I was watching Bill Ripken on MLB Network a while ago and found myself yelling at the screen, while he was yelling back at me. We were both complaining about the shift and saying how silly it was. I mean really, we are talking about professional hitters, right? So you’re telling me a pro ball player can’t see a hole and alter their swing to put it there? If not, they should probably pick another career. The fact of the matter is, hitters have darn near a .300 BABIP against the shift (same as no shift).
MLB Teams Shift Away From Success
Some will tell you that the batting average is between .230 and .239 on ground balls & soft line drives, with a full moon and light rain on a Tuesday evening. But much like my sarcasm, that’s fantasy baseball and has no bearing on in-game action. You cannot spin numbers to fit your desire and act like it’s fact. That defeats the purpose of compiling the data in the first place.
To that point, organizations have been gobbling up “Bean Counters” like I’ve gobbled up Cheetos, the last 5 years. It’s hilarious to think that these teams would put so much stock into individuals who’ve never laced ’em up, or stepped into the box. Playing baseball on paper is just that, paper! You should crumble that stuff up and use it for kindling, cause that’s all it’s good for.
Now, defensive positioning is a real thing. Of course you’re going to maneuver your chess pieces, to give yourself the best chance of success. Just not to the point of pretending you’re playing softball, with a rover. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just some old school dinosaur, that needs to go away, but I think it’s a fad. Much like the Chicago White Sox rocking shorts in 1976. I don’t think the Shift is that ugly, but it’s close.
In a weird way, we have Billy Beane to blame for all of this. His task of fielding a competitive team (Oakland A’s) with peanuts brought about the desire to crunch numbers. He of course had no choice in the matter and was doing whatever he could to win. Not sure what everyone else’s excuse is, but the copycat mentality has definitely taken hold. At some point, this nonsensical concept will get old and lose its grip. Until then I just grin and bear it, while biting my lip.
Embed from Getty Images