Joe Maddon
(Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Get Rid Of The Shift? Joe Maddon Thinks Not.

Recently, MLB made the decision to make various changes to minor league rules, which serve as ‘experiments’. Many think that killing the shift was the most polarizing change made. Los Angeles Angels Manager Joe Maddon unquestionably agrees, and he also feels there is a more pragmatic solution; deadening the baseball. The best part–MLB has already sent out the memo…literally. 

Last month, MLB made the announcement that they would be loosening the tension on the seams of the baseball as well as doubling the number of ballparks that use a humidor. Currently, there are five teams that use a humidor to kill the baseball: the Colorado Rockies (obviously), Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox. Now, MLB will be adding five teams to that list.

So MLB doesn’t want teams to be allowed to shift in order to give hitters a better chance, yet they are deadening the baseball to decrease home run percentage. I don’t understand, and neither does Joe Maddon. But Maddon does believe that the ‘three true outcomes approach’ (walk-homerun-strikeout) is getting a little stale.

Shift Differently? No, Hitters Need To Think Differently.

“Three true outcomes – that kind of gets old. That’s where I think the game kind of lacks,” Maddon said, “If in fact the ball is different, hitters will think differently, pitchers will think differently, speed will be more prominent – the game will almost come back to what we grew up knowing.”

When pondering the idea of a deadened baseball, Maddon seemed to appreciate the idea of change, unlike his opinion on most of MLB’s recent experiments. It’s simple. The ball won’t go as far even when players swing out of their shoes which will in turn decrease the homerun rate and foster more well-rounded hitters. Great. I love it, fans should love it, and Joe Maddon definitely loves it.

“If the ball doesn’t travel as far, a lot of the things you’re looking for will occur. Hitters will adjust, pitchers will adjust, defenses will adjust. All the things you’re looking for will happen, even to the point where analytics change, with people running teams (changing valuations) based on what the players’ capabilities are because the ball doesn’t go as far.”

MLB also entertained the idea of a ‘three-batter minimum’ for relief pitchers in order to prevent teams from making several pitching changes in quick succession, which many argue is the reason why games take so long today. Again, here’s another instance that shows MLB just doesn’t know what it wants. They want to deaden the baseball to reduce home runs, yet they say more home runs increase viewership. MLB wants to increase the pace of play, but then they go and experiment with dreadingly long instant replays and allow coaching challenges on just about any play? What is it going to be? Maybe someday in the near future MLB can come to a point where they find the happy medium for everybody.