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  • How Will the 2023 Brewers Benefit from the Shift *Ban?


    DuWayne Steurer

    With league-wide rule changes in place for defensive alignments in 2023, the left-hand-heavy Brewers offense could benefit more than others. We'll break down the numbers and see what, if any, advantage the Crew might gain from the new ruleset in the coming season.

    Image courtesy of © Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

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    However you feel about the new rules regarding infield defensive alignment, they're coming and probably here to stay. With strikeout totals soaring, defenses shifting on nearly every batter, and batters favoring launch angle and exit velocity over putting the ball in play, league-wide offense plummeted to an OPS of just .706. 

    The league OPS was .700 in 2014 and .700 back in 1992 Over the past thirty years, the .706 OPS posted this past year is the third lowest league OPS. Baseball offense is down, and the powers that be don't seem to like it. On top of that, with strikeouts up and fewer balls in play turning into hits due to the shift, the phrase that more than one person has bandied about in the game (and without) is that the game "isn't aesthetically pleasing." 

    With yearly tweaks being done at multiple levels in the minor leagues, the big one coming in 2023 is the *ban on defensive shifts. The asterisk shows up as we will see a partial ban on defensive positioning (at least not yet). The rules state that the defense must have four players with their feet on the infield dirt and two players on either side of second base when a pitch is thrown. With that in mind, defenses will still have a fair amount of freedom to shift a second baseman deep into the hole, have a shortstop right on top of second base, have the third baseman play in the shortstop position so on. We won't see a third baseman playing in short right field and a second baseman playing fifteen feet behind the first baseman, cutting off sharp line drives into the right field corner. 

    So how does this affect or benefit the Brewers? Rule changes regarding defensive positioning should affect pull-hitting lefties nearly equally across the league. In 2023 the Brewers look to feature (again) a lefty-heavy lineup with mainstays Christian Yelich and Rowdy Tellez, newcomer Jesse Winker, and early indications are that Garrett Mitchell and Sal Frelick could both receive ample playing time in their rookie campaigns. 

    Of the three lefties returning who'll see major playing time, Tellez is the most extreme pull hitter. (via FanGraphs)

    Partial SeasonsPostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2018 TOR MLB 1.06 26.0% 38.0% 36.0% 11.1% 22.2% 21.1% 0.0% 42.0% 30.0% 28.0% 18.0% 42.0% 40.0%
    2019 TOR MLB 1.02 23.7% 38.5% 37.7% 10.3% 21.6% 1.0% 0.0% 42.0% 39.3% 18.7% 15.6% 42.8% 41.6%
    2020 TOR MLB 1.38 20.0% 46.3% 33.7% 6.3% 25.0% 6.8% 0.0% 36.8% 37.9% 25.3% 20.0% 42.1% 37.9%
    2021 2 Tms MLB 1.08 20.6% 41.2% 38.2% 12.4% 12.4% 11.5% 0.0% 36.5% 36.9% 26.6% 15.9% 48.5% 35.6%
    2022 MIL MLB 0.86 15.6% 38.9% 45.5% 12.3% 18.7% 4.4% 0.0% 41.4% 39.7% 19.0% 17.5% 42.1% 40.4%
    Total - - - MLB 0.99 19.6% 40.0% 40.4% 11.3% 18.7% 6.2% 0.0% 40.1% 38.3% 21.6% 16.9% 43.7% 39.4%
     

    Teams shifted 78.4% of the time against Tellez, resulting in a .020 drop in his wOBA, per Statcast. Over the past two seasons, Tellez's shift data has been fairly consistent with teams shifting on him often, and Tellez hitting well in his opportunities against standard alignment. Another factor in Tellez's performance to be considered has to be the .215 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). Well below his career norm, and any season he's had prior, the Brewers have to expect that number to rebound to some degree. Tellez doesn't strike out at the pace of most 30 - 35 home run sluggers, but having a bit higher BABIP would boost that slugging and OPS. Whether teams are shifting or not, that number seems unsustainable for another full season for Tellez.

    Despite the seeming perception of Christian Yelich grounding out repeatedly to second base, his spray chart, hit chart, and all the data shows that he distributes the ball evenly to all fields. (via FanGraphs)

    PostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2013 MIA MLB 4.58 23.0% 63.2% 13.8% 0.0% 16.7% 8.2% 0.0% 32.0% 36.0% 32.0% 17.1% 48.6% 34.3%
    2014 MIA MLB 3.42 21.2% 61.0% 17.8% 1.3% 11.5% 6.0% 50.0% 27.8% 40.9% 31.3% 15.8% 50.0% 34.2%
    2015 MIA MLB 4.16 22.5% 62.5% 15.0% 0.0% 12.5% 5.2% 0.0% 31.7% 40.5% 27.7% 17.1% 49.9% 33.1%
    2016 MIA MLB 2.82 23.4% 56.5% 20.0% 5.6% 23.6% 6.0% 100.0% 36.0% 35.1% 29.0% 17.5% 44.5% 38.0%
    2017 MIA MLB 2.20 19.4% 55.4% 25.2% 2.5% 15.3% 4.2% 50.0% 33.3% 37.4% 29.3% 15.9% 48.8% 35.2%
    2018 MIL MLB 2.20 24.7% 51.8% 23.5% 4.9% 35.0% 6.6% 33.3% 34.9% 38.1% 27.0% 14.5% 37.9% 47.6%
    2019 MIL MLB 1.20 20.9% 43.2% 35.9% 7.5% 32.8% 6.2% 0.0% 39.3% 37.4% 23.3% 14.4% 34.8% 50.8%
    2020 MIL MLB 1.70 19.4% 50.8% 29.8% 0.0% 32.4% 1.6% 0.0% 38.7% 33.1% 28.2% 8.1% 50.8% 41.1%
    2021 MIL MLB 2.29 22.0% 54.4% 23.7% 2.9% 13.2% 7.7% 100.0% 35.3% 35.3% 29.4% 15.9% 49.1% 34.9%
    2022 MIL MLB 2.55 18.4% 58.6% 23.0% 5.3% 14.7% 6.2% 33.3% 34.4% 35.3% 30.3% 13.9% 52.2% 33.9%
    Total - - - MLB 2.46 21.5% 55.8% 22.7% 3.9% 21.7% 5.9% 44.4% 34.0% 37.3% 28.7% 15.4% 46.2% 38.4%

    Accordingly, teams don't shift on Yelich all that much, at 30.6%, and interestingly when they do, his wOBA last season was .368 in 206 plate appearances compared to the .311 wOBA posted in his non-shifted plate appearances. During previous campaigns from 2018 to 2021, teams were shifting on Yelich more in the 50-55% range. It could be that Yelich becoming more of a singles and doubles hitter, and definitely a guy who uses all fields, is forcing teams to defend the whole field. 

    Jesse Winker is an interesting case, as he had an extreme down year in 2022, seemingly due to playing injured for much of the season. Winker's shift data is strange in that in all but one season in his career, he has posted a higher wOBA while being shifted than not shifted, yet teams continue to shift against him, and his spray charts and hit data suggest he is a heavy pull hitter. (via FanGraphs)

    PostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2017 CIN MLB 1.70 16.5% 52.6% 30.9% 3.3% 23.3% 2.0% 0.0% 40.8% 37.8% 21.4% 12.2% 52.0% 35.7%
    2018 CIN MLB 1.24 24.0% 42.1% 33.9% 8.9% 8.9% 5.1% 50.0% 37.1% 37.1% 25.7% 11.8% 44.3% 43.9%
    2019 CIN MLB 1.96 26.4% 48.7% 24.9% 4.3% 23.2% 1.5% 0.0% 39.9% 36.3% 23.7% 15.5% 43.2% 41.4%
    2020 CIN MLB 1.67 23.1% 48.1% 28.8% 6.7% 40.0% 0.0% 0.0% 46.2% 31.7% 22.1% 10.6% 40.4% 49.0%
    2021 CIN MLB 1.26 24.7% 42.0% 33.3% 9.5% 20.7% 4.8% 0.0% 39.4% 35.6% 25.0% 15.8% 47.7% 36.5%
    2022 SEA MLB 0.96 20.6% 38.9% 40.6% 17.4% 9.7% 4.3% 0.0% 38.5% 35.7% 25.8% 20.5% 50.8% 28.7%
    Total - - - MLB 1.32 23.2% 43.7% 33.1% 10.5% 17.1% 3.4% 28.6% 39.5% 35.9% 24.6% 15.6% 46.8% 37.6%

    There's a lot to parse here. Winker's hard hit percentage fell off a cliff last year, after trending down in 2021. His flyball percentage was well up, but it didn't really translate into home runs in Seattle, which is somewhat to be expected. First and foremost, for Winker's 2023 to be successful, he needs to be healthy. Digging through the data, it's hard to tell how much of Winker's drop off was due to injury, playing in Seattle, or other factors. With the limited ability to shift next year however, a healthy Winker should be able to benefit.

    The rest of the Brewers roster still has a lot of left handed sticks as of early December. Garrett Mitchell and Sal Frelick should see plenty of time in the outfield. Victor Caratini and newly acquired utility infielder Abraham Toro each hit from both sides of the plate. It's possible on any given night the Brewers could send as many as six batters to the dish from the left side of the plate. 

    The Brewers struggled against left handed pitching last year, and with their current makeup, it's possible that trend could continue. As the off season continues, it will be interesting to see how General Manager Matt Arnold approaches the lineup makeup of the team as it currently stands. With youngsters Frelick and Mitchell, who have had varying success against left handed pitching in their minor league careers and who are both more suited to on base roles rather than slugging and run producing roles, the Brewers offense could see a boost against left-handed pitching with these types of players more able to utilize the diamond with the shift being banned. 

    Sal Frelick's splits in 2022 - (via StatCast)

    Platoon Splits

    Team
    Lg
    Type
    PA
    AB
    R
    H
    2B
    3B
    HR
    RBI
    BB
    SO
    SB
    CS
    HBP
    AVG
    OBP
    SLG
    OPS
    Nashville Sounds Triple-A vs Left 77 66   26 1 2 1 11 6 7     3 .394 .467 .515 .982
    Biloxi Shuckers Double-A vs Left 65 55   15 1 1 2 7 6 10     3 .273 .369 .436 .805
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers High-A vs Left 24 19   4 1 0 0 1 5 4     0 .211 .375 .263 .638
    Nashville Sounds Triple-A vs Right 140 123   43 10 0 3 14 13 9     2 .350 .417 .504 .921
    Biloxi Shuckers Double-A vs Right 188 169   56 11 2 3 18 14 23     1 .331 .384 .473 .857
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers High-A vs Right 68 60   19 4 1 2 8 8 10     0 .317 .397 .517 .914

    After an initial struggle at High A, Frelick hit well against lefties at both stops the rest of the season. Whether that will translate into success against the tough lefties he'll face at the major league level remains to be seen, but certainly those numbers are encouraging.

    Ultimately, regardless of where the fielders stand, the Brewer offense should be better than it was in 2022, and it absolutely has to produce better results than it did against left-handed pitching. However, with a bevy of pull-heavy lefties on the roster, a ban on the shift could make life easier for a few of the guys who will most likely be installed in the middle of the order in Tellez and Winker. Despite the fact that the shift ban should affect everyone equally, a team heavy on left handed batters like the Brewers could benefit more than some if the lineup stays as currently constructed.

    What do you think, Brewer Fanatics? Is the ban on the shift going to play any kind of role for the Brewers current lefty-heavy offense? Will the Brewers continue to struggle against left handed pitching regardless? Does Matt Arnold have a few more moves up his sleeves that will make a bigger difference than where the second baseman stands? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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    With league-wide rule changes in place for defensive alignments in 2023, the left-hand-heavy Brewers offense could benefit more than others. We'll break down the numbers and see what, if any, advantage the Crew might gain from the new ruleset in the coming season.

    However you feel about the new rules regarding infield defensive alignment, they're coming and probably here to stay. With strikeout totals soaring, defenses shifting on nearly every batter, and batters favoring launch angle and exit velocity over putting the ball in play, league-wide offense plummeted to an OPS of just .706. 

    The league OPS was .700 in 2014 and .700 back in 1992 Over the past thirty years, the .706 OPS posted this past year is the third lowest league OPS. Baseball offense is down, and the powers that be don't seem to like it. On top of that, with strikeouts up and fewer balls in play turning into hits due to the shift, the phrase that more than one person has bandied about in the game (and without) is that the game "isn't aesthetically pleasing." 

    With yearly tweaks being done at multiple levels in the minor leagues, the big one coming in 2023 is the *ban on defensive shifts. The asterisk shows up as we will see a partial ban on defensive positioning (at least not yet). The rules state that the defense must have four players with their feet on the infield dirt and two players on either side of second base when a pitch is thrown. With that in mind, defenses will still have a fair amount of freedom to shift a second baseman deep into the hole, have a shortstop right on top of second base, have the third baseman play in the shortstop position so on. We won't see a third baseman playing in short right field and a second baseman playing fifteen feet behind the first baseman, cutting off sharp line drives into the right field corner. 

    So how does this affect or benefit the Brewers? Rule changes regarding defensive positioning should affect pull-hitting lefties nearly equally across the league. In 2023 the Brewers look to feature (again) a lefty-heavy lineup with mainstays Christian Yelich and Rowdy Tellez, newcomer Jesse Winker, and early indications are that Garrett Mitchell and Sal Frelick could both receive ample playing time in their rookie campaigns. 

    Of the three lefties returning who'll see major playing time, Tellez is the most extreme pull hitter. (via FanGraphs)

    Partial SeasonsPostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2018 TOR MLB 1.06 26.0% 38.0% 36.0% 11.1% 22.2% 21.1% 0.0% 42.0% 30.0% 28.0% 18.0% 42.0% 40.0%
    2019 TOR MLB 1.02 23.7% 38.5% 37.7% 10.3% 21.6% 1.0% 0.0% 42.0% 39.3% 18.7% 15.6% 42.8% 41.6%
    2020 TOR MLB 1.38 20.0% 46.3% 33.7% 6.3% 25.0% 6.8% 0.0% 36.8% 37.9% 25.3% 20.0% 42.1% 37.9%
    2021 2 Tms MLB 1.08 20.6% 41.2% 38.2% 12.4% 12.4% 11.5% 0.0% 36.5% 36.9% 26.6% 15.9% 48.5% 35.6%
    2022 MIL MLB 0.86 15.6% 38.9% 45.5% 12.3% 18.7% 4.4% 0.0% 41.4% 39.7% 19.0% 17.5% 42.1% 40.4%
    Total - - - MLB 0.99 19.6% 40.0% 40.4% 11.3% 18.7% 6.2% 0.0% 40.1% 38.3% 21.6% 16.9% 43.7% 39.4%
     

    Teams shifted 78.4% of the time against Tellez, resulting in a .020 drop in his wOBA, per Statcast. Over the past two seasons, Tellez's shift data has been fairly consistent with teams shifting on him often, and Tellez hitting well in his opportunities against standard alignment. Another factor in Tellez's performance to be considered has to be the .215 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). Well below his career norm, and any season he's had prior, the Brewers have to expect that number to rebound to some degree. Tellez doesn't strike out at the pace of most 30 - 35 home run sluggers, but having a bit higher BABIP would boost that slugging and OPS. Whether teams are shifting or not, that number seems unsustainable for another full season for Tellez.

    Despite the seeming perception of Christian Yelich grounding out repeatedly to second base, his spray chart, hit chart, and all the data shows that he distributes the ball evenly to all fields. (via FanGraphs)

    PostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2013 MIA MLB 4.58 23.0% 63.2% 13.8% 0.0% 16.7% 8.2% 0.0% 32.0% 36.0% 32.0% 17.1% 48.6% 34.3%
    2014 MIA MLB 3.42 21.2% 61.0% 17.8% 1.3% 11.5% 6.0% 50.0% 27.8% 40.9% 31.3% 15.8% 50.0% 34.2%
    2015 MIA MLB 4.16 22.5% 62.5% 15.0% 0.0% 12.5% 5.2% 0.0% 31.7% 40.5% 27.7% 17.1% 49.9% 33.1%
    2016 MIA MLB 2.82 23.4% 56.5% 20.0% 5.6% 23.6% 6.0% 100.0% 36.0% 35.1% 29.0% 17.5% 44.5% 38.0%
    2017 MIA MLB 2.20 19.4% 55.4% 25.2% 2.5% 15.3% 4.2% 50.0% 33.3% 37.4% 29.3% 15.9% 48.8% 35.2%
    2018 MIL MLB 2.20 24.7% 51.8% 23.5% 4.9% 35.0% 6.6% 33.3% 34.9% 38.1% 27.0% 14.5% 37.9% 47.6%
    2019 MIL MLB 1.20 20.9% 43.2% 35.9% 7.5% 32.8% 6.2% 0.0% 39.3% 37.4% 23.3% 14.4% 34.8% 50.8%
    2020 MIL MLB 1.70 19.4% 50.8% 29.8% 0.0% 32.4% 1.6% 0.0% 38.7% 33.1% 28.2% 8.1% 50.8% 41.1%
    2021 MIL MLB 2.29 22.0% 54.4% 23.7% 2.9% 13.2% 7.7% 100.0% 35.3% 35.3% 29.4% 15.9% 49.1% 34.9%
    2022 MIL MLB 2.55 18.4% 58.6% 23.0% 5.3% 14.7% 6.2% 33.3% 34.4% 35.3% 30.3% 13.9% 52.2% 33.9%
    Total - - - MLB 2.46 21.5% 55.8% 22.7% 3.9% 21.7% 5.9% 44.4% 34.0% 37.3% 28.7% 15.4% 46.2% 38.4%

    Accordingly, teams don't shift on Yelich all that much, at 30.6%, and interestingly when they do, his wOBA last season was .368 in 206 plate appearances compared to the .311 wOBA posted in his non-shifted plate appearances. During previous campaigns from 2018 to 2021, teams were shifting on Yelich more in the 50-55% range. It could be that Yelich becoming more of a singles and doubles hitter, and definitely a guy who uses all fields, is forcing teams to defend the whole field. 

    Jesse Winker is an interesting case, as he had an extreme down year in 2022, seemingly due to playing injured for much of the season. Winker's shift data is strange in that in all but one season in his career, he has posted a higher wOBA while being shifted than not shifted, yet teams continue to shift against him, and his spray charts and hit data suggest he is a heavy pull hitter. (via FanGraphs)

    PostseasonPreseason ProjectionsMinor LeaguesRegular MLB Seasons
    Season Team Level GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
    2017 CIN MLB 1.70 16.5% 52.6% 30.9% 3.3% 23.3% 2.0% 0.0% 40.8% 37.8% 21.4% 12.2% 52.0% 35.7%
    2018 CIN MLB 1.24 24.0% 42.1% 33.9% 8.9% 8.9% 5.1% 50.0% 37.1% 37.1% 25.7% 11.8% 44.3% 43.9%
    2019 CIN MLB 1.96 26.4% 48.7% 24.9% 4.3% 23.2% 1.5% 0.0% 39.9% 36.3% 23.7% 15.5% 43.2% 41.4%
    2020 CIN MLB 1.67 23.1% 48.1% 28.8% 6.7% 40.0% 0.0% 0.0% 46.2% 31.7% 22.1% 10.6% 40.4% 49.0%
    2021 CIN MLB 1.26 24.7% 42.0% 33.3% 9.5% 20.7% 4.8% 0.0% 39.4% 35.6% 25.0% 15.8% 47.7% 36.5%
    2022 SEA MLB 0.96 20.6% 38.9% 40.6% 17.4% 9.7% 4.3% 0.0% 38.5% 35.7% 25.8% 20.5% 50.8% 28.7%
    Total - - - MLB 1.32 23.2% 43.7% 33.1% 10.5% 17.1% 3.4% 28.6% 39.5% 35.9% 24.6% 15.6% 46.8% 37.6%

    There's a lot to parse here. Winker's hard hit percentage fell off a cliff last year, after trending down in 2021. His flyball percentage was well up, but it didn't really translate into home runs in Seattle, which is somewhat to be expected. First and foremost, for Winker's 2023 to be successful, he needs to be healthy. Digging through the data, it's hard to tell how much of Winker's drop off was due to injury, playing in Seattle, or other factors. With the limited ability to shift next year however, a healthy Winker should be able to benefit.

    The rest of the Brewers roster still has a lot of left handed sticks as of early December. Garrett Mitchell and Sal Frelick should see plenty of time in the outfield. Victor Caratini and newly acquired utility infielder Abraham Toro each hit from both sides of the plate. It's possible on any given night the Brewers could send as many as six batters to the dish from the left side of the plate. 

    The Brewers struggled against left handed pitching last year, and with their current makeup, it's possible that trend could continue. As the off season continues, it will be interesting to see how General Manager Matt Arnold approaches the lineup makeup of the team as it currently stands. With youngsters Frelick and Mitchell, who have had varying success against left handed pitching in their minor league careers and who are both more suited to on base roles rather than slugging and run producing roles, the Brewers offense could see a boost against left-handed pitching with these types of players more able to utilize the diamond with the shift being banned. 

    Sal Frelick's splits in 2022 - (via StatCast)

    Platoon Splits

    Team
    Lg
    Type
    PA
    AB
    R
    H
    2B
    3B
    HR
    RBI
    BB
    SO
    SB
    CS
    HBP
    AVG
    OBP
    SLG
    OPS
    Nashville Sounds Triple-A vs Left 77 66   26 1 2 1 11 6 7     3 .394 .467 .515 .982
    Biloxi Shuckers Double-A vs Left 65 55   15 1 1 2 7 6 10     3 .273 .369 .436 .805
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers High-A vs Left 24 19   4 1 0 0 1 5 4     0 .211 .375 .263 .638
    Nashville Sounds Triple-A vs Right 140 123   43 10 0 3 14 13 9     2 .350 .417 .504 .921
    Biloxi Shuckers Double-A vs Right 188 169   56 11 2 3 18 14 23     1 .331 .384 .473 .857
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers High-A vs Right 68 60   19 4 1 2 8 8 10     0 .317 .397 .517 .914

    After an initial struggle at High A, Frelick hit well against lefties at both stops the rest of the season. Whether that will translate into success against the tough lefties he'll face at the major league level remains to be seen, but certainly those numbers are encouraging.

    Ultimately, regardless of where the fielders stand, the Brewer offense should be better than it was in 2022, and it absolutely has to produce better results than it did against left-handed pitching. However, with a bevy of pull-heavy lefties on the roster, a ban on the shift could make life easier for a few of the guys who will most likely be installed in the middle of the order in Tellez and Winker. Despite the fact that the shift ban should affect everyone equally, a team heavy on left handed batters like the Brewers could benefit more than some if the lineup stays as currently constructed.

    What do you think, Brewer Fanatics? Is the ban on the shift going to play any kind of role for the Brewers current lefty-heavy offense? Will the Brewers continue to struggle against left handed pitching regardless? Does Matt Arnold have a few more moves up his sleeves that will make a bigger difference than where the second baseman stands? Let us know what you think in the comments!


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    I think Rowdy, Yeli, and Winker will benefit a bit but I am not thinking it will be a huge benefit. Yeli might beat out a couple more IF singles and Winker/Tellez may get a regular 1B back that the deep 2B caught. Overall I would say maybe 10 to 20 batting points. Yeli still needs to lift the ball a bit better and not miss so many "meat" pitches. I feel like Rowdy tried to play hero ball to much and hit a ton of warning track balls he could have just as easy laced for a 1B or 2B. No guesses on Winker. 

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    Great analysis. 

    The stats certainly back up what I saw from Winker last year. Tons of softly hit balls to the pull side which were gobbled up by the shift. Those will still get gobbled up by shifts in 2023. The annoying thing about the shift was when hard hit balls were turned into outs which is what this rule change should help with since you can't play the 2B on the grass anymore. I'm sure the 2B will still be sitting there in the hole waiting for the slowly-hit rollers. 

    Toro will benefit as well since he is better from the left side and is unlikely to get many ABs against lefties. The Brewers definitely took the shift into account when acquiring Toro as the extra piece in the Wong trade. 

    Some of the cascading changes are going to be fun and will take a few years to work out. LOOGYs were basically killed by the combination of shifting and the 3-batter rule but I doubt we'll see anyone copying the Astros' strategy of not having a lefty in the pen anymore. 

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    If teams shifted against Tellez 80% of the time and it was an effective strategy against his bat, I assume they would just go with a two man outfield, put the shift on him with the outfielder and take their chances because he's not much of a runner should he hit one the other way. 

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    I am sure we will see all different kinds of things to shift while still playing within the new rules. I just think that a guy like Rowdy benefits from say 5-10 balls he hit to the left side and lost maybe 10-15 balls he hit hard to the right (guess-timating). Those 5 extra hits are like .10 BA, he can easily make a few small approach changes and get back to the .270 or so he hit with us in 21. 

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    While there will be benefits, the Brewers defense can't shift now either. I don't know their stats the last 2 seasons with playing shifts.  Now the big 3 are high k rate pitchers, Ashby/Lauer how will this affect them?  Houser is such a groundball inducing pitcher, I wonder if this hurts or helps him, considering the defense playing standard would cover more 1b-3b of the diamond. 

    You article got in to the LH batters, but I put something on Adames and his shift numbers being drastic. Looking it up now.

    About 25pct or 151 PAs they list and Adames had a .248 vs .347 wOBA. .1 is easy to determine a +15 times he should reach on base.  

    I also mentioned with regards to Tellez his BABIP could be driven by his practically slowest speed running.  Tellez only jad a .02 difference between shifted and not shifted.  460PAs is about 9 more times he should been on base.

    Adames had a .278 BABIP while career sits .325. MLB avg shown on BRef at .294.  It's one reason to hold on to him this season vs trade as Adames should see an improved BA/OB.  The HRs and slg you can't determine +or- with shifting or not.

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    Some good stuff here. I think it's mistaken to blame shifts for low league-wide OPS last season--they changed the ball.
    And I'd like to know what the effect might be on our pitchers.

     

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    3 hours ago, Robocaller said:

    Some good stuff here. I think it's mistaken to blame shifts for low league-wide OPS last season--they changed the ball.
    And I'd like to know what the effect might be on our pitchers.

     

    Oh, for sure I don't think that the shift is to blame. I think it's a part of the overall bigger picture though. That being said, I'll throw my opinion in and say I'm actually not in favor of the ban of the shift, even if it is part of the downward trend of lower offense and ugly baseball. It is what it is though, and going forward whether teams and players are for or against it, they have to play within the boundaries that have been set (except maybe the Astros, somewhow hahaha) and the way I see it, if you're going to be a fan of baseball, you have to accept that the game changes, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Things can't go our way 100% of the time, all the time. 

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    6 hours ago, brewcrewdue80 said:

    While there will be benefits, the Brewers defense can't shift now either. I don't know their stats the last 2 seasons with playing shifts.  Now the big 3 are high k rate pitchers, Ashby/Lauer how will this affect them?  Houser is such a groundball inducing pitcher, I wonder if this hurts or helps him, considering the defense playing standard would cover more 1b-3b of the diamond. 

    You article got in to the LH batters, but I put something on Adames and his shift numbers being drastic. Looking it up now.

    About 25pct or 151 PAs they list and Adames had a .248 vs .347 wOBA. .1 is easy to determine a +15 times he should reach on base.  

    I also mentioned with regards to Tellez his BABIP could be driven by his practically slowest speed running.  Tellez only jad a .02 difference between shifted and not shifted.  460PAs is about 9 more times he should been on base.

    Adames had a .278 BABIP while career sits .325. MLB avg shown on BRef at .294.  It's one reason to hold on to him this season vs trade as Adames should see an improved BA/OB.  The HRs and slg you can't determine +or- with shifting or not.

     This is a fair point. I focused exclusively on left handed hitters because league wide, left handed batters were shifted on 55% of the time last year, while right handed batters were shifted on only 19% of the time. I think that's a pretty drastic difference.  Interesting that Adames was shifted that much as a RH batter.

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    13 minutes ago, bensheeps said:

    https://www.mlb.com/news/hitters-likely-to-be-affected-by-shift-ban

     

    mlb.com article saying that the Brewers have 3 of the 11 players that would have gained the most hits last year without shifts.  Taylor, Tellez, and Toro.

    Tellez in particular is very interesting

    He had a BABIP of 215 last year, and I remember in June time he had an expected slugging at the same level as Aaron Judge

    He hit a number of absolute missiles last year either to right field or right through the centre that were outs, I think if he gets anyway normal BABIP this year (streamer projecting a 258 which translates to an expected 810 OPS, and is hardly unreasonable) then hopefully we see more from him and the perception of him. His range might not be huge, but he has a very safe glove at 1B and I'm happy enough for him to man that most of the year

    Taylor is an interesting one, when you look at his spray chart, and the example shown is probably the biggest gap that will be open, just the pull side of 2B, but didnt realise he was this lop-sided

    Toro, I guess we'll see but Tellez absed on an increased BABIP and eliminating the shift (especially the short RF position) has me a little excited. Plus the dude is clutch

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    5 minutes ago, jakedood said:

    Tellez in particular is very interesting

    He had a BABIP of 215 last year, and I remember in June time he had an expected slugging at the same level as Aaron Judge

    He hit a number of absolute missiles last year either to right field or right through the centre that were outs, I think if he gets anyway normal BABIP this year (streamer projecting a 258 which translates to an expected 810 OPS, and is hardly unreasonable) then hopefully we see more from him and the perception of him. His range might not be huge, but he has a very safe glove at 1B and I'm happy enough for him to man that most of the year

    Taylor is an interesting one, when you look at his spray chart, and the example shown is probably the biggest gap that will be open, just the pull side of 2B, but didnt realise he was this lop-sided

    Toro, I guess we'll see but Tellez absed on an increased BABIP and eliminating the shift (especially the short RF position) has me a little excited. Plus the dude is clutch

    Before that .215 BABIP in 2022, Tellez's career BABIP was around .275. Even without the shift restrictions, he was likely to rebound. With the shift restrictions, he has a very good chance to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new rule year-over-year.

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    The problem is, shifts aren’t being banned. Putting your 3B/SS 50 yards into RF is being banned.

    We go back to how shifts were before. 2B shading towards 1B and playing on the back of the dirt…then the SS will virtually just be directly behind 2B. While we won’t see piss missiles getting caught by guys halfway into RF, those guys hitting the ball that much to one area are still at a big disadvantage in the grand scheme The MLB.com article does point that out.
     

    10 extra hits is nothing to sneeze at…but hardly world changing. Not to mention, as people have said, other teams will have guys benefit too. So even if you think we were one of the most unlucky teams against the shift, the gain is hardly anything to get excited about because it probably won’t matter much competitively. Maybe the games are more exciting though.

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    I saw this on another site regarding TT... TT will be just fine as our everyday RF.

    I did some quick "back of the napkin" math on Rowdy, Taylor and Toro just to kind of demonstrate what these extra hits could mean. I only assumed each hit was worth a single.
     
    Rowdy would have gone from .219/.306/.461 with a wRC+ of 110 to .234/.311/.476 and a wRC+ of *119-124
     
    Taylor would have gone from .233/.286/.442 with a wRC+ of 102 to .260/.311/.469 and a wRC+ of 117-121*
     
    Toro would have gone from .185/.239/.324 with a wRC+ of 62 to a .210/.255/.349 and a wRC+ of 71-74.
     
    * To get to this wRC+ projection I took raw OPS and compared it with how other people finished with that same raw OPS last year. And then I ranged it a bit to account for ballpark factors, which we just don't know. For instance, Rowdy's new raw OPS would have been .787 which would have been on par with guys like Justin Turner (.788), Alejandro Kirk (.786) and Josh Bell (.784). The wRC+ range on those guys was 123-129, but I felt like they played in less favorable ballparks.
     
    Of course, this is only basing it off last year. With a lot of guys getting a benefit from the shift, its doubtful the wRC+ impact would be as drastic with the entire league seeing increased offense. But I think it's worth noting that, for a guy like Tellez, 8 more singles raises his raw OPS by .20 points which is not an insignificant number, IMO.
     
    Also, the Brewers may very well be looking at this and feeling like Taylor could be a full-time player in 2023. His "new" raw OPS of .780 would have been 6th best among qualified CFs last year and 9th best among RFs. A wRC+ of 117 would have tied him with Seth Brown for 22nd among all qualified MLB OFs. Considering his defense would play up in either CF or RF, TT could be a very viable breakout candidate himself next season.
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    CheezWizHed
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    Two other ways it could impact the Brewers would be on pitching and defense. 

    Houser has been on the cusp of holding his SP spot and I think this will push him a little bit further down the list. Given how many SPs we have right now, I can't see him starting unless there are injuries. Miley might be negatively impacted by this also, but he starts with a bit more margin than Houser.

    For defense, I think this helps good range defenders like Turang. Huira keeps getting mentioned at 2B occasionally, but this really amplifies his weaknesses there. 

    Tellez is a zero range defensive player, but that might not matter as much at 1B given his expected bump offensively.  

    These are lesser impacts than offensively (for specific players), but still non-zero impacts.

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