No shift in philosophy: Royals do own thing

No shift in philosophy: Royals do own thing

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While much of Major League Baseball arguably has become shift-happy, once again, the Royals go their own way with a philosophy.

Only four teams in baseball -- the Marlins, Mets, Tigers and Red Sox -- have shifted fewer times this season than the Royals.

"We do if it warrants it," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

And that isn't often. According to fangraphs.com, the Royals have shifted for 82 batters this season. The Astros, who shift more than anyone, have shifted for 296 batters.

Yost isn't really that interested in what other teams do.

"That's their deal," Yost said. "Not our deal.

"We just do our homework. I don't know how anyone else does it. We'll shift but it's only on guys that (coach Mike Jirschele) thinks we need to shift."

Jirschele spends about three hours a day on video of opponents.

"Jirsch's homework tells us when to shift," Yost said. "You look at the percentage of ground balls and where the pitch is made."

To be fair, the Royals do a lot of "mini-shifting," sometimes within an at-bat. And the shift is so subtle, it may not get recorded as a shift.

"I consider Esky [shortstop Alcides Escobar] my rover," Jirschele said. "We'll shift in the middle of an at-bat with him. We start one way and if it gets to 2-0, we'll shift back. Or if it gets to 0-2, we'll shift.

"But our shifts aren't as dramatic. A lot of it is how we pitch guys, too.

"I don't know how other teams do it. But it's not like we're against shifting. We do it. But maybe we do it more by shading certain guys a certain way."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.