JUPITER, Fla. -- Advanced defensive metrics continue to grow throughout the Major Leagues, and some teams rely so heavily on the data that they are constantly adjusting infielders all over the diamond.
The Marlins saw a heavy shifting team on Monday when the Astros were at Roger Dean Stadium. Repeatedly, Houston shifted its second baseman over second whenever the right-handed-hitting Ty Wigginton stepped into the box. Once, Wigginton found the hole on a ground ball to the second-base side, in a spot that had the second baseman been in his normal spot, he could have made a play.
The Rays shift more than anyone in the game.
The Marlins evaluate all the data and review spray charts, but they aren't ready to become shift-happy. One reason is the organization has Perry Hill as its infield coach. Hill has his own charts and system to put infielders in spots to make plays.
"I just feel like we have the best infield instructor in baseball," manager Mike Redmond said. "This guy has had a system put in place for a long time. I've seen that system work and win a World Series. Will there be guys that we shift? Of course. As we continue to gather information on hitters in the league, for sure. As far as over-shifting, I don't think that will be becoming our philosophy."
Hill's system adjusts the shortstop and second baseman several feet each way, depending on the batter. In the case of some lefty power threats, like Ryan Howard of the Phillies, the Marlins will employ the standard shift, with the second baseman in short right field, and the third baseman either at shortstop or up the middle.
"I think there are certain guys that you shift," Redmond said. "I think everyone knows those guys. I'm not an over-shifter. I know some teams love to shift everybody. The Rays, I know, shift a lot of guys according to how they pitch. I think some of that is good. I've just seen over the course of time that maybe it could get you in more trouble than it helps you, in my opinion.
"We go through spray charts and look at where guys hit the ball. We feel like the system that [Hill] has put our defense in is the best position to make plays. Now, is there going to be a ball that goes through the hole that maybe we're out of position on? Of course. But that happens when you shift. I guess it's just philosophy. Some people like to over-shift, and they feel like that gives them the best chance, defensively."