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John Dewan's Stat of the Week


Let's Eliminate The Shift

January 30, 2015

That’s what Rob Manfred, the new commissioner of baseball, said in an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech earlier this week:

Manfred: "…injecting additional offense in the game. For example, things like eliminating shifts, I would be open to those sorts of ideas."

Ravech: "The forward thinking, sabermetric, defensive shifts?"

Manfred: "That’s what I’m talking about, yes."

Ravech: "Let’s eliminate that?"

Manfred: "Uh huh."

I am sure that Rob Manfred knows more about baseball than I will ever know, but he missed the boat here. We’ve discussed this in Stat of the Week before, showing how, while shifting is effective, its overall effect on scoring is miniscule (Stat of the Week, July 25, 2014). Let me give you another example.

The lowest scoring year in baseball in the last century was 1968. It is called the Year of the Pitcher. Bob Gibson set the ERA record for a starter since the end of the Dead Ball Era with a 1.12 ERA. Major League Baseball made a major change to lower the pitching mound. In 1969, run scoring went up by 105 runs per team.

How many runs per game did shifting save in 2014? 6.5 runs per team.

The idea of eliminating the shift to help increase run scoring in baseball is like a doctor saying to a patient that he is going to treat his broken leg by giving him some Tylenol.

Here is another article by ESPN's David Schoenfield on this topic.

In The Fielding Bible—Volume IV, coming out on March 1, we address this topic further and delve deeper into all the facets of the defensive shift that make it such an interesting part of the game of baseball. You can pre-order a copy of the book at or by clicking here.

Search Archived Stats of the Week

Published Date:

 TitlePublished Date
Edit Let's Eliminate The Shift Jan 30 2015
Edit The Most Pitcher & Hitter Friendly Umpires Jan 16 2015
Edit The Best Baserunning Team in MLB Jan 09 2015
Edit Are Defensive Runs Saved Predictive? Dec 31 2014
Edit The Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions Dec 19 2014
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2014 Dec 04 2014
Edit Mark Buehrle – One of the Most Durable Pitchers of All Time Nov 25 2014
Edit Is Madison Bumgarner the World's #1 Starting Pitcher? Nov 14 2014
Edit Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory Nov 05 2014
Edit The 2014 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 30 2014
Edit Who Gives a Shift? Oct 23 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 06 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 01 2014
Edit Pitchers with the Best and Worst Run Support Sep 18 2014
Edit Which teams have come on in the second half? Sep 09 2014
Edit Instant Replay Sep 02 2014
Edit Top Defensive Players for 2014 Aug 20 2014
Edit Who Are The 2014 MVP Candidates? Aug 08 2014
Edit How Do Shifts Affect League-Wide Batting Averages? Jul 25 2014
Edit The Best and Worst Baserunners in 2014 Jul 18 2014
Edit The White Sox Blow Another Lead Jul 10 2014
Edit Shifts Against Right-Handed Hitters Jun 26 2014
Edit Cannon Arms in 2014 Jun 10 2014
Edit The Most Improved Defensive Teams Jun 06 2014
Edit How Many More No-Hitters This Year? May 29 2014
Edit Rookie of the Year – Tanaka or Abreu? May 16 2014
Edit Can the National League Reverse a 10-Year Trend? May 09 2014
Edit Who Are the Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far? Apr 25 2014
Edit Shifts Still on the Rise Apr 18 2014
Edit Can the First 10 Games Predict Playoff Chances? Apr 11 2014
Edit Who Will Be The 2014 Statistical Leaders? Mar 31 2014
Edit Can Spring Training Statistics Predict Breakout Power Seasons? Mar 25 2014
Edit Who Will Be The Best Defenders In 2014? Mar 11 2014
Edit Sochi Olympics - Dominant Countries Feb 25 2014
Edit United States on Track for Most Olympic Medals Feb 17 2014
Edit Sochi Predictions Feb 10 2014
Edit Super Bowl Predictor System Jan 30 2014
Edit Throwing Strikes Jan 20 2014
Edit Cannon Arms in 2013 Jan 10 2014
Edit Teams that Best Controlled the Running Game Dec 30 2013
Edit Opponent OPS and the Cy Young Award Dec 20 2013
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2013 Dec 09 2013
Edit Tim Lincecum Breaks Our Defensive Rankings Nov 19 2013
Edit Who Was the Real AL MVP? Nov 15 2013
Edit Making a Great Defensive Play Then Leading Off the Next Inning Nov 05 2013
Edit The 2013 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 28 2013
Edit Boston-St. Louis World Series Oct 21 2013
Edit Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 07 2013
Edit Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 04 2013
Edit Simmons Has Company Sep 23 2013
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