Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sandberg will employ defensive shifts

During Wednesday's game against the Braves, three Phillies infielders slid to the right side of second base when Freddie Freeman stepped into the batter's box. Sandberg plans to use data to shift more often in 2014.

Sandberg will employ defensive shifts

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

The more information you have, the better chance you'll have at being successful. That, of course, is the logic of baseball people who employ advanced metrics into their decision making.

The Phillies have been criticized for being slow to jump on the sabermetrics train. But Sandberg said the team will use spray chart data to shift their defense around more often, a tactic the Pittsburgh Pirates used last year en route to their best season in more than two decades.

"I was aware that they were doing it," Sandberg said. "(Pittsburgh) wasn’t the only team doing it, but they pitched to it effectively and the way their season went, I think it worked well for them."

Sandberg said the Phillies will have the info at their finger tips all the time: spray charts for the opposing team's righthanded and lefthanded hitters and results of batted balls from their own starting pitchers and relievers. It will be utilized accordingly.

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On Wednesday, three Phillies infielders moved to the right side of the diamond when Braves lefthanded-hitting Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate in the third inning. Freeman singled to left.

"We’re going to play with it a little bit," Sandberg said of shifts. "Once we get our charts and everything, make a decision. Sometimes it may be dependent on the game. Right there there were two outs in the inning and wind blowing out to right field. (We’d be) happy with him trying to take a stroke the other way. Even though it wasn’t a ground ball, it changes his approach at the plate with two outs."

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