Monday, September 16, 2013

Go read this piece on how the Pirates did it

Seriously. Now. Do it now. Go here and read it and think about what you've been watching this season.

Travis Sawchik wrote up an article for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on just how the Pirates transformed themselves into one of the premier National League teams in 2013. How? A defensive philosophy of getting pitchers to induce ground balls and positioning the defense to better align where batted balls are hit. (Gasp: SHIFTS!).

Fox researched where balls historically most often had been hit. He took evidence to Huntington that suggested the Pirates should change their defensive alignment. Fox suggested the Pirates not only increase their use of shifts but also alter where defenders, particularly infielders, are placed in base defenses...

The Pirates ratcheted up defensive experimentation last year, but it wasn't until this season that they dramatically changed the way they play defense, increasing their use of shifts by 400 percent. The Rays had shifted 453 times through Sept. 6 this season, second-most in baseball. The Pirates rank fourth.

That's not all there is to it, so definitely be sure to read it, and think about the Astros. It even stars A.J. Burnett as your resident Lucas Harrell, so read that, too.