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May 21, 2013

Skewed Left

The Shift's PR Problem

by Zachary Levine


In 50 years, and that may be a conservatively distant estimate, we will hear much less talk about defensive shifts.

First of all, there might not be baseball in 50 years. It’s why I’m always hesitant to answer questions that start with “will we ever see,” because “ever” is a really, really long time compared to the current lifespan of baseball (unless it isn’t).

Assuming there is baseball and a United States of America and such good things, the reason we won’t hear as much about defensive shifts in a generation or two is not because the anti-shift contingent we’ve heard from lately will win. No, it’s because it will be defeated so soundly by proprietary technology and beyond abundant information that we’ll stop calling defensive shifts defensive shifts.

We’ll just call them defense.

If 2012—with the Rays’ propensity for the unusual and the Blue Jays putting Brett Lawrie in short right field—was the year that defensive shifts broke into the mainstream consciousness, 2013 has unsurprisingly been the year of backlash. That’s how trends work.

Much of the backlash came from the clubhouse of the Astros, who are among the foremost users of non-standard defensive alignments. According to those familiar with that clubhouse, the shifts have been largely unpopular among the pitching staff, which is getting hit hard. It’s not just Lucas Harrell, who issued the money quote on it and was called in for a talk with manager Bo Porter.

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Related Content:  Defense,  Blue Jays,  Shift,  Football,  Astros

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<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: D... (05/21)
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Premium Article Skewed Left: Replaceme... (05/14)
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Premium Article Skewed Left: A Somewha... (05/22)
Next Article >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (05/21)

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