We've talked so much over the years about implementing replay and speeding up the game of baseball. But now it's time to look at some of the real issues in the game and that is, the shift.
Managers and coaches talk to their players about where to play defensively when a guy like David Ortiz, or Edwin Encarnacion comes up to bat. This is used to force the batter to make an adjustment when they already are at a disadvantage because they don't know what pitch is coming at what time. They can make a guess, but unless it's 0-2, 1-2, 2-0, or 3-1, ideally the batter has virtually no clue what's coming at them.
So why do you use a shift? The hitter already is at a disadvantage and it takes away from what a lot of people who follow the game want. More offense.
I view the shift as using cheat codes in a video game. Sure, you're still playing the game, but you're not playing it the right way and you're putting the batter at an unfair disadvantage.
Baseball is a game of adjustments, but it's almost impossible to wait on a pitch for an extended period of a half second to assure they hit it away from the shift.
Another reason to do away with it is that it's not always going to work. A prime example is during Game 1 of the World Series between the Mets and Royals. The Royals left Mike Moustakas in the shortstop's position when Lucas Duda came up with Yoenis Cespedes at first base in the 6th inning.
Duda hit a sharp grounder that beats a diving Alcides Escobar and goes into short right field. Had the Royals played straight up, it's first and second with no one out as opposed to first and third with no one out. Now a double play scores a run instead of keeping the opponent off the board.
Michael Conforto knocked in Cespedes with a sac fly and gave the Mets a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
Also, we've seen plays where a runner will steal second and then run to third because no one is there.
The shift is an effective way to put a pull hitter into an even bigger disadvantage, however, it is not a guaranteed success every time. Pitchers still have to pitch, fielders still have to field, hitters still have to hit. It's a game of adjustments, and the shift is an adjustment that needs to go.