Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Doesn’t Believe Shifts Are Fully To Blame For Offensive Decline

Major League Baseball used the abbreviated 2020 season to test out a multitude of new rules, including a universal designated hitter, starting extra innings with a runner on second base by default and a three-batter minimum.

Going forward, it is expected that the league will continue making wholesale changes to the sport in order to speed up games and increase offense. A pitch clock and robot umpires were previously experimented with in the Minors and there has also been talk of potentially banning shifts.

The biggest gripe with shifts is that they take away hits, and thus limit run production. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sees things differently and believes other factors must be considered when trying to add offense to games.

“I have some thoughts. I just don’t know if the shift is the sole reason why there isn’t the batted ball in play. You could almost argue that if there is a shift, the whole other side of the infield is available to put the ball in play for action,” Roberts said.

“The idea that I’ve heard is guys have to stay on the dirt. I think there’s a conversation to be had, which I think is healthy. But I still think it kind of goes to compensation, what players value, the agents and industry. I think fans and people that watch the game value action and not just the strikeout, homer and walk, and I do as well.

“I think the question is how do we get there? Is it the ball? Is it the intent of the player? The mound height? Obviously the pitchers are getting better, and now you’re specializing, so it’s making it harder on the hitters. But there’s also got to be intent on the hitters’ side. It’s a good and obviously difficult conversation.”

Shifts have become an important part of baseball as analytically-driven teams use data to position players to their advantage. It took some time for them to become mainstream, but virtually every team uses shifts now to some extent.

While removing shifts may potentially boost offense, it would also take away from strategy organizations use, which is one of the biggest reasons why baseball traditionalists oppose the universal DH.

Friedman proposes hybrid DH

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman revealed changes to the universal DH are being discussed and he is hopeful to find middle ground between that and traditional National League style of play.

Friedmand proposed a hybrid format, which would allow teams to begin games with a designated hitter, but lose it as soon as the starting pitcher is removed.

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