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.
Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro, who sits on baseball’s competition committee, does not want to see the league telling teams where players can and cannot line up. However, he said Thursday that his opinion on the subject places him in the minority.
Interesting comment from #BlueJays Mark Shapiro, who sits on the competition committee and has a say, on outlawing shifts: “I’m one of the few people in that room that doesn’t think we should legislate that.”
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) December 19, 2018
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has always been an opponent of the shift, and he said he would keep track of how much it impacts offense across the league. According to ESPN, shifts were up 30 percent last year and the league-wide MLB batting average was .248 — the lowest mark since 1972.
Any rule change such as outlawing the shift would need approval from the MLB players’ union, but Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported earlier this month that Manfred has received “strong” backing from the competition committee to put something in place that would limit shifts. One front office executive told Stark he believes “it’s a lay-up to get (such a rule) approved by the players.”
There’s no question we would see more offense across baseball if the shift were eliminated or limited, and some of the game’s most recognizable figures have spoken out against it. Baseball purists will argue that hitters should simply adjust by hitting the ball the other way, but it seems like some sort of change is coming.