2023 will see an end to the infield shift, and as STB so astutely commented, LAD player personnel chiefs will be scouring their scouting regiment to determine if the players they now have are the best players in their organization to face this change in strategy.
No team shifted more than the Dodgers. Three teams shifted at least 50%, while another 3 shifted 40% to 50%. That is 26% of the teams that shifted less than 40%. The top 7 teams that utilized the shift most during 2022.
- LAD – 52.1
- Houston – 50.4
- Toronto – 50.3
- Seattle – 45.3
- Minnesota – 43.9
- Miami – 43.9
- White Sox – 38.4
Pardon the technical, but if could not be helped since this is just a sliver of what the Dodgers player personnel people will be reviewing.
A further drill down on those 7 teams:
Here is the league average:
If you want to see all of the teams:
Theo Epstein commented:
“And I think fans will cherish the moments, absent the extreme defensive shifts, when games are decided not by whether their team’s infield is positioned by the perfect algorithm, but by whether their team second baseman can range to make an athletic dive and play with everything on the line.”
I cannot argue with that sentimentality.
A consensus of baseball executives that were interviewed by The Athletic are going through their own machinations about how to evaluate middle infielders. Per The Athletic article:
Infielders with more range who can make up some of the ground that used to be covered by the shift could be newly coveted. But it could be more difficult to evaluate the future contributions of a middle infielder if that infielder is coming from a team that heavily shifted in recent years.
“Can’t really do that,” Seattle PBO, Jerry Dipoto said. “But we can, through Statcast data, get a pretty good idea of what that player’s natural range is.”
“You see how guys move, you see their reaction time, you see their sprint speed. I think we can make the adjustments.”
Dodgers Outs Above Average (OAA) with range information per Statcast (Baseball Savant).
Gavin Lux – 2B – Overall OAA 3
- Coming In: 3
- To Player’s Right: 2
- To Player’s Left: 0
- Going Back: -2
- Success Rate: 78%
- Expected Success Rate: 77%
- Difference: 1%
Trea Turner – SS – Overall OAA 0
- Coming In: 0
- To Player’s Right: -1
- To Player’s Left: 0
- Going Back: 1
- Success Rate: 76%
- Expected Success Rate: 76%
Max Muncy – 3B – Overall OAA -2
- Coming In: -7
- To Player’s Right: 0
- To Player’s Left: 4
- Going Back: 0
- Success Rate: 73%
- Expected Success Rate: 74%
- Difference: -1%
Justin Turner – 3B – Overall OAA -2
- Coming In: -2
- To Player’s Right: -1
- To Player’s Left: 3
- Going Back: -2
- Success Rate: 74%
- Expected Success Rate: 75%
- Difference: -1%
FanGraphs also measures defense. They utilize a rating of UZR.
- Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)is one of the most widely used, publicly available defensive statistics. UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof). They use a composite of the following metrics.
I will identify where the Dodgers land for these metrics compared to the other teams, for but I have also provided a link to where you can find more complete information.
- Range Runs (RngR)– Is the player an Ozzie Smith or an Adam Dunn? Do they get to more balls than average or not?
- Error Runs (ErrR)– Does the player commit more or fewer errors compared with a league-average player at their position?
- Double-Play Runs (DPR)– The amount of runs above average an infielder is by turning double-plays.
- Outfield Arm Runs (ARM)– The amount of runs above average an outfielder saves with their arm by preventing runners from advancing.
I used a filter of 300 innings :
Gavin Lux – 2B UZR
While Gavin was #40 with an -2.7 UZR, it was his -4.1 ErrR that brought him way down. Compared to the league average 2B, Gavin commits more errors. What will this look like a SS.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – #13 with +3
Trea Turner – SS UZR
Trea was #26 overall in UZR with a -0.7. He was overall #2 in range (2.8), but fell apart with another -4.3 in ErrR (#33).
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – #21 with -1
Justin Turner – 3B UZR
JT was #33 overall in UZR with a -2.1. He was a plus for DPR and RngR, but again it was the ErrR of -2.7 that brought his overall UZR down.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – #21 with +1
Max Muncy – 3B UZR
Max was #41 overall in UZR with a -4.3. He held his own in DPR and RngR, but a -4.3 ErrR brought down his overall UZR score.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – #9 with +7
There is not a star defender in any of the 2022 non 1B infielders. All of them were extremely error prone. As a team, the Dodgers were #30 in team ErrR. The team ErrR is bad, but it would have been worse had the OF metrics not been included. The LAD OF metrics are fairly good.
Neither Michael Busch nor Miguel Vargas are going to improve the infield defensive metrics. Jacob Amaya should improve the metrics, but I am not sure that he will get the chance because his offense may not give him that chance.
The Dodgers saved a lot of runs because of their utilization of the shift. Now that the shift is going away, will AF/BG look for adjustments?
This is going to be an interesting Winter.
For a more detailed discussion on the shift:
I saw an interview that Andrew did with Brian Kenny on mlb tv and, reading between the lines, I got the feeling that he plans to bring back Belli but isn’t counting on Trea to be around next year.
I could be wrong on both counts, but that’s just the feeling I got from the interview.
He could very well non-tender Cody and hope to negotiate a lesser salary, possibly with some built in incentives.
We’ll know part of that answer tomorrow (Thurs.).
I have a feeling that the Dodgers will be bringing back Belli. I do not know if it will be through arbitration or non-tender and re-negotiate. With the dearth of CF available, Belli may in fact be the best one. Defense and speed are going to be key skill elements going forward, and Belli has that. If he can generate a 105 OPS+ he would be gold.
I would love to see Trea Turner back with LAD, but I am not all that confident. If Philadelphia wants him, I think that is where he goes. He is not stupid. His price escalates as long as the Dodgers are interested, and he will play up how much he likes LA to move that price up. Dombrowski will pay.
Bellinger is at the point in his career where he should be cashing in on one of those $300 million contracts. It’s my opinion the reason he’s not is his own doing. Yes he had an injury, but it certainly wasn’t career ending. I’m hoping he’s doing a deep dive into analysis and can turn it around before it is indeed too late. Do I believe he will? I have my doubts.
Free-agent left-hander Clayton Kershaw is nearing a one-year deal to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a source told The Athletic.
Is that the shift prevention pie that will be used by MLB? If so, I have a couple of questions.
For a few years now it’s been my opinion the Dodgers don’t put a lot of emphasis on fielding defense. I’ve watched nearly every game and I’ve seen some lazy habits. They often look like they’re standing around thinking about their last, or their next, at bat. I think it’s obvious Dodgers built their team on offense and pitching.
In college I did a bio-mechanical analysis of a baseball swing. It was a requirement for an upper division kinesiology class. It was an eye opener for me. I read several classmates reports too, tennis, the forward pass, swimming, jump shot in basketball. They were fun reads for me. We then discussed training methods to develop the muscle group movements of each sport. The only sports I played competitively, and intended to coach, was football and baseball. I devoured those. That was nearly 50 years ago. Things no doubt have changed. The reason I bring this up is I have been looking for articles on modern training methods, and also what scouts look for in young players. There appears to be consensus on the Top 10 or so prospects, but where we pick there has to be a good eye and lot of science involved. I would want to know why we missed on Peña and Álvarez. The closest I’ve come to finding what I’m looking for is at Driveline and fangraphs. Maybe you guys can help me with this.
There’s a decided reason not to share what teams and their scouts are looking for.
additionally, the tools they use to evaluate may be proprietary.
don’t mean to be a downer!
The Athletic article said as much, There were not many team executives who were willing to go on record for the article. But I do not think it is a stretch that with the ban in the shift, bigger bases, and the limited throw overs to1B that the game is evolving back to one that featured defense and speed, And the scouting will be different. How different? The Dodgers led all of MLB in shifts, now what?
Another uninformed opinion on Kasten’s “youth” comment. This one from Dodgers Digest:
Uninformed, or just a different opinion than from yours?
What does one have to do with the other?
I’m not sure if there’s even an opinion in it. It’s like you could look at it this way or that way. That said, I thought it was pretty good. I do think cost-certainty is in play here.
Uniformed because it’s some random fan. Nothing more or less.
FWIW, I think there’s great discourse in the comments to that article. They to, for the record are also uninformed, so it could drive anyone batty.
I am trying to make sure that I use your words. You wrote, “Another uninformed opinion on Kasten’s “youth” comment”. First you said it was an opinion, and now you are saying that you are not sure that there is an opinion.
Uninformed – “not having or showing awareness or understanding of the facts.”
Welcome to the world of baseball blogs.
Why did you feel it necessary to add “uninformed”? Since none of AF nor Brandon Gomes nor Stan Kasten, nor Mark Walter are going to provide specifics to any LAD plans, until they are consummated, all comments are then by definition uninformed. I can live with that. I know I am not an insider.
However, I am sure pleased that the internet is a venue for those of us who love to write about conjecture. MLBTR is an excellent source for the news. That would be boring if that was all that they provided. They are just about to publish their uninformed annual Top 50 FA prospects with speculation on the contract amount and where they will play next year. They even have a contest for their uninformed audience of commenters to participate in a contest. I participated a couple years back and did okay. I guess the winner that year was more informed than me or MLBTR.
Keith Law and Kiley McDaniel have already published their uninformed top FA lists.
I go off the 2nd definition of uninformed:
not having or based upon information or awareness
FTR, I really like and and consider Keith Law and Kiley to be quite highly informed. As they have information and awareness that we (and that the person who wrote that article (which again I LIKE)) do not.
I felt it necessary because it is uninformed and it doesn’t add any information. It’s just opinion or fan-splaining.
There is a difference between ‘uninformed’ and ‘uniformed’. I believe that is what Jeff was questioning.
Yes, meant uninformed in my response.
Yusniel Diaz has been outrighted by Baltimore and is eligible to turn the MiLB assignment down or select FA. He sure has fallen down that prospect list after being the primary target in the Manny Machado trade with LAD in 2018.
On Wednesday, Andy Pages hit a 2-run HR in the 8th inning to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead for his Glendale Desert Dogs AFL team. He hit a run scoring single later in the same inning. The Desert Dogs went on to beat the Mesa Solar Sox 10-4. With the win, Glendale clinched a spot in the playoff play-in game for Friday. The winner of that game will play the Surprise Saguaros in the Championship game on Saturday.
Pages is in Arizona to work on his plate discipline, and it seems to be working. He is hitting a robust .296/.398/.506/.904 with 5 HRs and 14 RBIs in 22 AFL games. The primary positive is that he has struck out only 12 times in 98 PA (12.2%) compared to 24.5% in AA. He has 9 walks.
Pages may have turned a corner with his plate discipline in the AFL. He already possesses a ML arm in the OF and has excellent OF instincts. He is projected to be at least an average defender. He works very hard. He has huge raw power. He will be protected and added to the 40 man roster on November 15, and will be a candidate to get MLB exposure next season. How much will depend on the LF and CF play on next year’s team.
Pages turns 22 in December.
Bums has been cajoling the Dodgers to trade for Mitch Haniger for several years now. Haniger is a FA and will not get a QO from Seattle. Bums, maybe this is the year.
Nick Anderson is a relief pitcher the Dodgers were very high on when he was with Miami. I know I wrote that the Dodgers should consider trading for him when he was in the Twins organization. He was traded by Minnesota to Miami in November 2018, and then traded to Tampa Bay in July 2019. He went from unhittable to an injury prone RHRP. He was outrighted by Tampa Bay, passed through waivers, and is now a FA. He looks like the perfect AF target for career resurrection. He is eligible for arbitration. I would like to see AF/BG offer him a MiLB contract with a ST invite and a legit shot at making the 26-man. He is a 32 year old reliever who if he finds his way back with Mark Prior tutelage, could be a huge late inning high leverage candidate.
Evan Longoria will not be getting a QO from SF. I do not expect AF to consider him, but this could be the end of a very nice career for AF’s very 1st draft pick. Longoria is one of those I love to root for, even as a SF Giant.
It is reported that Taijuan Walker is not going to get a QO from NYM which will make him more attractive to teams. Walker will be 30 next season and has had back to back 159 and 157.1 IP seasons. Last year he had a very respectable ERA of 3.49 in 29 starts.
I first was attracted to Haniger because he offered the Dodgers a righty bat. His injury set him back for several years. He would make a good platoon with Joc in LF. The only way Haniger or Joc get a ticket to the Dodgers is if Bellinger is not retained and probably Outman and Thompson are traded.
I also wanted Chapman and Torres.
Badger, you asked why would the Dodgers move a Gold Glove right fielder to second base. My answer would be only because they could build a better lineup if they added outfielders instead of infielders such as Trea or Correa. Betts would have been Boston’s second baseman if it weren’t for Pedroia. RF was plan B.
Interesting in the context of the Bellinger question:
Rays decline $13M option to Kevin Kiermaier. Longtime Ray is one of best defensive CF in game. Now a free agent.
And the QO list:
– Aaron Judge
– Trea Turner
– Xander Bogaerts
– Jacob DeGrom
– Dansby Swanson
– Carlos Rodón
– Brandon Nimmo
– Willson Contreras
– Chris Bassitt
– Anthony Rizzo
– Tyler Anderson
– Martín Perez
– Joc Pederson
– Nathan Eovaldi
I’m not surprised that the Giants want to keep Joc but I’m astonished that they’re willing to pay him almost 20 mil to do so.
Supposedly the Dodgers and Anderson are talking a multi year deal but the QO buys both sides some time to do that.
There are a couple that surprise me. Chris Bassitt, Joc, and Nathan Eovaldi. I guess the benefit of a pick between the 4th and 5th rounds was not enough to have the Dodgers give a QO to Kershaw. If they gave him one, he could have turned it down and negotiate with both LAD and Texas. The difference is that if he chooses Texas, the Dodgers get nothing in return. Plus if he does sign with Texas, the Dodgers play the Rangers in Texas next year, so he will not get to pitch in Dodger Stadium. Oh well, here is hoping that the plan works for the Dodgers to sign Kershaw at least one more year.
There are players that we worry about on every defensive chance they get and there are players that look smooth and confident, make the plays they can get to, and throw accurately and strongly to the right base. That last skill would leave out Juan Pierre.
There are players with lots of speed but don’t take great routes, or don’t come in or go back well. There are players that make too many errors on routine plays.
There are players that are all defense and little offense like Kiermere.
The shift allowed slower players who could hit get into lineups. I don’t know where the line will be drawn when choosing between range and offense but I do know that speed and range alone does not make a good defensive player and lack of speed alone does not make a bad defensive player.
I like pitching and defense but the Dodger team that had Izturis and Alex Cora as middle infielders was so boring that the only entertainment that was provided was by a defensive play by one of those two players.
I ask the Dodgers to entertain me and I want that entertainment to be throughout the lineup while making 99% of the defensive plays that have a high probability of being made. Wins are entertaining so I’ll throw that in as well.
I want to be entertained for months as priority one and then for weeks for priority two.
Dodgers decline JT option.
That doesn’t mean he can’t sign at a lower figure but it does mean he can now negotiate with all 30 teams.
The Dodgers are now down to 33 or 34 on the 40 man (depending on Bauer appeal). Plenty of room now for that youth movement. 40 man gets set on Tuesday.
Good point. It’s gonna mostly be filled with the Rule Vers. Right?
Two of those spots need to be reserved for Anderson and Kershaw (or another front line starter).
Then they need to save space for a shortstop (I’m assuming it won’t be Lux or Amaya).
That brings it to 36 or 37.
If they are still Dodger property next week Cartaya, Busch, Pages and Ramos will be added to the 40-man. That’s 40 or 41 without even considering the signing of a free agent (other than a shortstop).
I think we’ll see some trades in the next few days that clear more space off the 40-man roster.
I’m guessing these are the most likely to be moved in a trade to create space (bringing back a younger, non 40-man player) as opposed to being included in a trade meant to bring back a player who would be included on the 40-man roster.
Vivas/Leonard (one, but not both)
Amaya (if we sign or trade for a long term shortstop in the next few days)
Bellinger would create another space if non-tendered.
Mookie Betts and Trea Turner won Silver Slugger awards. It was Mookie’s 5th and Trea’s 1st. I saw that Juan Soto was also an SS award winner and I was wondering…how? Soto was #2 in NL OF OPS behind Mookie. There were only 7 NL OFers with a OPS > .800. Soto also led OFers in OBP. It appears that he did deserve the award.