In the past decade or so, every MLB team has begun shifting their infielders to different sides of the infield. Usually, it happens more with left-handed hitters but some teams will do it more than others. In 2021, the New York Mets have shifted the most as they have used a shift in 55.7 percent of plate appearances whereas the Colorado Rockies have shifted the fewest times, as they shift 15.4 percent of the time.
For comparison, in 2016, only 10 teams in baseball shifted more than the Rockies have in 2021 and only two teams (Houston and Tampa Bay) shifted more than 25 percent of the time. That number has ballooned from two teams to 21 teams in 2021.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with members of the BBWAA, including Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry, before Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies, for nearly 40 minutes. One of the questions that Manfred fielded was about his thoughts on the infield shift.
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Before the All-Star Game, Manfred said he’s in favor of banning infield shifts
Manfred indicated that a ban on the infield shift may be coming in the near future.
"“If you think about it, let’s just say you regulate the shift by requiring two infielders on each side of second base. What does it do? It makes the game look like what it looked like when I was 12 years old (in 1971) watching the All-Star game at camp …” Manfred said.“[It would] kind (be sort) of (a) restoration, right? That’s why people are in favor of it. I think front offices, in general, believe it would have a positive effect on the play the game. So, you know, I’m hopeful (that it will happen).“Without going into the specifics of rule by rule that we will have productive conversations with the MLBPA these non-radical changes to the game that will restore it to being played in a way that is closer to what many of us enjoyed historically. Remember: The game evolves, right? What we play today doesn’t look all that much like 1971 and the question is which version would you like to get to? That’s the way I think about it.”"
So for the baseball fans that enjoyed the game from their childhood, at least part of that game will return in 2022, at least if Commissioner Manfred has his way.
Overall, Manfred has been criticized for not listening to fans and making some changes that fans have not liked. However, it seems like he is listening more to what the fans would like and that is a good sign for the future of Major League Baseball.