Major League Baseball is changing, and it is really frustrating. One controversial idea in baseball is the shift, but I think it is good for the league and should not be banned.
A shift in baseball is when a defense positions itself into places on the field where batters statistically hit the ball the most. For example, a left-handed power hitter may have the entire left side of the infield wide open, with every infielder playing on the right side of the field.
The shift turns what appears to be a base hit on television into an easy out because the defense was situated out of their typical position. That can certainly be a little frustrating, but I have always liked the shift.
Here is a small idea that could work. Perhaps, hit the ball away from the shift? A professional baseball player should hit the ball to all sides of the field.
This is the last season we will see the infield shift take place in the MLB. This is just one of many changes coming to baseball. America’s pastime is changing from the game it once was.
History of the Shift in Baseball
Joe Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays may single-handedly be one of the largest reasons the shift is as prominent in today’s game. The game that is credited for beginning the shift culture in baseball was a game between the Devil Rays and the Red Sox on April 18, 2006 where manager Maddon tried to find a way to stop the dominant David Ortiz. Next thing you know, shifts are everywhere, and batters across the league have to adjust.
The shift is a high-risk high-reward play. Defenses are essentially predicting where the ball is going to be hit, and if they are wrong, they often cost themselves an easy out. Seeing a player beat the shift is always exciting as a fan.
Shifts Speed up the Game
Rob Manfred and other leaders in the MLB want to speed up the game by implementing rules such as a runner on second base in extra innings, or a pitch clock. Shifts speed up the game as well.
Games are going to be more high scoring than they have been in years now. Games are going to be quicker thanks to pitch clocks, but the high scoring will just make them even longer.
Defense is beautiful to watch and so is good pitching. Earned-run averages are going to skyrocket and greatly impact statistics across the board on both sides. Players who hold value for being able to hit the ball anywhere as they force defenses not to shift against them are put in a bad position. Their spots on the team are now in jeopardy because they can easily get replaced by a guy strikes out 30% of the time and only knows how to be a pull hitter.
Banning the shift does more harm for the game of baseball than it does good, and I will really miss this strategic part of the game.
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