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Pirates using shifts...

Posted: 07/03/2013 1:00 PM

Pirates using shifts... 


The Pirates have used the most defensive shifts in baseball so far this season, and more shifts in the first half of 2013 than in the previous two seasons combined.

This has lead to the team being ranked first in defensive efficiency in all of the league, while their minor league affiliates are all ranked in the top 5 in their respective leagues (Indy #1 and Altoona #2).  So this is an organizational wide change, the Pirates were just the last to fully adopt it (I wonder why).  The Pirates hired a "stat geek" to be their director of systems development, and another to do quantitative analysis.  These two are behind the defensive system of the best defensive team in baseball. 

This was long overdue and I thought I would give Dan Fox and Mike Fitzgerald their kudos, as I just read two separate articles on the matter.  These shifts combined with Huntington's ability to get ahold of extreme ground ball pitchers (the Pirates have the highest ground ball % in baseball) are the main reason for the Pirates having the best record in baseball. 

So for all of you that were stubbornly arguing with me and Katoy the last couple seasons when we were complaining that we weren't shifting enough (citing the Rays), the proof is in the pudding.  We finally delved into this realm of statistical analysis and shifting defenses and are now doing it better than anyone in baseball, and we are where we are in large part because of this



http://www.bostonglobe.com/met...NrmJ/story.html

http://www.piratesprospects.co...-best-team.html
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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:05 PM

RE: Pirates using shifts... 


It's good that Hurdle started listening to Dan Fox. Things were not very pleasant between them last year as Fox was pretty upset because Hurdle pretty much ignored this stuff. I'll give Hurdle credit for bending on this and finally implementing it into the Pirates game. It's a huge reason why we've been this good. It gives me some hope that perhaps Hurdle has lost a lot of his stubborn mentality and the kids will get a shot later on this season when we will need to rely on them.
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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:11 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 


I'll second that, Hurdle's willingness to be opened minded more this season on certain things has been refreshing, hopefully he keeps it up and relies on younger guys (Black, Welker, numerous AAA position players) when they are needed. 

So to recap.  He quit bunting all the time, doesn't steal nearly as much, lets the "stat geeks" run the defensive shifts, and has used more younger guys.  Kudos Clint.  There are still some glaring issues, but you can't fix his deficiencies over night lol.  None of those things were ever present with the Rockies or his first two years here, glad he is finally listening to guys like Fox or Huntington.  Maybe my conclusion a month or so ago that he was given an ultimatum might have had some legs to it.  His job wasn't safe, so he changed his ways to try to keep it and win.  Either way, good job Clint, only a few more changes to go.

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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:22 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



cferrel3 wrote:

I'll second that, Hurdle's willingness to be opened minded more this season on certain things has been refreshing, hopefully he keeps it up and relies on younger guys (Black, Welker, numerous AAA position players) when they are needed. 

So to recap.  He quit bunting all the time, doesn't steal nearly as much, lets the "stat geeks" run the defensive shifts, and has used more younger guys.  Kudos Clint.  There are still some glaring issues, but you can't fix his deficiencies over night lol.  None of those things were ever present with the Rockies or his first two years here, glad he is finally listening to guys like Fox or Huntington.  Maybe my conclusion a month or so ago that he was given an ultimatum might have had some legs to it.  His job wasn't safe, so he changed his ways to try to keep it and win.  Either way, good job Clint, only a few more changes to go.

Dramatic shifts seem to be baseball wide this year - not just the Pirates.  It is amazing more players can't do what Ryan Howard did last night - just hitting a ground ball between 3B and SS, that Alvarez had to backhand and turned into a very easy single.

One area I'd like to see the Pirates improve on is hitting the ball to the appropriate spot on the field.  Example - if Marte has the green light to steal, Martin shouldn't be trying to hit the ball us the middle (which turned into a riduculously easy double play in the 1st inning last night).  I've also seen McCutchen ground out to 3B with guys on 1st and 2nd - this is a Cardinal sin in softball.  I'd like to think they know where they are hitting the ball and can adjust as opposed to letting the pitcher dictate where they hit the ball.  Lefties (Alvarez, Walker, Snider, etc) pulling outside pitches and grounding out to 2B happens way to often too.  You'd like to think a major leaguer would know to hit that ball the other way or up the middle (whatever is best for the situation).  Every team struggles with these problems - not just the Pirates - but this stuff which was common sense 25 years ago is now seemingly impossible to execute.

Last edited 07/03/2013 1:25 PM by Sangue

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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:25 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 


Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

___________

 

  

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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:32 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



gr1111 wrote: Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

I served with Katoy. I knew Katoy. Katoy was a friend of  mine. Mister, you're no Katoy.

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Posted: 07/03/2013 1:39 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



Sangue wrote:
gr1111 wrote: Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

I served with Katoy. I knew Katoy. Katoy was a friend of  mine. Mister, you're no Katoy.




I'll second that.

Actually I was referring to cferrel.  I'll second that one too.

___________

 

  

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Posted: 07/03/2013 2:13 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 




---------------------------------------------
--- gr1111 wrote:

Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

---------------------------------------------

Way to hijack another thread gr111, please stick to baseball discussions.

1. I never said he would be fired mid-May, said he would if the team continued to play poorly.

2. I was exactly right about the shifts and the way the team needed to play to win. It is as if Hurdle is listening to me on some fronts lol.
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Posted: 07/03/2013 2:27 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



cferrel3 wrote:

---------------------------------------------
--- gr1111 wrote:

Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

---------------------------------------------

Way to hijack another thread gr111, please stick to baseball discussions.

1. I never said he would be fired mid-May, said he would if the team continued to play poorly.

2. I was exactly right about the shifts and the way the team needed to play to win. It is as if Hurdle is listening to me on some fronts lol.


If that is how you remember it, fine.

___________

 

  

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Posted: 07/03/2013 3:12 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 


Since we have the best record in baseball, it's now time for passive aggressive shots at Hurdle.  Awesome.
"I originally said he would get fired in mid-May after a poor start, but honestly, he might not make it to May at this rate." A 'professional' opinion of Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle 4/8/13
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Posted: 07/03/2013 3:14 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



gr1111 wrote:
cferrel3 wrote:

---------------------------------------------
--- gr1111 wrote:

Patting yourself on the back after having been dead wrong.  Kudos.

Is it mid-May yet?

---------------------------------------------

Way to hijack another thread gr111, please stick to baseball discussions.

1. I never said he would be fired mid-May, said he would if the team continued to play poorly.

2. I was exactly right about the shifts and the way the team needed to play to win. It is as if Hurdle is listening to me on some fronts lol.


If that is how you remember it, fine.

That is HOW IT WENT, i'm not twisting anything.  You are.  Go back and look up my posts if you want, and you care that much.  STOP LYING.
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Posted: 07/03/2013 3:50 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 


“We have to continually be different, because our dollars aren’t as good as other teams,” said Fitzgerald. “We knew what we had in Martin defensively. We didn’t realize all of the other intangibles that he brings, so he has been more than worth the price.”

Wow, a math guy talking about intangibles
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Posted: 07/03/2013 4:03 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 


Dramatic shifts seem to be baseball wide this year - not just the Pirates.  It is amazing more players can't do what Ryan Howard did last night - just hitting a ground ball between 3B and SS, that Alvarez had to backhand and turned into a very easy single.

One area I'd like to see the Pirates improve on is hitting the ball to the appropriate spot on the field.  Example - if Marte has the green light to steal, Martin shouldn't be trying to hit the ball us the middle (which turned into a riduculously easy double play in the 1st inning last night).  I've also seen McCutchen ground out to 3B with guys on 1st and 2nd - this is a Cardinal sin in softball.  I'd like to think they know where they are hitting the ball and can adjust as opposed to letting the pitcher dictate where they hit the ball.  Lefties (Alvarez, Walker, Snider, etc) pulling outside pitches and grounding out to 2B happens way to often too.  You'd like to think a major leaguer would know to hit that ball the other way or up the middle (whatever is best for the situation).  Every team struggles with these problems - not just the Pirates - but this stuff which was common sense 25 years ago is now seemingly impossible to execute.


Amen, brother, amen. 


This is a perfect summary of the elements of the so-called "old school" that should NOT have been discarded with the seeming "sabremetric revolution".  FWIW, I have always personally split the difference where sabremetrics are concerned.  I never said there was no truth to that discipline, only that 1) there are other ways, means and methods of evaluating baseball performance that are also valid, 2) that sabremetric extremism can and too often does distort the way the game is viewed, played, and managed, that 3) sabremetric extremism is also invalid from a philosophical point of view because it is part of the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdum, and 4) that the old school did know some things, and some of their knowledge stands the test of both time AND new school / sabremetric analysis---Sangue's post being an excellent case in point.


I will add that I will never believe that the stolen base should be denigrated the way nearly all saber-heads do.  No way, no how.  Just from playing and watching the game for decades, I can tell you for a fact that there are few things more disruptive or disheartening to a defense than a determined and aggressive running game.  A team that can force the action with the stolen base can score runs even without hitting the ball particularly well.  I agree 100% with Hurdle's desire to force the action; unfortunately, this Pirates team really only has two players who can legitimately run in McCutchen and Marte (well, maybe 3 if you count Presley when he's here, but he's a sizable notch below the other 2 guys).  And McCutchen, as has been well documented, simply does not appear to be interested in becoming an elite basestealer despite having the ability to do so. 


Anyway, sabremetrics devotees generally agree that a basestealer must have an 80% or better success rate in order to contribute to a team's offense.  I disagree.  I'm going to say that a percentage anywhere north of 70% is going to cause more problems for the opposition than it causes for itself--provided the whole team is committed to stealing and to all around aggressive baserunning.  Granted, there's not a whole lot of difference between 70 and 80%.  But remember than even 70% success still means you're succeeding more than twice as often as you're failing to steal a base, and we're not even talking yet about the pressure placed on opposing pitchers and defense by a determined running game. 

Last edited 07/03/2013 4:06 PM by williamjpellas

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Posted: 07/03/2013 8:02 PM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



GhostOfPBG wrote: Since we have the best record in baseball, it's now time for passive aggressive shots at Hurdle.  Awesome.

Ghost, no passive aggressive shots for me, you know how I feel.  And I didn't take shots at Hurdle other than him taking a tad too long to use the system.  Most of my post was kudos to the guy, and I sincerely mean that.  I have said more positive things about Hurdle in the last couple months than the last two years combined because he deserves them.  There are definitely still things I disagree with, but the fact that he has bunted less, run into less outs, used the shifts, etc...he deserves credit and I feel I just gave him that.  I don't hate Hurdle and am mad that I have a stigma that I do hate him.  I've expressed how I feel multiple times about him, and I feel it is a valid assessment.  He is improving and I hope he continues to do so, I want him to.  He is less stubborn this year, so I feel he can still fix his last few holes.  But, if you think I feel differently, I can't do anything about it.
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Posted: 07/04/2013 5:35 AM

Re: Pirates using shifts... 



cferrel3 wrote:
GhostOfPBG wrote: Since we have the best record in baseball, it's now time for passive aggressive shots at Hurdle.  Awesome.

Ghost, no passive aggressive shots for me, you know how I feel.  And I didn't take shots at Hurdle other than him taking a tad too long to use the system.  Most of my post was kudos to the guy, and I sincerely mean that.  I have said more positive things about Hurdle in the last couple months than the last two years combined because he deserves them.  There are definitely still things I disagree with, but the fact that he has bunted less, run into less outs, used the shifts, etc...he deserves credit and I feel I just gave him that.  I don't hate Hurdle and am mad that I have a stigma that I do hate him.  I've expressed how I feel multiple times about him, and I feel it is a valid assessment.  He is improving and I hope he continues to do so, I want him to.  He is less stubborn this year, so I feel he can still fix his last few holes.  But, if you think I feel differently, I can't do anything about it.
Your initial post was dripping with "I was right and Hurdle was wrong and if he had just listened to me over the last few years, we'd have been much further along by now.  But better late than never."  That's essentially what you said.

You even went as far as to say that you may have been right about Hurdle being given an ultimatum to take your advice or else he's fired.  (Obviously not "your" advice, but you know what I mean)

I know how you feel about Hurdle, and that's fine.  You don't have to like every player or manager on your favorite team.  It just gets tiring coming to this board day after day and seeing the manager of the best team we've had in almost a quarter century get ripped daily because the 25th man sucks, or because maybe he used his closer when he might have been able to get by with Wilson or Watson.

I've seen guys come here and say Hurdle can't win a world series but then turnaround talking about the Rays and say that anybody who can get into the playoffs is a contender.  It defies logic at this point.  People just need something to complain about.  I'm probably going to stop coming to this site if/when the Pirates start coming back to earth because the Hurdle bashing will be unbearable, even if it's not his fault.
"I originally said he would get fired in mid-May after a poor start, but honestly, he might not make it to May at this rate." A 'professional' opinion of Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle 4/8/13
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