Curtis Granderson and the extreme shift

If you missed Opening Day then you missed what the Rays did to Curtis Granderson – they used the extreme shift on him that is often reserved for Mark Teixeira.┬áNow as far as I can remember, teams really never used to shift on Granderson before or if they did it was very infrequently. However there is a chance that it could happen more often.

The above graph is Teixeira’s hit chart. It’s easy to notice that mostly everything is hit to right field so it’s easy to see why teams use the shift against him.

Now take a look at Granderson’s hit chart. It’s very similar. The biggest difference are the balls that were hit up against or over the wall.

If you remove the home runs and triples from Granderson’s chart it begins to look very similar to Teixeira’s. So when he’s not hitting the ball out of the park, Granderson pulls the ball almost as much as Teixeira does which is why there is a decent chance that we will see the shift happen more often on Granderson in the future.

There is one huge difference between Granderson and Teixeira and that is that Granderson might bunt. Or at least, he has more experience bunting and is more likely to actually reach base with his speed once he lays it down.

Granderson actually did this later on in the game. With the shift applied, Granderson showed bunt which forced Evan Longoria over from shortstop back to third base. However, the shortstop Sean Rodriguez remained in the extreme shift position at second base and ultimately made the play to get Granderson out.

So Granderson is going to have to do more than just show a bunt. He’s probably going to have to actually lay down a few. What likely could start happening though is that teams will start employing a sort of hybrid-shift like Joe Maddon did last night. Have the third baseman stay at third while the shortstop moves to second and the second baseman moves to short right. This would lead the left side where the shortstop normally is wide open for Granderson though.

This is where Granderson can start exploiting the shift. If teams pull the hybrid-shift against him then all of those blue dots near the shortstop position would start turning into hits. There aren’t a lot of them, but there could be enough to keep teams from trying it on him.

First he would need to start laying down bunts though otherwise teams might stick with the straight shift which might hurt Granderson’s numbers this season.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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4 Responses to Curtis Granderson and the extreme shift

  1. David K. says:

    This is why I was not that happy with Granderson's season last year. He hit a lot of homers but his average was low and there were a lot of strikeouts. If he doesn't have another great season power-wise, then he likely will have a so-so kind of year this year. I'd like to see him hit more line drives and use the whole field, cut down on the strikeouts, get on base more. We've got a lot of guys like this in our lineup, homer happy strikeout kings. it does not translate well to the playoffs.

    • Curtis Granderson's season last year was one of the best all-around by a Yankee ever. I'm sorry that you didn't appreciate it.

      • David K. says:

        You gotta be kidding me. He had a better year than any of Don Mattingly's great years? It was better than any of Bernie Williams' best years? It was comparable to any of the great years that Mickey Mantle, Joe D, Gehrig or Ruth, etc had? I'm sorry, but just in the last 30 years, there have been a lot of Yankee players who had much better years than Granderson did in 2011. That said, I didn't say he had a bad year. Just that he did not have as good a year as the stat totals will lead you to believe. Unfortunately, we have at least two other guys who are in a similar mold as hitters, and this does not translate to playoff success. Keep swinging for the fences and ignore the shift guys, let's see how far we get this year.

      • David K. says:

        Robbie Cano also had a better year than Granderson. Wouldn't you agree?

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