Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Monday night we saw our young Nathan Eovaldi win the game but lose an opportunity for a no-no and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi blames one legal defensive move for the botched no-hitter:  the controversial shift.  "I just think the field was built this way for a reason, with two on one side and two on the other," Girardi said according to ESPN.

In his post-game comments, Girardi said that if the players were in their regular fielding spots, that ball does not get through to the outfield. Announcer David Cone said the same thing and added that "Jeter made that play when I pitched the perfect game." Because Jeter was in position. Because the shift is ridiculous. And if Girardi was commissioner he would ban the defensive move much like the three second rule in basketball. "Guard your man, guard your spot. If I were commissioner, they (shifts) would be illegal," stated Girardi in Andrew Marchand's post Tuesday evening.  

So, here's my question.  Just because it is a legal move, why use it?  Because it's available? Honestly, that doesn't make any sense.  Just because you can bunt, you don't always do it.  Just because you can wear wrist bands, or leg guards, or a tee shirt under your jersey, doesn't mean you will.  I don't get it.

According to the LA Times and legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, the shift is not a new concept.  In fact it dates back to the 1800s and resurfaced in the 1920s and later in the days of Ted Williams, where managers tried to keep Williams from always getting clutch hits.  "The strategy might not be new, but the frequency with which it is now deployed is off the charts. The number of shifts has nearly doubled every year since 2011, from 2,357 to 13,298 last year, according to Baseball Info Solutions. And there has been another spike this (2015) season, to 10,262 by the All-Star break."

Whether or not to use the shift is based on statistical data and manager's strategic intuition.  Girardi says as long as it remains legal in baseball, he is going to use it when it makes sense.  And what if you are wrong?  Like Monday night against the Rangers.  Can't a guy pull the ball?  I mean that's a strategy too and guys use that power play all of the time.

So to shift or not to shift?  It works sometimes and good hitters will admit that the shift takes away a hit from them here and there, which can be frustrating.  I defer to Girardi and the shape of the field.  It is built that way for a reason.  No shift for me!

 --Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof

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