Astros 3B)
+8 potential hit gain / 58% shift rate
Interestingly, it nearly doubled to 58% in 2022 after shifting about 30% annually over three years. Nearly 80% of his slugging was pulled, so it’s not hard to see as a reaction to how much he sold out to draw power. No wonder the team put him three on the left.
The change has long had its proponents and critics, but many of them come down to a simple question. Where do you think this guy will hit the ball?
What about Jordan Alvarez or Max Kepler? Anthony Rizzo? where is freddie freeman we too. Follow up by looking at the players you expect to be most impacted… which may not actually be the case.