Colorado Rockies: Which players would benefit least from banning shift?

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 28: Ryan McMahon #24 of the Colorado Rockies bats during the game against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field on September 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 3-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 28: Ryan McMahon #24 of the Colorado Rockies bats during the game against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field on September 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 3-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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While the discussion about Major League Baseball potentially banning “the shift” rages on during discussions to end the current lockout, looking at statistics, it’s interesting to see which members of the Colorado Rockies would benefit with the elimination of the shift and which ones would see little difference at the plate.

Recently, we looked at which Rockies would benefit most by the shift (defined here) reportedly being considered as something to eliminate before the 2023 season (along with other rule changes). In this article, we will look at a pair of players who could see little benefit from the shift no longer being a part of MLB strategy.

Here are the Colorado Rockies who hit better with the shift in place

Using Baseball Savant data, let’s take a look back at the 2021 season to see which Colorado players performed well at the plate with the shift on versus at-bats where the shift was not employed.

As part of this article, we will focus on weighted On-Base Average (wOBA).

The most noticeable wOBA difference when the shift was on versus when it wasn’t came off the bat of Ryan McMahon. In 281 plate appearances last season when the shift was employed, McMahon’s wOBA was .375. However, in 312 plate appearances without the shift, McMahon’s wOBA plummeted to .298.

Washington was shifting against McMahon in this at-bat, but it didn’t matter as he went the opposite way for a three-run home run.

A similar drop in wOBA can be seen with Elias Díaz, but there’s a catch in the numbers as well. As teams shifted more with McMahon’s left-handed swing, the right-handed power brought by Díaz didn’t require teams to shift nearly as much. In fact, Díaz saw a shift in just 35 plate appearances last season. However, in that small sample size, his wOBA was .384. In the 334 plate appearances against a non-shifted infield, his wOBA was .325.

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Of the Rockies expected to make a big impact in the lineup in 2022, McMahon and Díaz seem to be the duo who will get one last look at the shift and likely once again shrug it off.

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