January 27, 2015

New MLB Commissioner: We May Ban Defensive Shifts: In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravetch, new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he's open to the idea of eliminating the crazy defensive shifts that have been cutting into offensive production and making me cry when Prince Fielder comes up to bat. Asked by Ravetch what form a rule might take to accomplish that, Manfred said, "You divide the number of players who have to be each side of second base." (Transcript on ESPN Insider.)

posted by rcade to baseball at 01:24 PM - 11 comments

Yay! A stupid solution for a non-problem!

I can't believe they'd want to legislate against defensive innovation.
Nobody had a problem when they did the "Williams shift".
Nobody had a problem when they bring in an outfielder to play infield with a tie game in the bottom of the 9th.

posted by grum@work at 01:40 PM on January 27

Dave Cameron did a pretty good job of summarizing the entire Internet's reaction to this: shifts aren't to blame for the drop in offence.

The primary culprit is the strike zone's out-of-control growth.

It's incredibly frustrating that new rules are being spitballed, when all the solutions to the game's problems already exist in the rulebook. Call the zone correctly, enforce the 12-second pitch rule without any stupid clocks, and you're golden.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:42 PM on January 27

Are you really trying to steal the NFL's incompetent thunder, MLB?

posted by Rock Steady at 02:03 PM on January 27

Grantland also did a nice job covering why this doesn't make sense. The graphs are a pretty neat confirmation of just where you would expect groundballs to turn into hits versus outs.

posted by yerfatma at 02:09 PM on January 27

Also, if hitters were less reliant on True Outcome moments, the smarter ones would (could, should) practice opposite-field and spray hitting, and negate the impact of the shifts against them. Think there'd be some way to shift against Tony Gwynn? Wade Boggs?

posted by werty at 02:22 PM on January 27

Given baseball's sanctimony levels, I am surprised that this hasn't been drowned out with a chorus of shouts that "if you don't want them to shift, learn how to pull the ball!"

posted by feloniousmonk at 02:54 PM on January 27

A statement like this, uttered in seriousness, ought to immediately disqualify Manfred from further service as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. From the Rules of Baseball:

Starting and Ending a Game:

4.02 The players of the home team shall take their defensive positions, the first batter of the visiting team shall take his position in the batter's box, the umpire shall call "Play" and the game shall start.

4.03 When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory.

(a) The catcher shall station himself directly back of the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except that when the batter is being given an intentional base on balls, the catcher must stand with both feet within the lines of the catcher's box until the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. PENALTY: Balk.

(b) The pitcher, while in the act of delivering the ball to the batter, shall take his legal position;

(c) Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory.

I can just imagine what a rewrite of 4.02 and 4.03 might involve. It might make War and Peace look like a tweet. Ridiculous!

posted by Howard_T at 04:17 PM on January 27

This, and having to defend Fred Wilpon being appointed to the finance committee, is a pretty epic way to introduce yourself to the public. Heck of a low bar to start from.

posted by dfleming at 04:37 PM on January 27

I hate this idea. The shifts are weird, but I want to see batters make opponents pay for doing it.

posted by rcade at 06:31 PM on January 27

I can just imagine what a rewrite of 4.02 and 4.03 might involve.

"(c) Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory except if it's goofy."

posted by Etrigan at 07:45 PM on January 27

except if it's goofy

So there will be an exception for a Disney character?

posted by Howard_T at 05:05 PM on January 28

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