Friday, April 29, 2016


Over the past few days, stemming for Joe Girardi’s comments, nearly everybody who covers or talks about the Yankees has made some sort of remark regarding ‘the shift’. Actually, BYB has a great commentary about it by Suzie Pinstripe.  Be sure to check out JOE SAYS 'NO MORE SHIFT'.  

Joe Girardi says he would ban it and many people have come to his defense. I see their argument to an extent... you know, that it has caused certain players batting averages to drop and what would have been hits are now ground outs. But here’s a novel idea: Don’t hit into the damn shift! 

As a baseball coach and baseball guy I love the shift. I deploy it with my youth teams and use it relatively effectively. While I don’t have the stats that the professionals do, I do have two eyes and a pretty good memory and know which players are pull happy, so I use it to my advantage.

While being a pull hitter is a not a bad thing necessarily, if you are solely a pull hitter you essentially eliminate half the field. One of the arguments given for banning the shift was the field is built that way for a reason. That’s true, but what if a guy like Mark Teixeira never hits the ball to the normal third base position when batting left handed? 

Do we just leave the third baseman there with no chance of ever getting the ball hit his way? I say no. The field was built that way for players to hit to all of it.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Tex or Brian McCann or any number of other left handed hitters try and take a pitch down and away, a good pitcher's pitch, and pull it. What happens nearly 100% of the time? The roll over it and it ends up being a 4-3 put out.

Now here comes this insane idea… Drive the ball to left-left center! Whoa! That is insane!

There was this pretty good hitter from the 1980’s and 1990’s who accumulated 3,141 hits over 20 seasons in the big leagues. He finished his career with a Hall of Fame .338 average and coined the phrase the 5.5 hole. The hole he is referring to is between the third baseman (position five) and the shortstop (position 6), thus the 5.5 hole. Tony Gwynn was a great hitter and hit the ball to all fields.

Us coaches, at least the standard coaches, teach players to think ‘hit the ball up the middle or the other way.’ I recently saw a video featuring Mike Trout:

In it, he says he focuses on driving the ball to right center every time he takes BP. In case you don’t know, he’s pretty good. It’s a great video and give you a pro’s view on an approach to hitting. Good hitters should have that mentality and when a pitcher does decide to come inside, turn on it and yank it to the pull side. But if you think pull, pull, pull, you lose half the field before you even give it a chance.

While it can be frustrating when a team deploys a shift and a guy like Tex hits a rocket one hopper to the second baseman who is playing in right field, there is half a baseball field completely wide the hell open on the left side of the infield. So wide open. There is not a soul playing over there. Why don’t these guys take that pitch on the outer half and just hit it that way?

It’s not rocket science.

By no means am I suggesting power hitter not try to drive the ball in the bleachers on their pull side, I’m just saying that’s not the way to hit in its entirety. Power hitters should look to drive the ball into the stands and guys like McCann and Tex do that. But they also bat below .250 now because that’s all they do.

While I respect other people’s opinion on the shift, it is not ruining baseball. It is an effective strategy aimed at giving your team a legal advantage. How could they enforce that rule anyway? I believe it would be very difficult and would cause a ton of headaches for umpires, managers and so on.

If these players and managers are so against the shift, counter it; flank it.

Don’t always hit the ball into the damn shift! That’s why they created the other half of the field.


 --Dan Lucia
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia

Thank you for your loyalty to Bleeding Yankee Blue. 
Please shop at the BYB store!  
On Twitter: @BleednYankeeBlu 
On Facebook, LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue!
Don't forget to check out the BYB Hub. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on Bleeding Yankee Blue.