OPINION: Baseball shifting in the right direction



Minnesota Twins first baseman Jose Miranda, second baseman Luis Arraez and shortstop Carlos Correa (4) stand in a defensive shift during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles , Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Tommy Gilligan)

The bat smacks the baseball. It’s a grounder between two defenders. You’re going to come through with a big single late in the game. But wait, the shift is on. The defense fields the ball and throws you out. You’re frustrated. What was once a hit is now taken away. It’s much harder to get a base hit now with the shift, and much better that it will be removed from baseball next year.

The shift dates back to the 1900s when teams began moving defenders around to attempt to contain the big bats, including Ted Williams. According to an ESPN.com article by Rob Neyer, “It’s generally believed that Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau invented the shift…but as Glenn Stout notes in Red Sox Century, the first to use a shift against Williams was White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes, on July 23, 1941.”

Since the shift came into existence, baseball players have had to make their best efforts to “beat” the shift by hitting the ball the opposite way. Many players are known to hit the ball in the same direction each time, so hitting it in the other direction is difficult.

There is a wide range of opinions about the change in this rule. Some players have some concerns with the rule change, while others are optimistic about the difference they’ll see next season.

“From a hitter’s perspective, I like it because there’s more hits,” said Dodgers second baseman and outfielder Gavin Lux, when asked about his opinions on the change.

Banning the shift will open up the gaps in the infield and increase the number of hits the MLB and its fans will see during future seasons. 

As we look ahead to the coming seasons, it will be interesting to see how the overall batting averages change with more gaps being open in the infield. More runs will be scored, there will be more hits, the game will be more entertaining, and hitters will be able to hit the ball where they normally would, without having to worry about hitting into the shift. Shifting from one form of defense into another could be a challenge for teams, but it will make the game of baseball more enjoyable to watch and more entertaining.