Recently, Joey Gallo commented about his thoughts about the shift. His response is the following:
“I get the defensive strategies. I do. I am 100 percent not against that… But I think at some point, you have to fix the game a little bit…” Gallo said. “I don’t understand how I’m supposed to hit a double or triple when I have six guys standing in the outfield.”
I absolutely agree with Gallo. Frankly, I have held this opinion for quite some time.
Just Hit It The Other Way
Ah, the classic argument. Honestly, it was the argument I used to use all the time. After all, half the field is empty. If you are a professional hitter, you should be able to place the ball, right?
Well, this argument ends when you consider the following: if the solution was that easy, then why is it still a problem? If pushing the ball is so easy, then why hasn’t the entire league not done just that and slain the shift at its throat?
Maybe, because it is not that simple.
There are two halves to an at-bat, the hitter and the pitcher. The pitcher statistically has the advantage in any given at-bat and is also in the most control of the at-bat because they decide what/where/when the at-bat begins. Simply put, the pitcher leads, the hitter reacts.
Now, the hitter can only react to what is being thrown at him. Meaning, the hitter cannot push the ball if he does not get a pushable pitch. Different pitches are meant to be in different directions because they cross the strike zone at different points. This is why the shift works: the fielders stand in the only place where the hitter can hit a given pitch. This adds to the natural advantages the pitcher already has.
But Ted Williams Had Shifts On Him
Let’s assume this is true. Why aren’t all film directors as good as Spielberg? Why aren’t all artists as good as Da Vinci? Why aren’t all guitarists as good as Clapton? Maybe because they are in an elite class above and beyond the rest. They, and Ted Williams, are the exception to the rule. Even in mathematics, outliers are often not even counted when evaluating the masses.
Besides, pitching has developed lightyears since Williams’ time.
Why Do We Have To Change The Game When Pitchers Get Too Good?
This is true. historically, changes that benefit offense have happened in response to stretches of time when pitchers are dominant (I.e, adding the DH, moving the mount back.)
There is an easy answer to this: consistent lack of offense is boring, especially in baseball. The game is most exciting when runners are on base. Baserunners bring suspense, intrigue, and possibility for both offense and defense. Pitcher’s duels from time to time are great, but the recent lack of consistent and dependable offense has been a snore-fest.
Infielders cannot set up on the opposite side of second base until the pitch is thrown. In addition, there has to be some sort of depth regulation for how far into the outfield that infielders can stand before they are considered a fourth outfielder. Admittingly, one of these is easier to fairly regulate than the other. Once the pitch is thrown, fielders can move wherever they need in order to complete the play. Every sport has regulations about formations. There is no reason baseball should shy away from this.
Follow me on Twitter @B4Mets_Yankees for more of my content. Don’t forget to listen to our baseball podcast, Cheap Seats Chatter! We’ll see ya there!
Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports!
main image credit: Embed from Getty Images