Astros break out four-man outfield for Joey Gallo and it won't be the last time we see it this year

Throughout spring training, the Houston Astros experimented with extreme defensive shifts. Not your typical, now-everyday overshifts -- but more exotic fare, like having four outfielders.

Manager A.J. Hinch didn't wait long before busting it out on Opening Day. The test subject? Texas Rangers first baseman Joey Gallo, who batted second in the bottom of the first.

For the inquisitive minds out there, Gallo hit right into the shift, lofting a ball to third baseman-turned-far-left fielder Alex Bregman. Here's what the defensive arrangement looked like, courtesy of ESPN:

joey-gallo-shift.jpg
ESPN

And on Statcast:

Hinch and the Astros aren't the first team to use such extreme measures. Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays broke it out against the likes of Travis Hafner and David Ortiz more than a decade ago. As the collection of hitters mentioned here suggests, it's all about targeting those extreme fly-ball types who are slower and prone to pulling whatever balls they do put on the ground.

To wit, here's Gallo's 2017 spray chart, courtesy of Baseball Savant:

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Baseball Savant

So kudos to Bregman, the Astros, and, in a sense, Gallo for helping potentially normalize the four-man outfield. Consider it a stone-cold lock that we'll be seeing more of it this year. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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