Crasnick: MLB hitters explain why they just can’t beat the shift

From SABR member Jerry Crasnick at on July 10, 2018:

As Major League Baseball’s competition committee debates the impact of defensive shifts, lots of people have theories on why hitters have been slow to adjust and are falling into a depressed, statistically impaired state as hot shots to the right side routinely result in outs.

The list of interested bystanders includes commissioner Rob Manfred, who recently observed that hitters haven’t adapted to the challenge in the manner baseball had anticipated.

“It was common thought, ‘People are going to learn just to go the other way,”’ Manfred told reporters at the MLB owners meetings in June. “But the fact of the matter is the human element took over, and what they decided to do was go over the top rather than go the other way.”

Agent Scott Boras has labeled shifts “discriminatory” to left-handed hitters. Come November, when Bryce Harper files for free agency, Boras will have a better idea of whether teams in the market for a nine-figure, power-hitting corner outfielder share that opinion.

Are hitters simply too stubborn to adjust, or are the answers more complex?

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Originally published: July 12, 2018. Last Updated: July 12, 2018.