Padres News: Commissioner Considering Ban on Shifts


After the explosion of home runs in the 1961 expansion year, Commissioner Ford Frick raised the height of the pitcher’s mound in an effort to balance out the game.  After a golden age of pitching due in part to this change, the mound was re-lowered.  During the early 1970s, the National League, which had more scoring, was beating out the AL in ticket sales.  In 1973, the AL adopted the DH – one of the worst aspects of the game today.  Baseball higher-ups have a tendency of trying to manipulate the rules to promote balance.  And by that I mean that they create “balance” so that the game makes more money.

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Dan Toman of TheScore wrote that new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is open to eliminating defensive shifts in baseball.  The shift that stacks three infielders on one side has been around since the 1946 World Series when the St. Louis Cardinals did what was necessary to neutralize Ted Williams. But there has been a massive uptick in defensive shifts over the past couple decades and especially with the acceptance of sabrmetrics.  Shifts have no doubt hurt batting averages.  The baseball establishment is probably pretty scared that too little offense will drain some interest in the game.  And that’s where this possible rule change would come in.

Now, this rule change would not be the atrocity that a pitch clock would be, but it would probably hurt the San Diego Padres.  Yes, it would probably help Yonder Alonso, who seemed to get killed by the shift last season.  But it would also hurt the Padre defense.  The Padres don’t shift as much as the Astros or Rays. But with a defense with limited range, especially in the outfield, it will be essential for the Padres to be able to move around their defenders.  It’s probably unlikely that Manfred would do away with shifts altogether.  My assumption is that the establishment just wants to get rid of the oversights that, for example, stack three infielders on one side.

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