Shift Happens!

Updated: April 15, 2014

I can picture Jerry Seinfeld doing a skit on baseball’s shift.

“Who are these people and why are they shifting?  And why don’t the hitters just hit it away from the shift?  I mean isn’t the objective to get on base?”

Sounds like common sense but this is no laughing matter.  The shift has been around for a while.  I remember when it was applied to Jason Giambi as a Yankee.  Back then, it was used sparingly.  Today, it is more prevalent than ever?  Major League teams “shifted” 8,134 times last season, compared with just 2,357 in 2011 (I got that stat off the internet).

And you know why it is more prevalent than ever?  It’s because pull happy players like Giambi, Teixeira, Ortiz, and a host of others can’t make the adjustment and hit the ball the other way.  And you know why these players can’t hit the other way?  Neither do I.  And you know why I don’t know either?  Just kidding.

But seriously, why can’t these players hit the ball the other way? Especially when the ball is pitched on the outside of the plate.  As a Yankee fan, I would witness countless Teixeira dribblers to second base when he would pull an outside pitch.

That’s what really drives me crazy!  The pitcher is helping him and he can’t go the other way.  Keep in mind that going the other way against the shift means you don’t have to react as fast to the pitch.  Going the other way means all you have to do is make contact.

 When you hear interviews with managers, batting coaches, and players you would think they were being asked to split the atom.  You would think that Moses came down from the mountain top and proclaimed that the almighty said that it’s physically impossible to beat this shift.

I have one word for all these geniuses – Me.  When I was in Little League I couldn’t get a hit for the life of me.  My dad, may he rest in peace, told me to close my stand and go the other way.  That year I led the team in batting average.  Everyone was shocked because I really stunk prior to that.  Was there a shift? Of course not.  Yet if I could make a minor change and go the other way, so could a major leaguer.

The fact of the matter is that often times in society we take something really ridiculous as gospel.  Many of us take something very simple and complicate it.  With regards to baseball, my philosophy and that is that it is trying to be football.  Football is a very complicated game.  It involves numerous schemes and disguised offensive and defensive coverages.  Baseball, on the other hand, is relatively basic when it comes to strategy.

So let’s leave the Shifting to football.



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