Jun 17, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) watches from the dugout during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ned Yost is Using a New Defensive Shift

A great many adjectives have been used to describe Royals manager Ned Yost. Most of those adjectives are probably not suitable for a family oriented, G rated site such as what we have here. However, there are some descriptives that likely have not been used in conjunction with Yost, such as innovative and progressive.

Last night showed that maybe the Stolid Ned that we have all come to know and criticize has a bit more creativity than one would have expected. He has changed his lineup around, keeping Lorenzo Cain as the leadoff hitter and dropping Nori Aoki to ninth in the lineup. Moving Eric Hosmer up to second actually worked, as he has gone on a 14 game hitting streak. Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon are actually slotted where they should be in the lineup. This may be as close to an optimal lineup as the Royals have had in some time.

That ingenuity extended to the defense last night. With the Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz at the plate, every team has employed a defensive shift, putting three infielders on the right side and either the third baseman or the shortstop at short. Ned Yost took that defense a step further, putting all four infielders on the right side and daring Ortiz to actually hit the ball to the opposite field.

As strange as the defensive alignment happened to be, it worked. This new way of positioning the infield even came in handy when Ortiz popped up near the mound, and Mike Moustakas was right there to catch the ball after it tipped off the webbing of Hosmer’s glove. It may be that, if this defensive alignment proves to be successful this weekend, that other teams employ that shift, placing all four infielders on the right side of the diamond.

While David Ortiz is known to occasionally drop a bunt down the third base line to try to keep the defense honest, one can certainly live with that result. It is better having Ortiz leg out a bunt single and clogging up the bases instead of being in a position to do some actual damage should he swing the bat. The regular shift has also frustrated Ortiz before – how will he react to the Royals exaggerated shift?

Should the Royals new shift work, it may be employed by other teams around baseball. If that happens, then there could be another adjective used to describe Ned Yost: innovative. Who would have thought that would ever be the case?

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