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Shifts Newsbeat

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

‘Damn, that should be a hit’: MLB players sound off on the infield shift—before it could disappear forever

“An anti-shift rule would restore a traditional aesthetic and make the game more familiar and relatable for fans who grew up knowing intuitively where the shortstop and second baseman play and what a sure base hit looks like off the bat,” Epstein wrote.

Even pitchers—who certainly benefit from the defense the shift provides—can cede to that point.

“I don’t ever feel sorry for hitters. My biggest complaint about the shift is, how do you explain that to kids?” said Chicago Cubs reliever David Robertson. “What’s the point of having a shortstop if he can’t play shortstop? What’s the point of having a second baseman if he can’t play second?”

Epstein also pointed to a “premium on range and athleticism for infielders” that would return with the shift’s departure.

“In last year’s Double-A and AFL anti-shift experiments, infielders loved playing with more freedom and room to roam—and we saw lots of athletic, rangy plays that you don’t see quite as often in a shift-heavy league with infielders bunched up,” he wrote.

At points. At Triple-A—where shifts are not banned—it is up only three points. Some might debate just how much offense will be added, but there’s little doubt among those who play or manage that it will have an effect.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2022 at 12:20 PM | 76 comment(s)
  Beats: shifts

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Four fits: MLB should take steps now to ban extra outfielder

Teams deployed a fourth outfielder at a pace three times greater in the first week of the 2022 season than it was used last year. It’s still less than 1 percent of the time. But as it has its intended result — the further draining of the already diminishing doubles and triples — more copycats are coming.

In the Monday-Thursday four-game series between the Blue Jays and Yankees, four outfielders were used on nearly 8 percent of the 1,079 pitches thrown. The Yankees did it on occasion against Matt Chapman and Lourdes Gurriel. The Blue Jays did it on 80 percent of the pitches thrown to Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.

And they didn’t do it because it doesn’t work. On Tuesday, Chapman hit a ball to left-center that has been a double for 100-plus years. But in a four-outfielder alignment, the left fielder, Aaron Hicks, hardly had to move to record an out. The next night Rizzo did a terrific job on an 0-2 pitch from Jose Berrios to dart it to the gap in the opposite field. But there was not a gap. There was George Springer a step in front of the warning track for an out.

Lefty hitters have heard for most of the last decade that if they don’t like the infield shift to hit the ball the other way (as if that is an easy task against greater velocity and movement on pitches than ever). Now, even if you do hit it to the opposite-field gap, there is more frequently an outfield shift in place, too.

“You want more offense,” Francisco Lindor said, “but when you hit it in play, it is an out.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 17, 2022 at 12:40 PM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: shifts

Monday, February 21, 2022

Stark: What would happen if baseball killed the shift?

Sub required.

He makes a great point. What the game seems to need is more DJ LeMahieus, whose specialty is the ability to control at-bats and put the ball in play. The trouble, this club official said, is: “You don’t incentivize that by limiting shifts.”

Instead, he went on, the hitters who benefit most are “the hitters you least want to see in the game” — those pull-happy left-handed hitters whose goal in life has nothing to do with slapping singles through a less crowded right side of the infield. On their road to 30 bombs and 175 strikeouts, they have no motivation to level their swing. Why would that change?

THAT SAME CLUB OFFICIAL: “We can either create rule changes to incentivize players to play the game slightly differently, or we can create rule changes that incentivize teams to build their teams differently. If you want more high-contact punch-and-judy types, you don’t incentivize that by limiting shifts. The singles hitter who shoots the ball the other way is not helped by this. I know left-handed hitters are frustrated by the shift. But in terms of how you incentivize competition, I do struggle with that. Banning the shift is not going to take the ball out of the air.”

So that rule that keeps those pesky, hit-eating infielders out of the outfield — that’s the only one that clearly does what it’s intended to do. But if Rob Manfred still has illusions of “restoring” the single up the middle, simply putting two infielders on each side of second base won’t do that, not if the shortstop or second baseman can still stand practically behind the bag.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2022 at 09:26 AM | 98 comment(s)
  Beats: shifts



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