Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff.. This week we're going to tackle one of .
What are your thoughts on MLB banning the shift?
R.J. Anderson: I'm more indifferent than I expected I would be when Manfred first broached the possibility years and years ago. I'm generally not a fan of banning or limiting strategic components, like defensive positioning, but I've grown to feel that the impact the shift had on offensive production was overstated -- something that I think is validated when you look at the leaguewide BABIP on a year-to-year basis. Research conducted by Russell Carleton has echoed that sentiment, and has provided evidence that pitchers can be negatively impacted by the shift more than hitters. Maybe I'm wrong and doing away with the shift proves to be more pivotal than I expect, but my gut feeling is that it ends up being much ado about nothing.
Matt Snyder: I've already covered this at length, but yes, I love it. The biggest thing for me was to prevent teams from having more than three outfielders. It has long driven me crazy to see line drives to the outfield that should be hits end up in the glove of an infielder that is badly out of place, at least where we have long envisioned "out of place." I guess it's one of my "old man yells at clouds" moments, but the extreme shifting just drives me batty.
It is worth mention that there will still be shifting and the outfielders especially will be moved around in ways we haven't yet seen. Teams will find ways to best defend within the parameters of the new rules. In a way, that's kind of exciting. It'll be fun to see. Maybe that will make the old man in me angry, too. We'll find out. I'm just tired of seeing zero infielders on the left side with four or even five outfielders. It's hard enough to get a hit in this day and age.
Dayn Perry: I don't have strong feelings either way because like most rules/structural changes I'll forget about it after the season is a couple of weeks old and barely ever notice it after that point. If I had my way, however, I wouldn't put these kinds of artificial restrictions on defensive strategy. Honestly, I barely had my heart in that previous sentence and was just staking out territory only for the sake of doing so. I don't care about this issue, truth be told.
Mike Axisa: In the past I was against banning the shift because I don't want to stifle the ability to innovate. I'm at the point now where I think it's worthwhile. Batting average is down so much -- entering Wednesday the league was hitting .243, the lowest mark since the mound was lowered in 1969 (the league batting average was .260 as recently as 2009 and .270 as recently as 2000) -- that I believe it's actively hurting the game by making it less entertaining, so let's try to fix that problem. Maybe banning the shift works, maybe it doesn't. No one knows for sure, so let's try it. It's an easy move to reverse should MLB deem that necessary down the line.