announcements

New Baseball Rule Option: Defensive Shifts

By Glenn Guzzo
 

            Strat-O-Matic Baseball makes you a big-league manager – and soon you will be able to deploy an increasingly popular big-league strategy.

            As the Major Leagues’ use of the defensive shift has multiplied each year in recent seasons, Strat-O-Matic gamers have inquired how they might adopt the strategy. The game company has the answer – an easy-to-use rule that will simulate the way the shift reduces batting average against pull-hitters, but backfires against others.

            The Super Advanced Shift Rule will become part of the official rules and options for the 2016 season cards and Windows game (and may be used for prior seasons).

            This optional rule is the latest in a long line of options Strat-O-Matic has offered gamers to capture strategic and statistical realism as the sport has evolved. Lefty-righty performance breakdowns, ballpark effects, closer rules, the Super-Advanced fielding chart and various base-advancement options are among many more advancements over the past 45 seasons since Strat-O-Matic’s Advanced game debuted in 1972 (1971 season).

            Here’s how the new shift rule will work:

            n The defense may call for a defensive shift any time that the bases are empty and the batter is rated Power N.

            n    If the shift is employed, the offense chooses either to “Swing Away” or tries to “Beat the Shift.”

             n   Then roll a 20-sided die along with the other 3 dice. If a 1 or 2 occurs on the 20-sided die then consult the following chart using the single white die from the initial roll for the play outcome (you do not refer to the player cards in this case):



 


LEFT HANDED BATTER


 


 


 


RIGHT HANDED BATTER


 


 


Swing Away


Beat Shift


 


 


Swing Away


Beat Shift


1


HR(rf)1-8, Do 9-20


DOUBLE (lf)


1


HR(lf)1-8, Do 9-20


DOUBLE (rf)


2


gb (2b) B


SINGLE (lf)


 


2


gb (2b) B


SINGLE (rf)


3


gb (2b) B


SINGLE (lf)


 


3


gb (2b) B


SINGLE (rf)


4


gb (ss) B


gb (3b) B


 


4


gb (ss) B


gb (1b) B


5


gb (ss) B


gb (3b) B


 


5


gb (ss) B


gb (1b) B


6


gb (1b) B


gb (3b) B


 


6


gb (3b) B


gb (1b) B

 

            n If a 3 through 20 occurs on the 20-sided die then use the other three dice to determine the play result by reading it from the card as you normally would, with the following exception:

            If the offense has called "Beat the Shift" and the play result is a homerun and the initial 20-sided die roll was a 3 through 8 then the play result may be over-ridden. Since the offense has tried to beat the shift by hitting to the opposite side of the field, the batter's power has been diminished.  So if a homerun occurs in this circumstance then roll a single die to determine the play result:



Die Roll


Result


1


Homerun


2


Homerun


3


Homerun


4


Double


5


Double


6


Single

 

            When it shifts, the defense may not bring the corners in to defend against the bunt.

            All GB () X results are resolved as usual, whether or not the shift is used.

Analysis:   Like all of its strategy options, “there is a purposeful risk/reward built into this rule that allows the offense a choice when the defense utilizes the shift,” Strat-O-Matic advises.  “If your opponent is too quick to shift, sometimes you should use the `Beat Shift’ option, which will raise your batter’s average at the expense of some of his power.  After getting burned with a few base hits your opponent might not be so willing to shift.  However, if you overuse the `Beat Shift’ option you too might get burned as a ball that would have been pulled over the fence for a home run might end up being an opposite field double instead.”

            This rule is designed to mimic a full “Ted Williams-style” shift. Although Major League teams sometimes shift with players on base, they do so with alignments that do not mimic the full Ted Williams-style shifts and that also complicate base advancement.

            With its stipulation that the shift apply only to players with N power and its prohibition against bringing the corners in, the SOM rule reflects that, even as MLB shift deployment has multiplied, many players – especially spray hitters and speedy runners who are a threat to bunt – never are shifted against. 

            For realistic play with older seasons, Strat-O-Matic recommends sharply limiting use of the shift. “While shifts have been around since before Ted Williams played, they were used sparingly before the 2010's,” the game company notes.

            Even in current seasons, “this rule has the ability to alter the statistical accuracy of the game if it is abused,” Strat-O-Matic warns. “For example, if the batters never try to defeat the shift with `Beat Shift’ then the league batting average could drop a point or two.  However, with normal usage this rule will not significantly affect your statistics.”

 

Doing Windows: In the Windows game, the shift rule is turned on or off under Max Rules. On the game screen, select “Defensive Shift” from the Position Defense dialog. When the offense clicks or selects "Swing Away" a new dialog appears that offers two choices.  The offense can either swing away or it can choose to try to beat the shift ("Beat Shift").

            Although teams deploy shifts in varying ways, on game screens you will see a consistent alignment: three infielders positioned on the right side and the third baseman in the shortstop position – the full Ted Williams-style shift.

            “Some Major League teams will move the fielders around in such a way so that they no longer appear as 3b/SS/2b/1b from left to right across the infield,” the Windows game Help File notes. “Even though that sometimes happens it can be confusing as to which fielder has the ball so in our game so we always position the fielders in the natural order from left to right across the screen.”