Baltimore Orioles: Shifts, bloops, and bunts


The Baltimore Orioles employ a lot of infield shifts during games – as much if not more than anyone in baseball. With that said, as yourself if that in and of itself isn’t hurting them in ways that are unseen or unknown. Obviously some hitters are able to successfully hit against the shift here and there, and that includes several Orioles. But I’m not talking about hitting against the shift, bunting, or anything along those lines.

For quite some time, we’ve talked about how the the O’s seem to be victims of broken bat and bloop singles. Heck, the Kansas City Royals blooped their way to an American League Championship over the O’s last year. And last night we saw Oakland use two infield singles to get a rally cooking in the ninth against the O’s. So is there a correlation between shifts – or shall we say “odd” defensive alignments – and fluky plays?

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  • When you go into a shift guys end up playing out of position. The game is in essence designed to have each position playing straight away. Shifting away from that is done due to numbers. It’s really no different than matching up righty/righty or lefty/lefty. The manager’s playing the numbers, which in that case suggest that the batter pushes the ball to one specific side of the infield.

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    But you’re also opening up a hole, which makes it much more difficult for a player to have to adjust on the fly. Last night there was a flailing pop which would have normally been a fairly routine play for Manny Machado. He was able to deflect the ball with the tip of his glove, but it ticked away. Machado had shifted around into the shortstop position, and had to glide all the way back over to the line.

    Luckily that didn’t hurt the Orioles, however the point is that the shifts can often turn routine plays into fluky things which can often cost teams games. Even in the ninth inning; the O’s were playing your typical “no doubles defense,” which doesn’t even take into account that a guy could get on base with an infield single. The numbers of course don’t support that potentiality, however the fact is that it happened.

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    There’s no perfect alignment, because when you’re playing numbers you’re always going to potentially forsake something else. You’re always going to leave a hole someplace, in essence daring the other guy to defy his own numbers and beat you. Unfortunately that’s part of the game. However the fact remains that there might not be another team in baseball that’s victimized by strange things in games as much as are the Orioles.

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