Historically Weird Day of Postseason Baseball, How Shift Limits Will Impact Various Teams, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Historically Weird Day of Postseason Baseball, How Shift Limits Will Impact Various Teams, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • Well, it’s going to be a weird one in baseball today. Thanks to Game Five of Guardians-Yankees being rained out, and because it had already been pushed back, you now will have two DIFFERENT rounds of the MLB postseason playing on the same day for the first time in history.
  • Game Five of the ALDS is at 3:07pm CT, and then Game One of the NLCS is at 7:07pm CT. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros will kick off the ALCS tomorrow against whichever of the Guardians or Yankees wins today. Quite an advantage for them, I’d think, as both the Yankees (Nestor Cortes) and Guardians (Shane Bieber) are considering going with starters on short rest, which obviously wears them down even faster. Tentatively sounds like Cortes is gonna do it, but the Guardians have been more reluctant on Bieber. (I agree. Keep Bieber healthy for the offseason trade to the Cubs.)
  • As for last night’s rainout, it was pretty poorly handled for the fans in attendance in New York, but MLB offered an explanation:
  • At the end of the regular season, Codify looked at MLB teams’ rates of shifting, which seems pretty interesting now that we know there will be shift restrictions in place in 2023:
  • If the bottom is cut off for you, it’s shifts versus right-handed batters, scaling from 5% up to 40%. As you can see, the Cubs were among the more shifty teams in 2022 (approaching top ten in each), but definitely not extreme. The differences between most of the teams there in that juicy middle are not all that significant. So, then, for the Cubs, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a *disproportionate* impact on the defensive side because of the shift restrictions, whereas you could arguably see some bumps in the road for the Astros and Dodgers as they adjust and find their next edge (clearly they always do).
  • Obviously a lot of the impact is going to be dependent on personnel, and will create interesting new incentives in free agency and trade. The conventional wisdom is that teams with more athleticism up the middle will fare better in the new world with two defenders on each side of second base, all having to be on the dirt. I think that’s going to be true – and is yet another reason for the Cubs to aggressively pursue a strong middle infield defender in free agency – but I wonder if we haven’t given enough thought to the impact on the corner infield spots AND the outfield.
  • To my mind, while middle infielders have always done the most extreme shifting and generally face more batted balls than the corners, if you’re taking away some of the flexibility of those guys to move around, doesn’t that also increase your defensive reliance on the corners? In an extreme shift world, the defensive limitations of a first baseman are a whole lot easier to hide, because you’ve pulled that shortstop over into the deep hole in the outfield. That first baseman doesn’t really have to range for much. Now? Against lefties, you’re going to have just the standard second baseman and that first baseman over there to cover everything. It seems that means you not only need a really rangy and athletic second baseman, but you’d definitely be helped by having someone at first who isn’t just a plodding thumb of a man.
  • That’s where the outfield thing comes in, too: if you have a little more range in center field and right field, I would think the loss of that short-right-shifted shortstop would sting less.
  • Same discussion goes for third base, though you generally have better athletes there to begin with than at first base. Still, the importance of range and athleticism is assuredly going to go up for third base, right? It’s the whole infield, not just the middle infield. And I think there’s a little outfield impact, too. Anyway, point is: I would think quality defense is going to increase in value across the spectrum next year, not just in the middle infield.
  • The Cardinals have extended their GM Michael Girsch and Scouting Director Randy Flores. The two have served in those roles under president John Mozeliak for just about five years now, and given the Cardinals’ continued success, there was no reason to break up the band.
  • Hotel packages for Cubs Convention go on sale tomorrow:
  • If you were curious, the only active Cubs players to appear in the video are Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ.
  • The awards schedule for next month:
  • The Cubs don’t figure to have any finalists, though I would love to see some down-the-ballot votes for Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel on ROY.
  • Just a fun idea for a clip, and please don’t be too hard on the Cubs at the start:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.