Ahead of the 2023 season, Major League Baseball is making some institutional changes that are attracting great interest from fans. A typical example is the limitation of defensive shift.
Many major league teams have analyzed the pitch distribution of the hitter over the past few years and used an optimized defensive shift for each player. In the midst of that, extreme shifts were born that left one side of the infield completely empty or put four defenders in the outfield. This is part of baseball’s strategy, but there were also critical opinions that rather harm the taste of seeing.
Accordingly, from this year, the major leagues nailed down a rule that two defenders should be on each side of second base. The defensive position of the players may be slightly biased depending on the batter data, but it is expected that it will be difficult to find the strange defensive formation that came out until last year. The players who can benefit from this are, paradoxically, players whose defensive shifts took a lot of hits until last year.
Choi Ji-man (32), who was traded and transferred to Pittsburgh ahead of this season, is also selected as a representative player who can benefit. Choi Ji-man also had a very high defensive shift ratio, and I remember many times losing money on this shift. Usually, the shift is effective for left-handed batters due to the distance to first base, but if the shift is limited, it can affect the batting average of only the best player. 스포츠토토
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an influential local media, selected Choi Man-man as one of the four players who could benefit from the shift restrictions in Pittsburgh. The opposing team shifted 83.9% of the time when Choi Ji-man entered the plate. It was also a shift that was mainly biased to the right.
Despite being a player with a fast batting speed, Choi Ji-man was often unable to break through the wall of shifts that were piled up tightly. The ‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ pointed out that Choi Ji-man’s weighted on-base percentage (wOBA) dropped significantly from 0.415 to 0.304 when the shift took place. His wOBA, which would have been 0.415 without the shift, dropped dramatically because of the shift.
Of course, he will try to shift as much as possible within the set rules, but if Choi Ji-man is freed from this ‘trap’, he can expect greatly improved offensive performance. In 2019, when he had the best performance, only Choi’s batting average was 0.261, which was not high, but his on-base percentage (.363) was more than 10% higher than his batting average, and he added 19 homers to it, achieving 20% better than the league OPS.
Since then, the gap between batting average and on-base percentage has held up nicely, but this year, even batting average has the potential to improve. If so, Choi’s overall scoring productivity will improve, and if so, he can enter the free agent (FA) market with his good performance. Perhaps the shackles that plagued him ahead of free agency have been loosened to some extent, so it can be said that Choi Ji-man is lucky.