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Astros Use Bizarre 4-Player Outfield vs. Rangers on Opening Day

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 29, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 26:  Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros throws out Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the third inning during a spring training game at Minute Maid Park on March 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Because of Joey Gallo's immense power, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch used a unique tactic to ensure the Texas Rangers slugger wouldn't get on base. 

MLB.com's Daren Willman showed how the Astros positioned their defense with a four-man outfield that had third baseman Alex Bregman in left field during Gallo's first-inning at-bat:

The Athletic's Jake Kaplan noted hitters like Jay Bruce, Justin Bour, Logan Morrison and Matt Adams saw this four-man outfield alignment against the Astros in spring training. 

Hinch explained to Kaplan the reasoning behind the strategy:

“It's not a gimmick play as much as it's a coverage. Like any shifting that you do, you're trying to put guys in a position where we can cover the most ground that makes the most sense. And some guys, when you look at fly-ball rates and you look at where they actually hit the ball, you don't want to defend an area where there's minimal chance of those guys hitting it, and a lot of times that's on the ground on the opposite side of the field.” 

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried to use the four-man outfield against the Cincinnati Reds last season, but Joey Votto got a double out of it. 

Given all the analytics being used across MLB today, teams could look to use unique defensive alignments like the four-man outfield more often if odds suggest it is more likely to result in an out. 

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