MLB Divisional Playoffs, AL Edition in Sports Posted October 6, 2008 · Report reply As an aside, Bill James raised a good point on the shift. What's the point? If the offense wanted, they could beat you with a single the other way. So the purpose is really to negate the hitter's power. If he parks one, it's going over their heads anyway. Well, sure, there's nothing that a team can do through defensive alignment to deal with a home run (or any of the "three true outcomes", for that matter), but a team can still use the shift to reduce the potential chances for a hit from that player. Of course, I don't think there aren't a lot of statistics out there that can really prove or disprove the validity of the strategy; defensive positioning is still out beyond the fog of statistical analysis and, without some kind of game charting to show exactly what shift was applied and how many times a hitter beat that shift, there's no way to discern that it actually works outside of your usual anecdotally-fueled hosannas. But simply citing the greatest negative outcome available (a line drive the other way) doesn't negate the effectiveness of the strategy by default; what are the odds that a hitter with a hit distribution profile skewed enough to warrant the shift is going to be proficient enough at contact to make such a precise hit? As for the chances that the hitter drops a bunt to "beat" the shift, I would imagine that situation still plays to the advantage of the defense, just out of sheer game theory. There aren't many pull-happy sluggers that are also renowned for their bunting ability and, even for those that are competent enough, the play itself still takes away the hitter's greatest strengths at the plate.