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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Would Prefer to Ban the Defensive Shift in MLB

File this one under surprising.



The Dodgers were one of the teams at the forefront of perfecting the defensive shift in MLB. With their deep analytics department and incredible baseball operations team, they’ve been able to greatly improve their positioning since the Guggenheim regime took over. 

The defensive shift has been a hot topic in baseball over the last few years. As the league looks for more ways to get the ball in play and keep the pace of play up, banning or changing the rules to the shift has been discussed. You might think that the Dodgers would be against that. 

But as of Tuesday afternoon, you would be wrong. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked about the shift and his feelings on it. His answer differed greatly from the opinions he and the team have expressed in the past. 

I’ve always been on the side of allowing for shifts, but the more I think about it the more I see it. When a guy rides out a change-up in shallow right field and it’s an L-4 and a one-hop bullet up the middle. I just think that sometimes we end up kind of talking out of both sides of our mouths as far as trying to promote offense but allowing for other things that kind of suppress it. So I guess if I had my druthers I would do away with it.

Part of that may be the result of a few years of dealing with the shift on the offensive side of things. But the Dodgers also have had a run of bad luck in San Diego over the last few games. Manny Machado, a third baseman, often plays deep in right field against their left-handed hitters.

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That’s resulted in a few would-be hits falling safely into Machado’s glove. Still, it’s odd to see the Dodgers skipper do such a quick 180 on the matter. MLB is currently testing out shift adjustments at the minor league level, so we’ll see where  it evolves from there. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. Infielders should play in the infield. I don’t care if they want to have everyone on the left or right side of the infield, but they need to ban the guy standing in short right field.The game is poorer when a 105 mph bullet onto the outfield grass is turned into a ground out. You might as well change the rules to allow 12 fielders if you think that sort of shift is “good for the game.”

  2. I don’t think shifting should be banned. Hitters need to adjust. I’ve seen several hitters hit a weak ground ball or bunt away from the shift. If this was done more frequently, there would be fewer shifts.

  3. I believe you should be able to put your defensive players anywhere you want. Four outfielders, 8 infielders, etc. Why have rules that don’t allow certain setups. Teach left handed hitters to hit to left field or bunt down 3rd base line. If players would always stop trying to pull the ball this shift would go away.

  4. If you want the defense to stop shifting on you,learn how to bunt,hit the ball the other way or hit inside out.Learn to put some Ishiro or Gwynn in today’s game!

    • Brocko, Newton, LA42, agree w/ you. BTW, it’s Ichiro. Although I don’t care for the guy, but I have to give credit to the Padres for using the talents of Machado like a free safety. The Dodgers can do the same if they’re smart enough. Football and basketball play in multiple defenses, it’s up to the offense to make adjustments. Learn how to hit to all fields which is more interesting because pitchers would be questioning themselves on how to pitch to you and defense positioning would also open up creating more balls In play instead of strikeouts.

      • Require 2 infielders on each side of 2nd base when the pitch is thrown. This keeps the game similar to how it has historically been played.
        Do not move the mound lower or further or change the basis of the game.
        Require where possible all fields to have an outfield wall 7 ft high and padded, so fielders can make those over the wall catches, or crash into the wall and not get hurt. Most parks should move their walls in a couple of feet to accomplish that. It would increase spectacular defensive plays and offense at the same time.

  5. As I recall, the Dodgers employ a defensive shift against most opposing batters. So they could play a traditional defense any time they choose.

    With the exceptions of the pitcher having to remain in contact with the pitching rubber and the catcher being behind the plate, to receive the pitch, all the other defensive players can position themselves where ever they want. It’s up to the hitters to adjust. Some have, most haven’t. I suspect it’s about money and trying to pull the ball to generate higher power stats, which will lead to better contracts.

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