Defensive shiftsJoe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays are often credited with starting the recent trend in defensive shifts and now the Rays appear to be getting back to what made them great defensively.

The Rays led all MLB teams with 1,462 defensive shifts on balls in play, according to an AP story. That is 46 more than the team with the second-most, the Houston Astros (1,416), and 931 more than the other 28 teams averaged (531).

The Rays had gotten away from the defensive shift a little bit in 2014, using the strategy just 1,119 times. Of course, that was still well above average, but down a bit for the Rays as the Astros led all of MLB. It was just four years ago in 2011 when there were only 2,357 shifts used during the entire season by all 30 teams combined.

The Rays’ return to the top of the rankings is interesting.

By one measure, the Rays were not very good at defensive shifts in 2014. Even though they had the second-most shifts in baseball, they ranked near the bottom of MLB in terms of runs saved by using the shift. Still, there was a net gain in runs saved so there was no reason to stop shifting.

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