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I have never seen fielders in positions that would hardly be recognisable as the "standard" positions, and probably for good reason. (I mean a positioning where a casual observer might have difficulty identifying who is playing which position.)

However, are there known (modern) instances where teams/coaches (competing on the highest levels) chose for a "radically" different field placement on specific occasions?

(Examples might be: 1) the third-baseman is placed in the outfield, or 2) the second-baseman is placed in the outfield, or 3) the right-fielder is placed between the third-baseman and the shortstop, or ...)

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Ron Roenicke, manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, has brought in an outfielder to be a fifth infielder on numerous "sudden-death" occasions.

For example, the game is tied, the Brewers are the road team, and the home team has a man on 3B with one out.

If the runner at third is the only runner, then Ron Roenicke typically walks the next batter (and will walk another if that first walked batter steals second) to set up the double play.

Then he brings in one of the outfielders to fill a gap in the infield.

It appears that this happened most recently in a game in Pittsburgh on June 30, 2013 – and it worked!

Pedro Alvarez came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the 13th. The Brewers (32-48) shifted an outfielder in for a fifth infielder and Alvarez hit into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning.

– Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Roenicke has employed this strategy at least once in each of his first three years managing the Brewers.

Try searching for "fifth infielder" brewers to find other instances.

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Excellent! Many thanks, also for the search suggestion. (I found that "5-man infield" also gives good results.) I also found the Rays (even in the 2008 World Series) and the Marlins doing similar things. –  user1564 Aug 1 '13 at 23:06

One of the defensive ploys that manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays has employed is to shift the field heavily to right field when left-handed hitters (such as Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz) come to bat. He was one of the first coaches to use to this against Ortiz and now almost every MLB employs a similar defensive shift. (Source)

Also last year Toronto Blue Jays third-baseman Brett Lawrie boasted an extremely high fielding percentage based on the fact that he was shifted between the shortshop and second basemen when left-handed hitters came to bat. (Source)

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Nice! Great source. Thanks a lot! –  user1564 Aug 7 '13 at 15:34

(I can't find a reference right now) I seem to remember during the 2014 post-season (possibly during the World Series?) that the Kansas City Royals shifted all the outfielders and the Short Stop between 1st and 2nd, where the batter had a steady history of hitting, but left most of the rest of the field uncovered.

Sure enough, the batter hit right into the middle of the fielders, and they got a trivial out.

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Nowadays this happens pretty regularly - it was less common when the question was initially asked, but see this article for example; the number of shifts has dramatically increased in the last few years. –  Joe Apr 21 at 17:53

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