I’ve written in the past about Carlos Santana’s performance against the shift.
We’ve known that he was one of the most shifted-against players in the majors, but how the shift impacted his stats was mostly a guess. In the link above I provided some numbers which indicated he was probably negatively impacted by the shift—a reasonable guess, since that’s obviously the purpose of shifting in the first place.
It turns out I was mostly right about past seasons, but Santana made some major strides in 2015.
Through IPL’s partnership with ESPN we have access to some very cool advanced stats, which gets expanded every year. A recent addition is a more in-depth base of stats for performances against shifts.
The stats in the chart show Santana’s numbers on balls in play against right-handed pitchers against the shift, and without the shift.
He was dramatically affected by the shift from 2012 through 2014 but, amazingly, he actually benefited from the shift in 2015.
His 2015 performance came despite the fact that he was shifted against in 78.5 percent of his plate appearances—the highest rate of his career (among plate appearances that ended with balls in play).
Santana turns 30 in April, so that significant jump in power we’ve been hoping for since he reached the majors in 2010 probably isn’t going to come.
But Santana’s performance against the shift is encouraging. Perhaps he’s becoming a smarter hitter as he ages, which bodes well for his potential to raise his batting average.
This is definitely a stat worth monitoring in 2016, as it could impact how pitchers attack Santana, which could have a ripple effect to his stats in other areas.