Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Blake Snell a trade target or not

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:02 PM
I would personally be happy to offer up Kirilloff and a few other prospects for him!!! What do you guys think he would cost and would you...
Full topic ›

Is Cruz a MUST signing? And what if he doesn't fit?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:18 PM
Let me state I love Cruz and want him back if possible. I not only believe he brings class, experience, knowledge and leadership to the t...
Full topic ›

Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Yesterday, 07:17 PM
Free agency is likely going to be a really slow burn this year, but I still think it's worth having a thread to discuss signings. ...
Full topic ›

Twins Spotlight Episodes

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:47 PM
I'm going to try to keep a running list of all of the Twins Spotlight episodes here. Feel free to discuss any of them, ask questions or l...
Full topic ›

Comments on 41 MLB baseball I visited with 5 to go

Other Baseball Today, 09:05 AM
I've been to 41 MLB parks with 40 since 1993. I missed 5 or 6 starting in the early 1990s when I landed my first computer job and then jo...
Full topic ›

Will Major League Baseball Ban the Shift?

In recent seasons, shifting has become commonplace in the baseball world. Teams will try to find any advantage and the increase in available data allows for coaches to make informed decisions about each batter’s hitting tendencies. Even with all of the defensive advantages to shifting, baseball might try to limit shifts in the coming years. What would happen if baseball killed the shift?
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
In his time as MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred has overseen changes to multiple parts of the game with pace of play being one of his biggest focuses. Now, he is looking to make a change to team’s ability to shift players on the defensive side of the ball. In a recent interview, he had this to say:

Since taking over as commissioner in 2015, Manfred has mentioned limiting shifts to help stimulate offense. As recently as 2018, he thought that limiting shifts could help to boost offensive production and he claimed had “strong” backing from baseball’s competition committee. However, this kind of rule change would also need approval from the player’s union.

As Parker recently wrote about, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson might be in favor of shifting being limited and there are likely other players that would take his side. Less shifting means batters are getting more hits and all hitters are going to want to see their offensive numbers improve. However, a USA Today survey showed that 54 out 62 players polled were against making changes to the defensive shift rules. Some feel that shifting is a product of the modern analytical game, but it has been happening for over 60 years.

During the 2020 season, the Twins shifted the seventh most of all MLB teams which was 41.3% of the time. This was more than many analytically focused teams like the Rays, Cubs, and Red Sox. In fact, this has been a trend since the Twins brought in Thad Levine and Derek Falvey:

Twins Season: MLB Rank, Percentage of Plays
2019: 7th, 35.5%
2018: 3rd, 28.5%
2017: 8th, 14.1%
2016: 15th, 12.6%

Baseball has been discussing this topic for years, but a clear plan has yet to be laid out by the commissioner or the competition committee. It likely comes down to the idea that each team would be required to have two infielders on each side of second base. That might seem straightforward, but there would be a lot of other details that need to be ironed out.

Do infielders have to be on the dirt? How close could a player be to second base to be considered on the right or left side? Can a fielder move after a pitcher starts their wind-up? All these details would need to be decided as part of the new negotiated rule.

If MLB wants to improve pace of play, limiting shifting seems like a strange starting point. Shifts are already helping to limit playing time because fewer hits are happening on the field. Analytics aren’t going away so teams are going to continue to find ways to gain an advantage.

Do you think MLB needs to add a rule about defensive shifts?

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • mikelink45 and ToddlerHarmon like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

43 Comments

No, there should be no such rule.Teams can start bunting for hits to beat the shift when they want to.  

Want to increase the pace of play?Start using the electronic strike zone.I'm not listening to "it's not perfect yet" arguments; the criteria should be "is it better and more consistent than what we have now?"and when the answer is "yes, it is," start uing it.

Hitters will go to the plate knowing what the strike zone is from the first pitch--and pitchers will also know.There will be more balls in play, because pitchers won't be able to rely on a catcher "framing" the pitch to fool the human eye, and will have to bring the ball over the plate.More strikes means more hitting.  

 

    • h2oface, mikelink45, Original_JB and 5 others like this

Bunting hits are there for the taking. There should be no limiting choices for defending. Offenses can kill the shift anytime they want with well placed bunts. And bunts are a pretty action packed play. Beat them at their own game. Offenses are rarely even trying.

    • spanman2, Original_JB, PDX Twin and 4 others like this
Photo
Richard Swerdlick
Oct 29 2020 01:47 AM

How about the 20 second pitch clock to speed up play? Also, don't let hitters go out of the box so routinely.

    • MN_ExPat, wabene and Joey Self like this

I hate the shifts, but I hate the ban even more.Can you imagine what a Cobb, Hornsby, Carew,Gwynn could have hit if the shifted on them?Bat control has gone and the true outcome nonsense prevails.  

 

Stop flailing away and pulling everything and the shifts disappear. This is about the batters, not the defense.  

 

I agree with earlier posts - clocks made the NBA into the excitement that people want and before the clock everyone went crazy with slow down tactics to stop a team like the Minneapolis Lakers from getting the ball to Mikan, Pollard and other big man stars who dominated the league."November 22, 1950, to be exact – the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers in the lowest scoring game in NBA history, 19-18."

 

Limit the number of pitchers, limit visits to the mound, get rid of the 8 warm up pitches for pitchers who have just finished warming up in the BP.Keep the 7 inning DH.No more third strike fouls on bunts. There are lots of ways to speed the game without changing the real game.

    • ToddlerHarmon and MN_ExPat like this
Photo
Original_JB
Oct 29 2020 07:13 AM

No, no, and more no. Let the game monitor itself. Like others have said, it's on the batters to adapt to to this (not so) new defensive strategy. I'm not sure how you can legislate teams to not optimize their defensive plans based on 'real' numbers. Will they come back with 'oh, it's a short fence in left field at Fenway, so you can only have 3 RH batters in your line-up', because how is that any different? Let Manfred create his own off-season game where you don't even have defense in the field, you just paint it up and electrify it like the Marlins HR atrocity, sort of like they have at TopGolf.

    • ToddlerHarmon and Nine of twelve like this
Baseball fans pushing back on a rule change? You don’t say...

I’m all for it. Ban the extreme shifts. Limit how many players can stand in the OF. Something needs to be done to generate more hits and excitement. Bunt hits? Lol, that’s going to bring in the big money.

Polanco and Arraez have limited range. I don't particularly like the shift but eliminating it would decimate the Twins up the middle.

Such a ridiculous idea. If a team wants 8 players standing in CF they should be allowed to do so. Rules for the sake of rules rarely add any benefit to anybody. They only add confusion.

 

Also, how is "more offense" going to help the pace of play issue. Pick an argument, Manfred. You know what games are the fastest? Pitcher's duels.

    • Original_JB, MN_ExPat and Nine of twelve like this
Photo
Parker Hageman
Oct 29 2020 09:12 AM

Five years ago I was in camp for Twins Daily when Manfred visited and addressed reporters. 

 

After all the national and local people got their questions in, I asked about his intention with the shift, because he had just recently mentioned banning it in an interview with ESPN. 

 

He had been receiving a lot of softball questions (one national reporter asked about his first time attending a baseball game, someone else asked him his favorite player, etc). When I asked my question he was rather...I don't know...terse.

 

http://twinsdaily.co...the-shift-r3486

 

Here's what he said:

 

“My comment on defensive shifts came after a series of questions so without repeating them all, we are looking at the issue of offense in the game. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we’re not because there is a lot of conversation in the game about the fact that offense is down.

 

Where we are on that issue analytically is we haven’t even decided whether we have an aberration or a trend that may require a remedy. I went through all that before I got to defensive shifts.

 

As a follow, somebody said ‘If and when you decide you have a problem what might you talk about, what might you be willing to consider?’ In that context I mentioned defensive shifts. Nothing more serious than that.

 

Frankly, given the feedback that I’ve gotten since I made that comment I’m not even certain that I would even consider it anymore.”

 

Five years later we're right back where we started. 

 

Can you imagine what a Cobb, Hornsby, Carew,Gwynn could have hit if the shifted on them?Bat control has gone and the true outcome nonsense prevails.

 

 

Not to single you out on this mike, but this is definitely an argument I see a lot during the conversation about infield shifts. Can you imagine how historically good hitter so-and-so would have hit with an infield shift?

 

Yes, in that era of baseball, it would have been foolish to do that. However, given the amount of data that teams have on players AND the increase in velocity and overall stuff from pitchers, I'm not sure the Cobbs, Hornsbys or even Carews of the world would not be the hitters they are now, regardless of where fielders are positioned. 

 

The counter is that these are supremely talented individuals and would likely develop the timing necessary to handle the changes in the game. Sure, maybe. But I'm of the belief that if you plucked any hitter from before 1955 (arbitrary, I know) and pit them against almost any regular starter today, they'd be wildly over-matched. The game has changed that much. 

 

    • Vanimal46 and MN_ExPat like this

 

Five years ago I was in camp for Twins Daily when Manfred visited and addressed reporters. 

 

After all the national and local people got their questions in, I asked about his intention with the shift, because he had just recently mentioned banning it in an interview with ESPN. 

 

He had been receiving a lot of softball questions (one national reporter asked about his first time attending a baseball game, someone else asked him his favorite player, etc). When I asked my question he was rather...I don't know...terse.

 

http://twinsdaily.co...the-shift-r3486

 

Here's what he said:

 

“My comment on defensive shifts came after a series of questions so without repeating them all, we are looking at the issue of offense in the game. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we’re not because there is a lot of conversation in the game about the fact that offense is down.

 

Where we are on that issue analytically is we haven’t even decided whether we have an aberration or a trend that may require a remedy. I went through all that before I got to defensive shifts.

 

As a follow, somebody said ‘If and when you decide you have a problem what might you talk about, what might you be willing to consider?’ In that context I mentioned defensive shifts. Nothing more serious than that.

 

Frankly, given the feedback that I’ve gotten since I made that comment I’m not even certain that I would even consider it anymore.”

 

Five years later we're right back where we started. 

 

 

Not to single you out on this mike, but this is definitely an argument I see a lot during the conversation about infield shifts. Can you imagine how historically good hitter so-and-so would have hit with an infield shift?

 

Yes, in that era of baseball, it would have been foolish to do that. However, given the amount of data that teams have on players AND the increase in velocity and overall stuff from pitchers, I'm not sure the Cobbs, Hornsbys or even Carews of the world would not be the hitters they are now, regardless of where fielders are positioned. 

 

The counter is that these are supremely talented individuals and would likely develop the timing necessary to handle the changes in the game. Sure, maybe. But I'm of the belief that if you plucked any hitter from before 1955 (arbitrary, I know) and pit them against almost any regular starter today, they'd be wildly over-matched. The game has changed that much. 

As the old school advocate I am happy to have you pluck my quote.The shift has shifted batting to be more hit over the shift - fly balls which also fits the HR addiction that the sport has.I would not ban the shift, but I certainly would still advocate for the players who can control their bat.  

 

Between the pulling of pitchers (Snell) and the lack of action the game is being hurt for most casual fans - just look at the WS viewing on television.I loved the stolen bases, sacrifice bunt, the singles that scored runs and all the total baseball of the Dodgers.  

But I will conclude with the thought that if ballplayers are taught to use the entire field they will just as they have now been taught that launch angle is the most important skill. 

    • PDX Twin and MN_ExPat like this

What are they going to do, put an "X" on the field with a circle around it to say this is the area you can position yourself in? Willie Keeler said to "hit it where they aint". Defensive shifts will limit themselves as soon as hitters start taking advantage of them.

    • mikelink45, MN_ExPat and Nine of twelve like this
Photo
heresthething
Oct 29 2020 11:20 AM

How about this for a win-win approach.Give a team x number of shifts per game just like is done today with challenges.That would satisfy the analytic wonks of the game because it could use all of those deep analytic models to help determine the best time to use it and give the old school what they want with more traditional baseball but gives the manager some strategic moves to make.

 

On another note, I don't think limiting or eliminating the shift would be a pace of play problem because it introduces more opportunity for action that fans actually want to see.It's the mound visits, batter stepping out, pitcher taking too long that are the real issue.

Photo
Original_JB
Oct 29 2020 11:28 AM

 

What are they going to do, put an "X" on the field with a circle around it to say this is the area you can position yourself in? Willie Keeler said to "hit it where they aint". Defensive shifts will limit themselves as soon as hitters start taking advantage of them.

My initial thought on that was the lions/tigers in Gladiator, chained to a leash. Are you not entertained?

First, no limits to shift. But, never understood why batter would limit hitting to basically half the field, a fair share of their hard hit balls are foul. Batters need to adjust.

    • mikelink45 and Original_JB like this

What are they going to do, put an "X" on the field with a circle around it to say this is the area you can position yourself in?

In the early days of the game, basemen were required to be standing on their respective bases when the pitch was made. The SS was viewed as kind of a rover. We traditionalists might advocate going back to that. :)

 

Willie Keeler said to "hit it where they aint". Defensive shifts will limit themselves as soon as hitters start taking advantage of them.

I applaud the historical POV but Keeler faced 70 MPH fastballs so the art of hitting may have changed juuuust a tad. Going with the pitch is one thing now, but trying to go the other way when the pitcher and defense are on the same page is a bit harder than when Wee Willie was a Highlander.

 

Anyway, I'm not too much in favor of trying to outlaw shifts in baseball, as I think it will wind up like when the NBA tried to keep the zone defense illegal - everyone was pushing the boundary of legality, with lots of borderline calls by the refs.

 

How about the 20 second pitch clock to speed up play? Also, don't let hitters go out of the box so routinely.

 

Amen to the second one.A guy doesn't swing, and has to step out to adjust his gloves?Makes no sense. 

JcS

    • Danchat likes this

 

 Bunt hits? Lol, that’s going to bring in the big money.

 

That's not the point of bunting for a hit; the idea is to punish a defense for shifting.Get a runner on and then have a long ball, it hurts twice as much.  

After all, the mission of the hitter is to reach base (or in the contra: Not make an out). 

JcS

    • h2oface and mikelink45 like this

 

I applaud the historical POV but Keeler faced 70 MPH fastballs so the art of hitting may have changed juuuust a tad. Going with the pitch is one thing now, but trying to go the other way when the pitcher and defense are on the same page is a bit harder than when Wee Willie was a Highlander.

I somewhat agree but there is also evidence that pitchers of yesteryear didn't throw that much "slower". Also hitters today use much thinner handled bats and hardly ever choke up on their grip. Good stuff.

    • mikelink45 and Nine of twelve like this
The bats are definitely different from yesteryear.
No.

The last thing baseball needs is more artificial tinkering.

Let smart teams, and smart hitters, start to take advantage.

They will. Naturally.
    • mikelink45, PDX Twin, Shaitan and 2 others like this
Banning the shift seems unrelated to pace of play. I don’t think the idea would be to accomplish that. It would be meant to increase offensive production beyond walks and homers.

I’m personally in favor to some limitations. This isn’t a strong opinion, but I think the game is more boring when a hitter smashes a screaming line drive into a wall of defenders. And I’d rather change the channel than watch guys bunting for hits.

Five years ago I was in camp for Twins Daily when Manfred visited and addressed reporters. 
 
After all the national and local people got their questions in, I asked about his intention with the shift, because he had just recently mentioned banning it in an interview with ESPN. 
 
He had been receiving a lot of softball questions (one national reporter asked about his first time attending a baseball game, someone else asked him his favorite player, etc). When I asked my question he was rather...I don't know...terse.
 
http://twinsdaily.co...the-shift-r3486
 
Here's what he said:
 
“My comment on defensive shifts came after a series of questions so without repeating them all, we are looking at the issue of offense in the game. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we’re not because there is a lot of conversation in the game about the fact that offense is down.
 
Where we are on that issue analytically is we haven’t even decided whether we have an aberration or a trend that may require a remedy. I went through all that before I got to defensive shifts.
 
As a follow, somebody said ‘If and when you decide you have a problem what might you talk about, what might you be willing to consider?’ In that context I mentioned defensive shifts. Nothing more serious than that.
 
Frankly, given the feedback that I’ve gotten since I made that comment I’m not even certain that I would even consider it anymore.”
 
Five years later we're right back where we started. 
 

 
Not to single you out on this mike, but this is definitely an argument I see a lot during the conversation about infield shifts. Can you imagine how historically good hitter so-and-so would have hit with an infield shift?
 
Yes, in that era of baseball, it would have been foolish to do that. However, given the amount of data that teams have on players AND the increase in velocity and overall stuff from pitchers, I'm not sure the Cobbs, Hornsbys or even Carews of the world would not be the hitters they are now, regardless of where fielders are positioned. 
 
The counter is that these are supremely talented individuals and would likely develop the timing necessary to handle the changes in the game. Sure, maybe. But I'm of the belief that if you plucked any hitter from before 1955 (arbitrary, I know) and pit them against almost any regular starter today, they'd be wildly over-matched. The game has changed that much.


Couldn’t disagree more concerning how great hitters (at least those circa Carew) would do against today’s starters. They would DEMOLISH the #3, 4#, and #5’s used today...and do just fine against the 2’s and most the ones. The legitimate argument that hitting is harder now has do do with the quality, depth, and frequent use of the bullpen, not starting pitching.
    • mikelink45, Nine of twelve and Joey Self like this
So, we should put in a rule to further reward batters trying to pull and launch every pitch, in every count, in every at-bat, against any pitcher, in every game situation...bolstering the very strategy that’s at the center of the trend toward ever-lengthening at-bats that culminate without a ball being put in play? What could go wrong.
    • Nine of twelve and Joey Self like this
Photo
IndianaTwin
Oct 29 2020 10:40 PM

After watching games this year, my suggestion for speeding up the pace of play is quite simple: 

 

Eliminate batting gloves. If there’s nothing to adjust besides your cup, things will move along much more quickly. 

    • wabene likes this

These things tend to be self-correcting, and this will too. Good hitters will start taking advantage of the open space more often. Bad hitters--even super-strong ones who hit 30 HRs---will get weeded out as their OBPs drop into the .200s. The game will be better for it: fewer HRs and fewer strikeouts: More like baseball and less like homerun derby.

 

Arise, Arraezs of the world!


Similar Articles


by Cody Christie , 20 Nov 2020
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 12 Nov 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 03 Nov 2020
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 25 Oct 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 11 Oct 2020
Photo