- Dec 4, 2009
Starting July 22, in the rule-change lab known as the Florida State League, chalk lines will appear in the infield dirt behind second base, sources tell The Athletic. Those lines will be shaped like a slice of pie. Not to make everybody run for the concession stands. For a much more nourishing purpose:
To bring back a once-beloved, but fast-fading, relic of baseball’s past: The good old single up the middle.
Following this? Of course not. So let’s explain.
As you might have heard, the powers that be at Major League Baseball are looking seriously at limiting defensive shifts, possibly as soon as next year. So all season, throughout the minor leagues, teams have had to play under two major shift restrictions:
1) No more infielders hanging out on the outfield grass, sneakily stealing all sorts of hits.
2) Two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base. So left-handed hitters no longer come to the plate and find three infielders — or half the population of Missouri — on the right side.
But Tuesday, sources said, all MLB 30 teams were informed that, in the Florida State League (Low-A level), they’re about to go even further. By which we mean …
In an attempt to create more space in the middle of the field, baseball is about to draw a giant, pie-slice-shaped chalk line in the infield dirt. It will run diagonally in each direction, from the far tip of the second-base bag to the edge of the outfield grass where shortstops and second basemen traditionally stand.
https://theathletic.com/3417955/2022/07/12/baseball-infield-shift-rule-change/?redirected=1Now understand what this means for how middle infielders play defense. At the moment, even with the two-on-each-side minor-league shift restrictions, the shortstop or second baseman still can play hitters up the middle by standing almost directly behind the bag, while playing as deep as they want. Under the “pie-slice rule,” that changes dramatically.
The pie slice allows infielders to set up right next to second base so they can hold runners and more easily get to the bag to field throws. But if they want to station themselves up the middle for defensive-positioning purposes, the rule forces them to play 20 feet or so shallower than many of them play now. And why is that? Because the deeper they position themselves, the farther they’re pushed to the left or right of the bag by the chalk line.
If they violate the rule by playing inside the chalk lines, the team at bat gets to choose one of the following: the outcome of the pitch, the outcome of the play or an automatic ball. It’s kind of like a baseball offsides call.
Or think of it as baseball’s version of the neutral zone in football … or the restricted area in basketball, the small area under the basket where defenders cannot draw a charging foul on an offensive player. Those sports limit how teams can play defense in those areas. Now baseball will experiment with the same concept.
More at the Link...
I hate the Penalties for violating the rule, but it almost seems like a play on the trapezoid in NHL