1

MLB hitters explain why they can’t just beat the shift

As Major League Baseball’s competition committee debates the impact of defensive shifts, lots of people have theories on why hitters have been slow to adjust and are falling into a depressed, statistically impaired state as hot shots to the right side routinely result in outs.

The list of interested bystanders includes commissioner Rob Manfred, who recently observed that hitters haven’t adapted to the challenge in the manner baseball had anticipated.

“It was common thought, ‘People are going to learn just to go the other way,”’ Manfred told reporters at the MLB owners meetings in June. “But the fact of the matter is the human element took over, and what they decided to do was go over the top rather than go the other way.”nfl authentic jerseys cheap

Agent Scott Boras has labeled shifts “discriminatory” to left-handed hitters. Come November, when Bryce Harper files for free agency, Boras will have a better idea of whether teams in the market for a nine-figure, power-hitting corner outfielder share that opinion.1

Are hitters simply too stubborn to adjust, or are the answers more complex? The potential hazards of a hitter going outside his comfort zone to beat the shift were evident during a recent Nationals-Blue Jays game, when Washington’s Matt Adams suffered a broken finger while squaring to bunt against a vacant left side of the infield. As hitters also can attest, teams routinely pitch to the shift. A pitcher is not going to throw soft stuff away to a left-handed hitter with the entire left side of the infield uninhabited.

ESPN.com recently asked three lefty hitters who face varying percentages of shifts for their takes on the state of affairs. How do they try to attack defensive shifts, and do they think MLB can take any steps to address the problem — if there is, indeed, a problem?

“Strikeouts are way up, so getting a base hit is more difficult than ever because of the velocity and how good pitchers are now. You see velocity and secondary weapons for four or five at-bats a game.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s really difficult to get three hits in one inning. If you hit three singles, it’s one run. If you get a walk and a double, you might get one run. If you get a double and a single, you might get one run. So my goal is to touch second base every single time I step to home plate. If I’m not mistaken, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 percent of ground balls go for extra-base hits. If I want to touch second base, I’m not going to be able to hit the ball on the ground. Pulled ground balls are not really base hits in this league anymore.