MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been 66 years since Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau drew attention to the infield shift by moving his defenders to the right-field side against Boston slugger Ted Williams.
The "Boudreau Shift" of 1946 has seen many adaptations over the years, but perhaps there is more position shifting in today's game than ever before. The amount of information available on the hitting habits of players is immense and detailed in this computerized age.
For example, teams are shifting these days on the Royals' Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon with increasing frequency.
"Especially on Hosmer you've got more information now," manager Ned Yost said. Indeed, the details of his productive rookie season have been digitized to the extreme.
"The third baseman kind of moves in the 5-6 hole and they're shading the middle a lot more," Hosmer said. "The Indians have done it, the Blue Jays and the Twins do it a little bit, too."
He once bunted successfully toward third base and beat the shift. The left-handed hitter admits, though, his ability to slap the ball to the left-field side is limited.
Before Sunday's game against the Twins, Yost thumbed through some brightly colored computer-generated charts on batters' tendencies -- a refined version of the "spray charts" that Whitey Herzog and other managers once drew by hand.
"We've got it broken down by ground balls against right-handed and left-handed [pitchers] so you'll see where the percentage of ground balls are hit so you play your percentages," Yost said. "That's why you see exaggerated shifts on [Justin] Morneau and [Joe] Mauer and those guys because the numbers say you do it."
Hosmer has certainly noticed the trend, particularly as his average was .198 going into Sunday's game despite hitting a lot of balls very hard but right at people.
"We do it a lot more, too. A lot of teams are shifting a lot more now," Hosmer said. "It's probably the newest thing that's happened since last year. There's a lot more guys that we're doing it on, too, so somebody must have brought something up at some offseason meetings or something."