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Sunday May 2, 2010 6:21 pm

Ortiz and The Shift

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

David OrtizA lot of noise has been made recently over Terry Francona’s pinch-hitting for David Ortiz in recent weeks. It’s never happened in Ortiz’s career, but let’s face it, Ortiz has lost a thing or two in his swing lately. His terribly slow start to 2009 was just the beginning, and 2010 hasn’t been much different for the DH home run champion. Ortiz’s struggles aren’t helped by the fact that whenever he steps to the plate, he’s already at a disadvantage thanks to the defensive positioning known as “The Shift”.

Essentially, The Shift involves turning the third baseman into a shortstop, a shortstop into a second baseman, and the second baseman into the equivalent of a rover in softball. The reasoning is that guys like Ortiz and Ryan Howard, for example, are tremendously more likely to hit the ball hard to the right side than they are the left. All you need to do is look at a spray chart and you can see that Ortiz is best when driving the ball to right.

People question why those who are shifted against don’t learn how to hit to the other side of the field, as that would make them even more of a threat, but that’s not why the big swinger is in the majors. Guys like Ortiz and Howard are just that dangerous with only half of the field in their wheelhouse. Asking them to learn how to spray it the other way would only take away from their effectiveness.

Ortiz does try to slap the ball to the left side, but he’s far more effective when he just goes out there and does what he’s paid millions to do. The fact that the defense puts on The Shift against him hasn’t taken away from his ability to drive in runs over the years. He’s only getting himself out now. The application of the shift as a defensive positioning against Ortiz and others like him merely evens the odds against the defense. Ortiz just needs to go out there and swing away and he’ll be alright.



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