Friday, December 21, 2018

Is MLB Too 'Shifty'—And Are Changes To Defensive Alignments Coming?

In 2018, defensive shifts by MLB teams were up 30%—resulting in the lowest league-wide batting average since 1972 (.248). So now the powers that be in MLB are seriously considering either eliminating or severely restricting defensive shifts. Our view is that managers should be able to place their fielders wherever they damn please—and professional hitters should be able to beat any shifts by going the other way. You can be certain that after a few hundred of those episodes, shifting would be reduced on its own. But legislating against player movement seems way too authoritarian—and how much is too much shift? Can an outfielder roam around his position at will, or not? Call us purists if you must, but this whole thing smacks of over-meddling by Commissioner Rob Manfred (who has always irrationally opposed shifting). Unfortunately, it looks as if the tide is turning toward the "busy-body" mode. Says Blue Jays CEO Mark Shapiro: "I’m one of the few people in that room that doesn’t think we should legislate that." Geez, hands-off, guys—just play the game!