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  1. #1
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    Infield Drawn In

    Does anybody know what sabermetician's say about bringing the infield in to prevent a runner on 3rd from scoring? I've always felt that this was an overrated defensive move. I would think the odds of the run scoring would actually increase due to a ball getting passed the drawn in infield, ala Luis Gonzalez's flair over a drawn in Derek Jeter in the 2001 World Series. Does anybody know if this has ever been studied?

  2. #2
    I have always had the same question. Every time I have seen the infield drawn in a ground ball shoots through a hole that would have been fielded had the infield played at normal or even double play depth. It would be interesting to see a study on this subject.

  3. #3
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    Playing the IF at normal depth with a runner on 3B and less than 2 outs will almost always result in the run scoring - the reason is simple. The runner breaks with the crack of the bat and there simply is not enough time for the fielder to get the ball to home for the play.

    That having been said, I agree - anecdotally anyway, the infield in rarely seems to work.

  4. #4
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    For the drawn in infield to work the ball must be hit sharply and right to or pretty close to a infielder. And I just don't like those chances.
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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by 12soriano2B
    For the drawn in infield to work the ball must be hit sharply and right to or pretty close to a infielder. And I just don't like those chances.
    That's exactly my point. The chances are greater that the ball is going to be hit over the infielder's head, or too sharply to be able to make a play on it. Whereas if the infielders were at their normal depth, the run might score but the defense has a better chance at creating an out (and preventing an additional runner from reaching base). I guess it depends on the situation. If it's the bottom of the 9th inning with a tie score and a runner is on 3rd and no outs, then I guess you have no choice but to pull the infield in. But otherwise, I really don't like this strategy as it is the defensive equivilant to "giving away outs."
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  6. #6
    Originally posted by NelsonMuntz

    That's exactly my point. The chances are greater that the ball is going to be hit over the infielder's head, or too sharply to be able to make a play on it. Whereas if the infielders were at their normal depth, the run might score but the defense has a better chance at creating an out (and preventing an additional runner from reaching base). I guess it depends on the situation. If it's the bottom of the 9th inning with a tie score and a runner is on 3rd and no outs, then I guess you have no choice but to pull the infield in. But otherwise, I really don't like this strategy as it is the defensive equivilant to "giving away outs."
    Agreed.

    I think the problem is that today's managers don't seem to like to try new strategies. If Torre doesn't pull the infield in and a slow dribbler scores a run, he will get blasted by the media the next day. However, if he pulls the infield in and the ball is hit hard by the infield, well, the infield in just didn't work that time.

  7. #7
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    Interesting question.

    I always thought that pulling the infield in, which is becoming an automatic move, based on score, should depend more on the player at 3rd and at the plate.

    If you have someone fast, like a Carl Crawford, and a Rocco Baldelli type at the plate, than I think that bringing the infield in would be a good strategy.

    If it was Aubrey Huff though, that is bad baseball...Huff is more likely to hit a sharp grounder/hard hit ball than Baldelli is. The Huff Hit is more likely to go through the infield.

    To find out if there is conclusive evidence that pulling in the infield is good/bad strategy, you'd probably have to become well aquainted with Retrosheet.
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  8. #8
    Registered User ForceFive's Avatar
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    What it's really about is preventing that individual runner on 3rd from scoring, obviously. And so much depends on the speed of the runner on 3rd.

    But the thing of it is, if the INF is playing back (with the idea that they will be able to reach more balls due to being positioned further back), that doesn't help them from keeping the runner from advancing from 3rd to home.

    If it's a tie game in the 8th inning, 1 out, runner on 3rd, what good does it do to play back and reach a grounder in the 2nd/1st hole, which enables the 2nd baseman to throw out the hitter at 1st, but allows the runner to score from 3rd????

    Yes, that would stop any extended rally from occuring, but the deed is done; the go-ahead run has scored. So while your CHANCES of stopping a BASEHIT from occuring get better, your chances of stopping the RUN from scoring do not (unless it's a slow runner at 3rd - but that brings another factor into this whole debate).

    Fact is, at a desperate point of the game such as the one above, the first priority is to use the strategy that will give you the best chance to keep that runner anchored at 3rd. Yes, you will reach fewer grounders by playing in... but by playing back, you have next to no chance at throwing that runner out at the plate, even if it's hit right at someone. At least if the INF is playing in, if it IS hit right at someone, you're stopping that run from scoring.

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