Sabermetric Defense



Photo by Uppercutmagazine.com



Sabermetric Defensive Alignments and More

 

By David A. Avila

Baseball’s beautiful symmetry has been changed.

Blame the sabermetrics.

Lopsided defensive placements have six infielders on one side and maybe one defender on the other. It’s the new reality of baseball and it’s all due to the sabermetric fiends that have convinced baseball management that the numbers don’t lie.

Or do they?

Just as the argument to move infielders around to unorthodox spots was first scoffed at, well the solution to defeating flooded sides is equally ridiculous, but full-proof.

Teach your team how to bunt.

Back in the beginning of baseball players were placed in certain positions because it made sense. But back in the 1860s you had players who knew how to bunt and often did at ridiculously high rates.

Today’s players are inept at the most fundamental portion of hitting and the art of bunting has virtually been lost.

Maury Wills won a Most Valuable Player award in 1962 by bunting and stealing wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He could bunt with the best of them and used it as a powerful weapon to get on base. Opposing teams like the San Francisco Giants would pile sand all around the batting area to slow down Wills.

I played baseball competitively for more than 37 years also managed for a dozen more. Strategy has to be designed by those who know ho to play, not some guys who study charts and numbers. Baseball is a fluid game that changes from day to day depending on numerous factors including emotions. You cannot factor in emotions into sabermetrics.

Loading up one side of the field for pull hitters can be a serious flaw. Why hasn’t anybody else seen the obvious?

Bunt.

Many good things can happen from learning how to bunt efficiently. First, you can beat a loaded defense. Second, it take eye and hand coordination to a higher level by forcing a batter to concentrate on the spin and height. Third, if you can catch a ball you can hit a ball. Bunting forcing a batter to remind themselves that as long as you can catch a 100-plus fastball that moves, you can hit it. Bunting is even easier.

Bunting was always a way for me to break out of a slump. It forced me to look at the ball longer and into the glove of the catcher. Once I figured out the speed and movement, I could bunt anybody and place it where I wanted.

Batting with today’s defensive placements would be easy for me. Why not Major Leaguers?

Recently, I saw Cody Bellinger bat against a San Diego Padre team that loaded the right side of the field with most of its defensive players. He hit a sharp grounder to one of the fielders. The entire left side of the infield was open. The closest player to third base was probably 85 feet or more.

Later, Joc Pederson faced a similar defensive alignment. He slapped a single to the open left side. A bunt would have been even easier.

Bunts are the enemy of the new sabermetric defensive alignments.

Learn bunting or fail.

 

Big Surprises

 

Florida Marlins – After nearly two dozen players and members of the organization tested positive and forced the team to shut down for a week, they have returned with a vengeance.

The Marlins behind a mixture to rookies and veterans lead the NL East Division. So far the favorites have not been able to keep pace in this 60-game season.

Colorado Rockies – Last year the Rockies were among the favorites to contend for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Instead they were pitiful. Forget about last year. This year the pitching that was touted in 2018 has returned and they look good. Behind the keen leadership of manager Bud Black the Rockies lead the Dodgers by percentage points. Who would have thought?

Arizona D-Backs – The team from Phoenix was expected to battle for a playoff spot especially after signing Madison Bumgarner to a large contract. The former SF Giant lefty ace has been unable to crack 90 miles an hour so far in the season. It’s still early but the D-Backs need a semblance of the pitcher who led the Giants to three World Series titles.

New York Mets – Flaunting an ace pitcher in Jacob DeGrom, who won back to back Cy Young Awards, many expected the New York Mets to contend for the NL East Division title. Add a homerun king in Pete Alonso, the return of Yoanis Cespedes and the addition of Dellin Betances and it was supposed to spell success.

Once again the jinx has appeared and the Mets are anything but successful so far in the season. Cespedes pulled out of baseball blaming the coronavirus and Alonso doesn’t seem to be able to catch that pop he had last year. It is still early in the season but the Mets cant afford to play catchup this season.

 

 

 

 

 

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