Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell Plans On Using The Bunt To Beat Shift
With the Boston Red Sox dealing with the loss of David Ortiz they have to start handling issues differently and evolve their current strategies to help lead the team to success. One of the areas where they are seeking to change their philosophy is their reaction to when teams shift on their hitters.
Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Boston Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. 408 came against retired DH David Ortiz. Jackie Bradley who faced 224 shifts was second on the team last season.
Manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach evolve to help them handle the shift better this upcoming season.
“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”
Farrell made sure to note that JBJ is one of the guys they are going to have to help change and beat the shift by keeping teams honest.
“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,’” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.
“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”