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Numbers show effectiveness of Astros' defensive shifts

BALTIMORE -- The Astros' faith in using defensive shifts with regularity was rewarded recently when a third-party entity contracted by the club provided information that showed the Astros led baseball in extra outs collected on defense.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow shared the information with third-base coach Pat Listach, who coaches the infielders, prior to Saturday's game. The Astros knew through their own numbers that the shifts were working, but their numbers were validated.

"They review video of every out and ground ball based on whether or not it would have been fielded if the shift wouldn't have been on versus the shift being on, so they kind of determine whether you pick up an extra out," Luhnow said. "We're leading the league in extra outs picked up so far by a pretty good margin. We knew that from our metrics, but it at least gave us some validation by a third party that has no dog in the fight."

Luhnow wouldn't name the organization that collected the data, but it's no secret the Astros have more defensive shifts this year than any other team in the league.

"I was encouraged and I shared it with Pat because I wanted him to know," Luhnow said. "We knew it from our own data, but it was nice to be validated. There are some of those that have happened in key points of the game, too."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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