Sunday December 09, 2018
Don't Ban the Shift; Promote Spray Hitters
Baseball needs more guys like this, here trying on my glove at Met Stadium in 1970.
Apparently MLB is thinking of banning defensive shifts, which are preventing too many hits by players who hit too many times to the same spot.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been promoting such a ban since 2015, according to Jayson Stark, and now it's gaining traction.
This is beyond idiotic. First, how would you implement it? Tell a fielder he can't move X feet from his normal defensive position? Create fielders' boxes the way batters have a batter's box?
The bigger point: players will adjust. If they don‘t, teams will adjust—by putting a premium on players who will adjust; who can hit to all fields. We’ll eventually get better baseball because we‘ll have more spray hitters.
George Will said much the same, but smarter, on Brian Kenny’s show. His arguments against the ban are two-fold:
I just don't like the whole principle of saying, “It will be illegal for baseball to make rational decisions based on abundant good information.” That's what we‘re saying: “You can’t do it, even though it's smart.” I don't think a nation or a society or a business should ban information. Doesn't look right to me.
Then he holds up one of my childhood heroes as the spray hitter in question:
My solution is two words: Rod Carew. I know Rod Carew was a genius, I know Rod Carews don't grow on trees. But the market will eventually demand left-handed hitters who can take advantage of this, and I believe in markets. The supply will come forward. ...
Baseball has never had an equilibrium that lasted forever. ... Nothing lasts.
George Will for MLB Commissioner.