Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has previously defended the use of shifts when momentum to ban them picked up around the league.
However, after seeing San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado make plays in shallow right field, Roberts wants to limit the way teams can shift. “I think that I’ve always kind of been on the side of allowing for shifts,” Roberts began.
“But the more I think about it and see it, when a guy rides out a changeup in shallow right field and it’s an L-4, and a one-hop bullet up the middle, sometimes I think 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. I guess if I had my druthers, I would do away with it.”
In 2019, MLB and the Atlantic League agreed to test a total ban on shifts. The rule requires two infielders to be on each side of second base when a pitch is released. If they weren’t, the ball is dead and the umpire will call a ball.
Roberts is a fan of MLB testing rule changes in the Atlantic League as they trie to improve their on-field product.
Now, Roberts said he would like to see MLB implement a rule that is similar to the Atlantic League’s but would still allow teams to shift without going overboard with it.
“Two guys on each side (of second base), or no one can get in the grass and you’ve got to have three guys on the dirt if you are going to be on the other side of the infield,” Roberts said.
It isn’t likely a change to the rules would come this season, but it’s possible a deal to ban or limit shifts could be added in the next CBA negotiations after the season.
Dodgers shift happy
Although Roberts wants to limit the shift, that has not stopped him from using it to his advantage.
This season, L.A. has used a shift 55.5% of the time, which is more than 20% higher than the league average and the second-highest rate in the league behind the New York Mets.
The Dodgers have also led the league in total shifts the last two seasons, including shifting 5% more than the next closest team in 2020.
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