How Much Do You Hate the Shift Ban?

How much do you hate the shift ban?

  • I like it – the game has gotten super boring partly because of shifts

    Votes: 110 22.3%
  • I am ok with it – I was fine with the shift but it was making the game less interesting

    Votes: 176 35.7%
  • I utterly hate it – hitters should learn to hit against the shift

    Votes: 180 36.5%
  • I really don’t care – baseball is awesome and always will be

    Votes: 27 5.5%

  • Total voters
    493

Van Everyman

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Ok, this is SoSH. I fully expect this to be a landslide. And we know the two sides to this argument traditionally: “The shift a) Sucks because it’s taking hits away from players and making the game all K’s and homers and b) Is awesome because the game is always changing and, besides, players should learn to hit around it.

I get both sides actually. But … I’m maybe ok with it. Or at least less against it than I thought I’d be.

If this had been agreed to in the last CBA, I wouldn’t have supported it at all. And in general, I hate when “guardians of the game”-types or grumpy competitors legislate rules (see: NFL catch, eligible receiver and contact rules) that distort the natural flow and evolution of the game.

But here we are, what, 10 to 12 years after teams started increasingly using the shift? And most hitters haven’t adapted – either because of stubbornness, because they physically can’t, or some combination thereof (I don’t hold managers harmless here either as virtually no one has instructed their guys to bunt past the shift so we get to see … more outs).

Of course, hitters have adapted in one critical way to the shift, which is to hit *over* the shift using launch angle. And now we’re at a point when even baseball diehards think the game is slow and lacks action, in part due to the change in hitting and pitching styles that have resulted from the shift.

So … I’m surprisingly kind of ok with it. Where does SoSH come out?
 

jon abbey

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I mean, we don't know what the 'shift ban' actually entails yet, and it's not going to happen in 2022.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Voted for the wishy washy option 2. Mainly because, while I hate the idea of changing rules just to affect game strategies the shift has had a fundamentally bad effect on the game. If pitchers evolved to throw 200mph they’d to move the mound back. If baserunners become nothing but track stars you make the diamond bigger. If golf clubs and balls evolve to to add 30% distance you make the course longer. In this case baseball analytics have evolved to the point it’s ruining the game.
 

Manuel Aristides

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Apr 7, 2009
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I'll survive. The effect of the change should, I guess I agree, result in more "exciting" baseball, so I guess if they're going to fiddle like this at least it'll have a practical outcome that may be enjoyable.

But that said, I hate it. I think it's an unnatural restriction on the core of the game; the pitcher and defense trying to prevent the batter from reaching base safely. Someone came up with a clever idea of how to convert more batted balls into outs. Why is that restricted? What if I came up with a way to put a unique spin on the baseball that made it extremely difficult to hit in the air-- would that be restricted for being too difficult to hit? I honestly don't see the difference.

The shift has become more effective because more information is available. To simply refuse to allow teams to use that information is ugly to me. Anti-intellectual in a way that I find really disheartening.

Games are controlled ecosystems which allow for rapid evolution. Curtailing that evolution will, in the long term, result in less innovation. I don't see how anyone could think that's a good thing.

A big thumbs down to the hitters, managers, hitting coaches, and whoever else decided they didn't want to out-think the problem. Lame. At the very least they should have taken another 5 years to attempt to solve the issue themselves before simply legislating the strategy off the table.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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I like the ban. Hitting the other way is incredibly difficult for most batters going against modern pitching. I am all for the sabermetric analysis that teams are doing, but it’s taken the fun out of the game. Banning the shift is a move in the right direction.
 

Rasputin

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I'm with you.

It seems like the strategists have determined that whatever increase in obp you'd get by bunting doesn't make up for the loss in power. Seems messed up to me, but I'm not the math geek to figure that out.
 

Manuel Aristides

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Well.. one assumes it means you must have two fielders on either side of second base. The shade of Ted Williams approves this mesage
We'll see how they do on the actual rule-writing, but already, I see awkward enforcement of this. So what if my Shortstop straddles second base, and then sprints to his left as soon as the pitcher goes into the windup? No good? What if he stands with both feet to the right of second, and then crosses behind second after the ball leaves the hand? What if he crosses onto the wrong side to field an actual ball? No matter where you try to draw these lines there's going to be some grey area, and that's likely to lead to unfairness or arbitrary/inconsistent decisions by umps.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The shift has become more effective because more information is available. To simply refuse to allow teams to use that information is ugly to me. Anti-intellectual in a way that I find really disheartening.
You've hit the nail on the head for me. I hate the idea of the ban but was struggling to articulate why. "Anti-intellectual" is the perfect way to describe it.
 

Manuel Aristides

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You've hit the nail on the head for me. I hate the idea of the ban but was struggling to articulate why. "Anti-intellectual" is the perfect way to describe it.
I guess maybe we're just officially old, but, they used to call it "the thinking man's game" and this ain't that.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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We'll see how they do on the actual rule-writing, but already, I see awkward enforcement of this. So what if my Shortstop straddles second base, and then sprints to his left as soon as the pitcher goes into the windup? No good? What if he stands with both feet to the right of second, and then crosses behind second after the ball leaves the hand? What if he crosses onto the wrong side to field an actual ball? No matter where you try to draw these lines there's going to be some grey area, and that's likely to lead to unfairness or arbitrary/inconsistent decisions by umps.
I think it would come down to “when the pitch is released” … nightmare to enforce though.
 

Manuel Aristides

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I think it would come down to “when the pitch is released” … nightmare to enforce though.
I think this is likely correct and is going to result in a bunch of weird manager's challenges where players do the "Pedroia hop", land on the 'wrong' side of second, and we have to bust out the instant replay for a frame-by-frame analysis of when he left/returned to his feet relative to the ball leaving the pitcher's hand.
 

BaseballJones

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What I want is for teams to play players straight up. I don’t like the shift. However, the shift ban is an artificial way to alter the game because the hitters aren’t altering it themselves to adjust for the shift.

So the end result is what I want - players playing in their more natural and normal positions - but I’m not in favor of how we got to this result.

It would kinda be like if NFL offenses and players wouldn’t adapt to the 46 defense, so the NFL simply outlaws the 46 defense. (Except I liked the 46 defense, contrary to my feelings about the shift.)
 

Mighty Joe Young

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I mean, once upon a time it was a novelty and only used on the most extreme pull hitters in the game. And you always had the “why don’t they go the other way” arguments. Which is fine for four ABs a game. But now it’s probably closer to 30 or 40
 

DJnVa

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Dec 16, 2010
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I like it. I 100% get all the reasons why we shouldn't mess with the rules and all that, but man--it's just weird seeing a line drive up the middle and someone standing there, or a sinking liner into RF and the 2B is there. 51% of batted balls are hit into the shift.

And you can't just "learn to hit the other way". Hitting a baseball at all is the hardest thing in sports--these guys don't face shifts like this pretty much until MLB--so where along the lines are they going to learn to hit ground balls the other way that would be ground outs to SS in HS, college, A ball, AA, etc.?

Anyhow, here's Stark on hit: https://theathletic.com/3138898/2022/02/21/what-would-happen-if-baseball-killed-the-shift/
 

The Mort Report

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I didn't mind the shift when the SS might be a step over the 2B bag, but when you've got either the SS or 2B playing in shallow right, making hard hit line drives into outs, it was a problem to me. Its already hard enough for the hitters, and it's not like 9 guys are hitting over .400 a year.
 

Harry Hooper

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I didn't mind the shift when the SS might be a step over the 2B bag, but when you've got either the SS or 2B playing in shallow right, making hard hit line drives into outs, it was a problem to me. Its already hard enough for the hitters, and it's not like 9 guys are hitting over .400 a year.
Yes, there's already a rule that fielders (other than the C) cannot set up in foul territory. Adding the requirement that infielders cannot set up in the outfield grass isn't that radical a change.
 

InsideTheParker

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I like the idea that one of the ways hitters demonstrate their intelligence and ability to adjust is learning to defeat the shift. Going oppo can be a beautiful thing. Why not?
 

YTF

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I didn't mind the shift when the SS might be a step over the 2B bag, but when you've got either the SS or 2B playing in shallow right, making hard hit line drives into outs, it was a problem to me. Its already hard enough for the hitters, and it's not like 9 guys are hitting over .400 a year.
From what I understand whatever the final version of the new rule is, they are looking to require all infielders to have both feet touching the infield dirt.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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I like the idea that one of the ways hitters demonstrate their intelligence and ability to adjust is learning to defeat the shift. Going oppo can be a beautiful thing. Why not?
Because they have spent the last 5 years (or more) of their professional career … and literally 1000s and 1000s of ABs between game and batting practice learning just the opposite.
 

Leskanic's Thread

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And you can't just "learn to hit the other way". Hitting a baseball at all is the hardest thing in sports--these guys don't face shifts like this pretty much until MLB--so where along the lines are they going to learn to hit ground balls the other way that would be ground outs to SS in HS, college, A ball, AA, etc.?
Feels like this argument could also be used to ban major-league-quality breaking balls.
 

BlackJack

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I’m just happy that MLB took a look at the NFL’s popularity and said “It must be all the illegal formation penalties!”
 

drbretto

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I'm mostly disappointed that the shifts didn't turn into an actual layer of strategy. I think it would be a lot more interesting if batters actually did try to beat it once in a while. Even if it's uncomfortable.

I am generally against meddling and I hated the idea, but maybe the right tweaks can help it find the right balance.
 

DJnVa

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I like the idea that one of the ways hitters demonstrate their intelligence and ability to adjust is learning to defeat the shift. Going oppo can be a beautiful thing. Why not?
1--Hitters grow up hitting against a "normal" defense. Opposite field contact is generally weaker contact. Learning to do this because they may beat the odds and be the .001% in the major leagues isn't productive.

2--Major league hitters can't unlearn a skill they spent their whole career learning.
 

shaggydog2000

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I think this is likely correct and is going to result in a bunch of weird manager's challenges where players do the "Pedroia hop", land on the 'wrong' side of second, and we have to bust out the instant replay for a frame-by-frame analysis of when he left/returned to his feet relative to the ball leaving the pitcher's hand.
If you hate the slow downs in the game from reviews and challenges now, the shift ban is going to make your head explode. And all because old people hate that a game can change over 150 years of being played.
 

Leskanic's Thread

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Except no one is making the argument that breaking balls are making the game boring.
I'll start! Swing-and-misses suck; groundouts suck even more. And all those double plays, yuck. Straight-ball only pitching means we are getting a pure challenge between pitcher and batter. Plus: more hits and dingers! Exciting! We want excitement! Ban the break!

(I get your ultimate point, but the counter is: hitters have to adjust when they make the majors. Sure, it's hard to update a swing once someone makes the majors. But...playing in the show is hard? Git gud, I guess.)
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Baseball created this mess by introducing a radically juiced ball in 2017 or thereabouts. Players became pull happy - K rates went up and up and up, and the shift was just an understandable reaction to having to defend half the field - which just reinforced the desire to hit over the shift.

The result of which, combined with an incredibly slow pace of play makes the game nearly unwatchable.

So ... you unjuice the ball, ban the shift and introduce pitch clocks. The risk reward for constantly pulling the ball slowly adjusts to the risk side of the equation, hitters start to adjust to using the whole field and In five years these rules won’t even be needed.
 

EvilEmpire

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If the players don't want the shift, I'm fine with it going away. But I don't have strong feelings about it either way.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Won’t games likely be longer without the shift, since there will presumably be more hits? Or is the idea that hitters will adjust and no longer have an all or nothing approach, with the fielders all in their predetermined positions?
 

Just a bit outside

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How many hitters make it to the minors, never mind the majors, because they could hit a ground ball to the opposite field? It sounds like most of you loved watching Ron Gardenhire manage.
 

Sleepy108

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I think banning the shift is ridiculous. Should we ban the safety blitz or the number of players allowed to blitz? Should we do away with the empty net goal and charge a team with icing? Should the time allowed to stay in the paint be cast aside so teams can score more ? Should double teaming be illegal? I do not oppose changes made that make the game better. The universal DH was long overdue.
 

Just a bit outside

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I think banning the shift is ridiculous. Should we ban the safety blitz or the number of players allowed to blitz? Should we do away with the empty net goal and charge a team with icing? Should the time allowed to stay in the paint be cast aside so teams can score more ? Should double teaming be illegal? I do not oppose changes made that make the game better. The universal DH was long overdue.
We have banned contact by the defensive backs in football, have defensive 3 seconds in the NBA, and opened up the ice in hockey. All sports want more offense and have changed rules to make it happen.
 

YTF

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But they could all be on one side of second?
I don't believe that the new rule is established yet. Before they can "ban the shift" they have to establish what a shift actually is and isn't as teams apply many different alignments that we refer to as shifts. From a discussion I heard on the MLB Network a few days ago there are a few different positioning changes being considered. Among them is no more than two infielders on one side of the base as well as two feet touching the dirt which effectively prevents that fourth short outfielder. IMO, that's the biggest advantage to the shift as not only do we see line drives caught for outs that might have been over the head of a traditionally positioned infielder, but we also see runners thrown out at first from shallow right.
 

Sleepy108

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I just don't like seeing rules restricting a manager's options for placing his players in key spots on the field to defend against a hit. Playing the infield in or protecting the lines in the outfield in a close game are no different than the shift. I guess I fall under the category of being an old guy that doesn't like changing the game.

edit to add rules restricting Thanks
 
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jon abbey

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I just don't like seeing a manager's options for placing his players in key spots on the field to defend against a hit. Playing the infield in or protecting the lines in the outfield in a close game are no different than the shift. I guess I fall under the category of being an old guy that doesn't like changing the game.
I think there's a word missing here (after 'options'?), but also I am pretty certain managers don't have much to do with defensive positioning (except 'play the infield in with this runner on third', that kind of thing, but not pitch to pitch).
 

SumnerH

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Yes, there's already a rule that fielders (other than the C) cannot set up in foul territory. Adding the requirement that infielders cannot set up in the outfield grass isn't that radical a change.
But it's weirdly ignorant of the game's history: the shortstop was originally a mid-outfielder, who got moved in because the shift analysis of the time concluded that playing with one of your 4 outfielders in the infield was better for defense.

In fact by definition under the rules, anyone who sets up in the outfield grass is an outfielder, and vice-versa; nothing in the rules designates the shortstop, second baseman, or left fielder (for instance) as necessarily being an outfielder or infielder. Rule 2.00:
An INFIELDER is a fielder who occupies a position in the infield.

An OUTFIELDER is a fielder who occupies a position in the outfield, which is the area of the playing field most distant from home base.
 
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Mighty Joe Young

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Won’t games likely be longer without the shift, since there will presumably be more hits? Or is the idea that hitters will adjust and no longer have an all or nothing approach, with the fielders all in their predetermined positions?
The idea is they will HAVE to adjust because pop fly’s won’t be home runs - and there is greater incentive putting the ball in play due to an increased likelihood of getting a hit. Which results in fewer Ks and BBs which are time consuming. And the pitch clock will further reduce game time by 20-30 minutes. So we will be back to 1975 ;)
 

BaseballJones

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From what I understand whatever the final version of the new rule is, they are looking to require all infielders to have both feet touching the infield dirt.
So this would also mean you can’t creep in onto the grass to guard against a bunt either, right?
 

YTF

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If the players don't want the shift, I'm fine with it going away. But I don't have strong feelings about it either way.
I used to be in the camp of "let them adjust to it". That said, while I don't want to see the shift disappear altogether I'm OK with some sort of compromise that defines it. We see specific rules for defensive alignments in other sports I think there is room here for a defined shift.
 

jtn46

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I'm option three. There are ways to defeat the shift. Players need to learn to adapt. Opposite field doubles are fun too.
They have adapted, they swing as hard as they can and hit dingers. Balls in play are growing rarer. I don’t know that banning the shift solves any of this, homers and strikeouts will remain ideal outcomes, but I suspect that’s the goal.
 

Seels

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I didn't care for the shift because I felt it specifically disadvantaged specific hitter types and lineups. I don't know if this is the way I'd get away from it but at least in theory I support it. Seeing a lhh lineup with a guy on 1st base and just know that it was a virtual lock for a double play is just lame.

I voted #2 but would have to know the specifics for how they're doing it. But I generally support getting rid of it more than keeping it. There are more than enough things to favor pitchers and defense right now.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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Make it like a challenge flag - you can do the shift three times a game, and you have to be strategic for when you use it.