The Angels won't just be shifting depending on each hitter; they'll start shifting within counts.
"I think we saw enough success with it last year that everybody's ready to take that next small step," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, emphasizing that the Angels won't "recreate the wheel" and will only do what Mike Scioscia and his players are comfortable with.
Heading into the 2014 season, the Angels hired Rick Eckstein to be their player-information coach and head a team of statistical analysts who pored through spray charts to help set up the Angels' defensive alignments for each series. Rico Brogna took over the role when Eckstein left for the University of Kentucky in the middle of August, and Brogna is back again.
The key is to incorporate the concepts slowly.
"We don't want to teach them to swim by throwing them into the deep end of the pool with no floaties," Dipoto said. "We want to teach them along the way, where they learn to trust the process, learn to trust the importance."
The Angels acquire spray charts from a Baseball Info Solutions program called "Bis-D" and present it to the coaches, who cross-reference it with the internal spray charts compiled by video coordinator Diego Lopez, as well as their own baseball acumen.
First-base coach Alfredo Griffin and bench coach Dino Ebel are in charge of moving the position players in-game, but the pitchers have to cooperate by attacking hitters based on the shift.
Teams throughout baseball shifted a lot more last year, and the Astros, Indians and Blue Jays were among the American League teams that took it to the next level by incorporating it within at-bats. When there was a 3-1 count on Mike Trout, for example, the Astros would play him to pull by moving their second baseman towards the shortstop hole.
The Angels are seemingly moving in that direction.
"Last year, we took it to the next level, and we started incorporating it based on spray charts and our opponents," Dipoto said. "This year, you have the chance to turn the dial a little bit more. We know more about our competition, we know more about how to read the numbers, we know more about the comfort zones with our players."