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But in 2013, with the shift, the sum of players involved in double plays was 419, the fourth most in the league.

Their pitchers’ earned run average dropped to 3.26 from 3.86.

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But the pitchers objected, saying they did not feel comfortable with a defense overloaded to one side of the infield and a gaping hole on the other.

“But once other managers and teams saw the Rays doing it successfully, perhaps they didn’t feel as if they were going out on a limb so much, and wouldn’t be criticized when someone happens to get a hit against the shift.”Following the Rays, the Houston Astros have embraced the shift with zeal, from the depths of their minor leagues up to the majors.

As of the weekend they had employed 368 shifts, more than one per inning and far more than any other team, even the Rays.“It’s an epiphany,” Maddon said.

Some baseball positions as they have long been known are changing before our eyes.

The cause is the infield shift, a phenomenon exploding this year as more teams are using statistical analysis and embracing a dynamic approach to previously static defenses.

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