Defensive positioning

PNC Park
PNC Park - Matt Bandi/PLC

Earlier in the season, I took a stab at breaking down the Pirates’ unusual outfield alignments. About a week after writing that article, I set out to gather some additional data. I wanted to get a better idea of where the outfielders were positioning themselves for various batters. So on April 21st, I grabbed my camera and headed to PNC Park. Well, things never really panned out. I photographed the Pirates’ defensive positioning for the first 16 Brewers hitters, but I didn’t really know what to do with the data. After studying the photos a bit, I forgot about them and moved on to something else.

After catching some of the recent Pitch f/x Summit in San Francisco, which focused primarily on the new Field f/x system, I decided to dust off the photos. I plotted the Pirates’ defensive positioning for each of those 16 batters. Red dots indicate positioning for right-handed batters, while blue dots indicate a left-handed hitter. Prince Fielder was the only lefty in the lineup on this evening, so the left-handed sample is very limited.



As a caveat, these are only approximate defender locations. I did my best to estimate each fielder’s location based on photos similar to the one above, but they are still just estimates. I had particular difficulty determining the fielder’s depth.

The one thing that sticks out to me is that the team did not play the so-called “No-Triples” defense, in which the left fielder shifts drastically toward center field, as much as it appeared. In this game, Lastings Milledge was only positioned in left-center for two or three hitters.

Do you have any other thoughts when looking at this information?





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