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. Now 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.
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.