Tom Verducci contends MLB should consider outlawing defensive shifts. Verducci bases most of his arguments on how the trend towards extreme defensive shifting has adversely affected left handed sluggers such as David Ortiz and Chris Davis. It’s an interesting read but the idea is fatally flawed. Some thoughts:
1. Much of Verducci’s argument relies on the down seasons suffered by LH pull hitters. Many of the hitters cited by Verducci are on the wrong side of 30 years old, including Ortiz, Brian McCann, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Howard. Verducci doesn’t adequately account for the potential effects of aging and/or injuries on player performance.
2. How did Ted Williams and Barry Bonds fare against the shift?
3. The players could force defenses to be honest. A hitter can try to go the other way and take what the defense give you. Defenses would have to consider playing a LH pull straight away if the hitter gets some cheap singles (bunting or not) going to the left side, right?
4. Why should LH pull hitters get such special treatment in the rules?