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The Turf Weighs In: Should MLB Ban the Shift?

Is it time for the shift to disappear?

Dodgers NLCS Game 5 by waltarrrrr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Turf Weighs In: Should MLB Ban the Shift?


Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Nothing gets the baseball world buzzing like the idea of rule changes. Or us, for that matter. We dwell in this space quite a bit on this site. Well, maybe more than just a bit. Actually, we’re pretty much debating edits to the rules of baseball all the time.

And we aren’t the only ones who get jazzed up about the thought of changing the rules of America’s (former, let’s be real) Pastime. Case in point? Just read last month’s Sports Illustrated article that called for the banning of the defensive shift in MLB games. Apparently we need to put our collective feet down because Jay Bruce can’t get hits like he used to. It’s a spicy take, and one that got our writers’ room going.

Here’s what a few of our team members here at the Turf had to say about the merits of banning the shift in baseball.

Ryan Kelly

Do not ban the shift. A team and its players should be allowed to play defense however they see fit. Just because a guy like Jay Bruce is a dead pull hitter doesn’t mean we owe him hits. By that logic, could I argue that we should leave the shift because infielders should be making more put outs? Leave it as is. Make the hitters figure it out. No need to alter the game to capitulate to the ones that can’t.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

Baseball has been ruined by the shift. The only way to get back to players actually hitting is by eliminating it. Young players don’t learn how to hit against the shift and while launch angle can be tweaked, timing mechanics and muscle memory are much harder to change. The rule should be players must play the position listed on the submitted scorecard and those positions must be delineated. Basically, 2 players on either side of second at all times. You could still mini shift inside those parameters but can’t overload one entire side of the field.

Terry Cudmore

Do not ban the shift. If you are a major league hitter you should be able to adjust your approach to avoid hitting into the shift continuously. I also struggle to see how exactly the shift has had major effects. I saw David Ortiz lose countless hits to the shift and still hit over .300 in four of his last six seasons. To me there are bigger issues for the game to focus on than the shift.

Kevin Morin

Who cares? If you’re not good enough to figure out a way around it, maybe that’s what you should be focusing on. If you ban it then you shouldn’t be able to hold runners on first, play up the middle a bit more in a double play situation, or pull the infield in to anticipate a bunt (remember those?). This isn’t the NFL, where if a lineman has a twitch their arm it’s a false start. Actively train against it. Hit the other way. Force it out of existence or stop complaining.

So we lean a bit towards leaving the shift in tact. Agree? Disagree? Let us hear it.

Ryan Kelly lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone's throw away from his beloved Boston teams. When he is not working as an editorial assistant, he is providing commentary on the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins for The Turf.

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