Sunday, June 01, 2014

Yasiel Puig Won't Have Any Of That Stupid Shift

I was pleasantly surprised to see Yasiel Puig top's list of "baseball's most shift-proof hitters":

If you think Puig is still a wild, uncontrollable, hacking machine who's up there wailing away, here's our advice: It's time to start watching him more closely.

According to Baseball Info Solutions, he'd been shifted on in only 1.3 percent of his plate appearances through Monday. And that, just as much as his .345* average and .440* on-base percentage, is an indication of how tough he has become to both pitch to and defend.

Over his career, Puig has pulled the ball in 77 percent of his ground balls and short line drives, a fairly high rate for a guy who isn't shifted on much. But when one NL scout who helps devise his team's shift strategies was asked why Puig has gotten so shift-proof in his second year in the big leagues, the scout replied: "You just can't do it anymore."

"The reason is .345* and that high on-base percentage," he said. "He's going line to line now. He's not chasing much. And he's spitting on those sliders off the plate that he used to swing at. Too much strength to all fields to shift on."

No other NL West player makes the top five.