Lets go back to Monday night with Carlos Marmol on the mound and the Cubs up by two in the eighth, Marmol put the first two hitters of the inning on and up stepped Freddie Freeman with runners on first and second. Freeman lined
a ball up the middle that was caught easily by Castro behind the second base bag. The Cubs proceeded to get out of the inning and win the game. Besides the obvious answer, why was this play so important? In years past that is a base hit and the Braves continue to threaten, probably tie the game, and possibly take the lead. Castro being where he was to make the catch shows me the Cubs are actually beginning to look at player tendencies and spray charts a little more than they had in years past. I know at times putting a shift on might come back to hurt you, but players’ tendencies usually don’t lie. As in the case Monday the defensive positioning of Castro went a long way in the Cubs winning the game. Lets fast forward a day and bring Freddie Freeman back up to the plate. Freeman once again hit the ball on the screws only for the ball to be caught routinely by Castro in back of second base. Freeman would come up again later and line a ball that Dempster would catch, just a guess, but if that ball got by him I would think that Castro would have been there to make that play too.
It seems like a little thing, but organizationally it is a component that was not there previously. Did they shift in past years, yes, but that was on the players that get the shift put on them league wide. This year the Cubs defense is moving with each hitter because they know what his tendencies are and they can position themselves properly, which should give them an advantage. The new Cubs regime has obviously placed a greater emphasis on this part of the game and it has already and will continue to play a big role in this team getting better.