Sport: Banning defensive shifts would be lazy solution to non-existent problem for MLB - PressFrom - US

SportBanning defensive shifts would be lazy solution to non-existent problem for MLB

18:40  06 december  2018
18:40  06 december  2018 Source:

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The defensive shift is neither straight up nor "the right way." For as much hemming and hawing that baseball players do over the unwritten rules, the Shifting a defense to basically take an entire side of the field out of play is the definition of cowardice. MLB needs to ban this gimmick that robs fans of

Banning defensive shifts would be lazy solution to non-existent problem for MLB© Provided by Oath Inc. Defensive shifts are a big part of baseball in 2018, but they’re far from a problem. (AP) It’s that time of year again. That time when Major League Baseball says it’s prepared to change the way teams are allowed to play defense. Specifically, the league is once again hinting at placing limitations on defensive shifts.

With advanced analytics becoming a bigger part of the game every year, the amount of defensive shifts we see is growing as well. The data tells teams where batters tend to hit the ball. If a batter floods a specific zone with hits, teams counteract it by stacking defenders in that zone. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported Wednesday that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is receiving “strong backing” from the league’s competition committee to try limiting the use of shifts during MLB games. That would likely be the first step toward getting shifts banned outright.

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This includes the defensive shift , where players move from their traditional spot on the field to an area where the batter hits the ball more often. The equivalent in baseball would be to require the defense to have at least three players on each side of the pitcher.

That idea has been floated before, but to hear it come out of the commissioner's mouth is shocking. That’s not just because it would be incredibly difficult to Defensive positioning is such a fundamental part of the sport at every level that it’s absurd to even consider limiting a team’s ability to position its

Perhaps this year they’re really serious about it. The report adds that rules aimed at limiting defensive shifts could be put in place before opening day. Or maybe it’s just MLB blowing more smoke to pacify those purists who remain against the idea of a third baseman playing in short right field. For now, we’ll assume it’s the latter. But since the commissioner is openly talking about it, we at least have to assume it’s still a primary discussion in league circles.

To that we say, why are they still wasting their time?

Shifting is part of the game’s evolution. An evolution that should be embraced, not lazily discarded in order to preserve what baseball used to be or is supposed to be. To put it another way, why attempt to fix something that isn’t broken. Defensive shifts aren’t even a small part of MLB’s problems in 2018. Let us explain why.

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Moving forward with banning defensive shifts isn't. If you accept the premise that infield shifts are stifling non -home run offense, the idea of legislating against them would help in that area, but would be counterproductive to addressing the time issue that is so peculiarly the commissioner’s obsession.

The Yankees' struggles with and against defensive shifts may be behind Joe Girardi's call for the game to ban the increasingly popular strategy. If I were commissioner, they would be illegal." Girardi, though, conceded he wouldn't stop using shifts so long as the tactic remains legal.

Evolution of defensive shifts

The usage of shifts has gone from a rarity to begin the decade, to almost routine in 2018.

In 2010, Fangraph’s data on the frequency of defensive shifting shows that the Tampa Bay Rays under manager Joe Maddon employed the shift against a league-leading 261 batters. In 2018, Maddon’s Cubs actually employed the lowest number of shifts to opposing batters with 631. But that low number is still nearly 150 percent higher than the league high just eight years ago.

In fact, only five teams, the Cubs, Angels, Padres, Rangers and Cardinals, shifted for less than 1,000 batters in 2018. The Chicago White Sox set the pace, shifting for 2,150 batters. Overall, teams shifted 17 percent of the time during the past regular season, which is nearly one in every five batters.

It has undeniably become a big part of the strategy across MLB. But has it really impacted the game in a negative way? That’s what MLB should really be focusing on. And if they were, we’re guessing they wouldn’t spend so much time discussing it.

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Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball , opened his mouth for the first time in his new role. The results weren't thrilling. The tizzy had to do with Manfred saying he wants more scoring in baseball, and he would consider eliminating defensive shifts to get it.

Eliminating defensive shifts is one way Manfred would like to achieve rebooting offense. The shift has always been used, but it became more prominent in 2014 and proved to be an effective tactic for most teams. Steve Moyer of Inside Edge, writing for Wall Street Journal, noted last September the

Success rate

The success rate varies, and like all aspects of baseball relies on a degree of luck. Fangraphs has a thorough breakdown that focuses on the types of shifts being used, and the accompanying success rates. The five teams that shifted most frequently (infield and outfield) in 2018 did so an average of 11.9 times per game, with opposing batters averaging 3.3 hits against per games. That’s a .277 batting average. The five teams that shifted the least averaged five shifts per games. Opposing batters averaged 1.5 hits, or a .300 average.

Does that mean shifting more is better? Does that tell us that shifting is even having a notable impact? Not necessarily is the correct answer to both, yet there’s a crowd that’s convinced it’s unfairly dragging down offense in MLB. Just ask super-agent Scott Boras.

There are some variables those numbers don’t account for. It doesn’t tell us the number of times a shifted defender saved a hit, or how often a hit went through his vacated position. But the overriding numbers tell the real story. Shifting does more to get people talking than it does to drain offense from the game.

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This includes the defensive shift , where players move from their traditional spot on the field to an area where the batter hits the ball more often. The equivalent in baseball would be to require the defence to have at least three players on each side of the pitcher.

Long before either Williams faced a defensive shift , a manager named Ferguson had moved his second baseman to the shortstop side of the bag against a In another meeting two days later, Dipoto told the players that they would be receiving that information directly from the front office — a change

What would limiting or banning shifts accomplish?

In short, limiting or banning shifts would do more to complicate baseball than fix it. The league would essentially have to assign defenders to specific zones. How would they even determine those zones? Would we have replays to determine if a defender’s toe went outside his territory? Is that the solution?

It shouldn’t be, because defensive shifts aren’t a problem. How about we just let the game evolve and put it on the players to adjust and evolve with it, rather than awkwardly changing rules to eliminate valid strategies. We’re all in favor of more action and crisper play, but there’s no evidence that banning the shift would give us either.

We can say this with confidence though. As long as strikeouts continue rising, the action time will continue decreasing and shifts will matter even less.

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Banning defensive shifts would be lazy solution to non-existent problem for MLB© Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) makes a play during a defensive shift during a regular season Major League Baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

MLB leaning toward outlawing the shift?.
There has been a lot of discussion this offseason about the possibility of limiting the shift or doing away with it completely, and it sounds like there is plenty of support for a major rule change within Major League Baseball. 

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