#Hot Corner

When infield shifts happen

USA TODAY Sports

Most managers do basically the same stuff. This one might steal a little more, this one might bunt a little less. But even the buntingest and stealingest managers don't bunt and steal as much as managers bunted and stole 20 or 30 years ago; managers go with the herd, which probably makes sense because they probably gravitate toward the best tactics over time.

Which is what makes infield shifts so fascinating. They've been around for a long, long time. But until recently, they were quite rare. Lately, though, some managers have embraced them ... and some still disdain them. There's not yet any sort of Conventional Wisdom.

Baseball Info Solutions' John Dewan has just published an update on this season's shifts, and my favorite thing is that veteran manager Buck Showalter has deployed the shift 344 times ... and veteran manager Charlie Manuel has deployed the shift 23 times. Those are the extremes, but those guys aren't alone; four other managers have shifted at least 291 times, and four other managers have shifted fewer than 40 times. More than anything else, I suspect, extreme infield shifts divide today's managers. And it'll be fun to see how long it takes to find some general consensus.

A couple of other things ... Dewan has the Orioles saving 10 runs with the shifts, and the Phillies saving none (or actually losing one run). This isn't a huge difference, but of course you want your manager taking the runs wherever he can find them. Also, Dewan recommends that managers, even Showalter and his ilk, do a lot more shifting.

Stay tuned. This might get even more interesting.

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