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Defensive shifts such as this are commonplace now via GabboT. As defensive shifts have become more pervasive in baseball, so has the mystique surrounding their supposed effect. Early this year, Jonah Keri identified defensive shifts as one reason for the recent decline in baseball offense. Like Keri, he pointed to declining batting averages as proof that the shift was working too well.
Things reached a fever pitch a few weeks ago when Tom Verducci ran with an idea that Lennon had proposed: This false association is worrisome. No one feels sorry for declining millionaire pull hitters, but many people are sincerely concerned about declining offense in baseball. Successfully associating the rise of the shift to the decline in baseball offense could convince people to support drastic changes in the game. In , the Year of the Pitcher famously resulted in the mound being lowered and changes to the strike zone.
Let me be clear about one thing: Shifts are not producing less value on balls put into fair play. We are facing a troubling decline in baseball offense, but if we want to treat the illness, the first thing order of business is to diagnose it correctly. The primary reason people blame the shift for declining offense is because they are citing the wrong statistics. This is because understanding the effect of defensive shifts requires you not only to use the correct statistics, but to use the right denominator under those statistics —specifically, limiting their focus to balls put into fair play.
By reweighting the best of these statistics—wOBA—with the correct denominator, we can both correctly ascertain the current value of baseball contact and understand why the decline in baseball offense has nothing to do with the shift. The currency of the game is runs, and the trend is dramatic and indisputable:. There are certainly reasons for this decline that go beyond defensive strategy.
At the end of the s, baseball was coming out of an expansion era that had diluted the quality of league pitching. The use of performance enhancing drugs amphetamines, steroids, and the like also was increasingly scrutinized and heading toward decline. Overall, you can see three general time periods on the chart: Because that last, four-year period somewhat correlates albeit imperfectly with the rising popularity of the defensive shift, you can see why someone might hypothesize the shift is at fault.
Moreover, if you test that hypothesis with commonly-cited offensive metrics, it seems like decreased success on balls in play—which is the entire point of shifting your infield defense—could be responsible for some of the offensive decline. For example:. The chart presents three composite offensive statistics of varying quality: We all grew up with batting average, but it is imprecise and often misleading.
OPS is an improvement, though it is still somewhat imprecise but usually not misleading. At the top of the ladder is wOBA, which accurately averages the reasonable values of each offensive event. All three statistics suggest the same conclusion as the runs chart: Offense is down, and the on-base production statistics are plunging at the same time the shift is growing in popularity. Therefore, the shift could fairly be blamed as a contributing factor, right?
Well, no. The first rule of using a statistic correctly is to know what the statistic actually is measuring. Batting average, OPS, and wOBA are not limited to balls in play and sometimes can mask on-field results in larger trends. Dave Cameron pointed this out recently when he introduced the new Instagraphs feature at Fangraphs. As Dave notes, this chart obviously is inconsistent with the idea that balls in play are being stifled by the shift.
Extra-base hits are much more valuable than singles. And the goal of defensive shifts is not merely to turn singles into outs, but to turn doubles into singles and perhaps home runs into bloop hits as hitters supposedly try to salvage their plate appearance by hitting the ball around the shift, compromising their power as they do so.
More importantly, in appreciating the value of hits and lost hits , we need to remember that the offensive values of each type of hit are dynamic in nature: In particular, the fewer the hits we have, the greater the value of the hits that still remain. The increasing value of the remaining hits can—and in this case do—compensate for hits that might otherwise be getting stopped or limited by defensive shifts.
In short, analyzing the shift requires us to appreciate: None of the standard statistics cited above allows us to satisfy all three requirements. Batting average and BABIP flunk criteria 2 and 3 , because they treat all hits as equally valuable; OPS and wOBA fail criteria 1 , because they have the wrong denominator, using all plate appearances which would include walks and strikeouts instead of just fairly-hit balls.
We need something different. We need to include all fairly-hit balls. In sum, to understand the possible effect of the shift on baseball offense, we need to include home runs, we need to include the correct weights for each season, and we need to have the correct denominator. The denominator is all at-bats, minus strikeouts. This allows us to capture all balls in that are put into fair play. If it has, then and only then is it fair to question whether the shift is reducing baseball offense.
If the value of baseball contact has not gone down, though, the shift is irrelevant. It is a convenient scapegoat and nothing more. Is offense down on balls being put into fair play? And here is another version of our Runs per Game line graph, this time with the league-wide wOBAcon superimposed over the same time period:. Although there is a connection between wOBAcon and Team Runs per game more on that in a moment , the values we care about are from onward.
As you can see, there is no discernable connection between the rise of the shift and the plunge in baseball offense during that time period. In fact, production on balls in fair play as measured by wOBAcon has been trending upward at the same time scoring overall has been trending downward. This finding would seem to exonerate the shift. If the value of balls in fair play is not actually declining, then the shift, by definition, cannot be responsible for a coincidental decline in baseball offense.
The claim that the shift is responsible for decreased baseball offense is wrong, and changes to the game designed to limit the shift would make no difference, to say nothing of their unintended consequences. So please, stop blaming the shift. Declining offense is a problem, but it is not being caused by the results of balls in play.
Two final points. First, in his Instagraphs piece, Dave Cameron blamed the decline of offense on the increase in strikeouts. It turns out that the seasonal differential between the two wOBAcon minus wOBA is moderately correlated with team runs scored. In other words, the greater the distance between major-league wOBAcon and wOBA, the more runs we usually have getting scored. What is interesting about the last few years, though, is that this relationship has started to break down:.
As you can see from the chart, the differential between wOBAcon and wOBA is greater than it has ever been, which means that run-scoring should be going up , not down. And yet the opposite is happening, and dramatically so. In other words, something in the system appears to be broken—something like the strike zone, for example.
Moreover, the deviation from the predicted trend is growing stronger. In , the standardized residual was In it was In , it was So far, is on pace to deviate even further in this unexpected direction. We have seen negative deviations of this magnitude before, during the so-called Second Deadball Era of the s. We first saw them from through , when these z-scores ranged from The trend continued as we approached the Year of the Pitcher, reaching After changes were made to the mound and strike zone, the trend then rebounded briefly before plunging again to I mention this because in , the American League adopted the designated hitter.
It took 39 years after the addition of the DH for the wOBA differential to veer back into the territory of the s. This finding is interesting because one idea being floated for increasing baseball offense would be adding the designated hitter to the National League. Would adding the DH to the NL help address this most recent decline in baseball offense? Nice writeup. It is intriguing to see that players batted balls have been increasing productivity according to your wOBAcon formula.
It would be interested to bring an analysis of BB and rates and how the shift is affecting them. Are pitchers going after hitters more so the BB rates will decrease? It is tough to straight up quantify the shift in isolation since it will affect other aspects of the game. Much like a team picking up a closer in trade. This is the key flaw in the argument that contact performance rates define the impact of shifts. If, for example, a hitter, who would normally pull an inside fastball, tries to wait a little longer to beat the shift by going the other way, he may be more prone to swinging and missing i.
Increased velocity, strike zones, etc. No, it is making no prescriptive conclusion. The article is stating that by the measure employed there is no apparent correlation between the increased use of the defensive shift and the continuation of the trend of depressed offense in baseball. I just had a thought and did some quick math to check it; There has been significantly more strikes thrown since If you take the run value of a strike to be 0.
Maybe it just means the run value of a strike is changing over time. Another thought I had while figuring this out — what if the extra strikes are entirely due to increased usage of or talent in pitch framing? The 0. Mark, Nope.
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Power hitters who reside there permanently have become an endangered species because of a confluence of changes to their environment. Although eight of the top 10 home run hitters in are right-handed, such success comes on the heels of some very fallow years, and it belies the larger trend.
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15 years later, memory of Dru Sjodin lives on
Hundreds volunteered to search for her in the wake of the disappearance, and agencies from Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada along with the FBI offered their assistance. There was evidence the student had been raped and murdered, according to court documents. In September , Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. He now is the only person who committed a crime in North Dakota on death row, though he is trying to appeal the conviction. Though the search ended in tragedy, her story continues to live past the murder, former U. Attorney Drew Wrigley said. Colleagues, friends and even strangers on the street who followed the case still bring it up when they see him. As horrific as the crime was, the search and condolences that flowed in from everywhere showed there was good in the world, that people truly cared about Sjodin, her mother, Linda Walker, said. In the first hours, some thought Sjodin was another missing person who would eventually show up, said Hedlund, who was the public information officer for the Grand Forks Police Department when she was abducted.
Defensive shifts such as this are commonplace now via GabboT. As defensive shifts have become more pervasive in baseball, so has the mystique surrounding their supposed effect. Early this year, Jonah Keri identified defensive shifts as one reason for the recent decline in baseball offense. Like Keri, he pointed to declining batting averages as proof that the shift was working too well. Things reached a fever pitch a few weeks ago when Tom Verducci ran with an idea that Lennon had proposed:
What is trial code if ifinger search - Ifinger Oxford Dictionary of English
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