As we move forward into a new age of baseball where analytics and statistics are starting to change and evolve, people in the baseball world are starting to ask the question. Are extreme defensive shifts good for the game of baseball?
The answer is complicated.
On the highest level of Major League Baseball, defensive shifts are proving to be a very effective defensive tool. This game is about adjustments and this is the latest new wave adjustment to become in vogue.
Defensive shifts in Major League Baseball are effective for a variety of reasons.
- A Major League staff has enough statistical data on every single hitter that they can make logical decisions based on hundreds if not thousands of at-bats.
- Every hitter has strengths and they feel that they must stick to their strength to justify their contract and value to their team. So to make a power hitter think about bunting to beat the shift is essentially limiting their biggest strength.
- Pitchers and coaches develop a game plan to attack every single hitter and pitchers can often execute that game plan efficiently. Pitchers can pitch towards the shift and thus make the shift more effective.
- Infielders and outfielders have fielded enough groundballs and caught enough fly balls to a point where they feel comfortable enough anywhere on a baseball field.
- Over 162 games, statistics show that if a pitcher can locate the ball where they want to and fielders can field the ball effectively from different locations on a baseball field then over the long haul, shifts are not only effective, but also can produce more wins than adding another player in some cases.
But are they good for the game?
On a professional level, the game is about winning and if shifts help a billion dollar corporation win more ballgames and get closer to the playoffs and eventually winning the World Series than it is good for that team and good for baseball.
This game is about adjustments and defensive shifts is just another adjustments in the long line of adjustments that have been made throughout the history of the game.
Until Next Time