Dewan: Let’s eliminate the shift

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on January 30, 2015:

Let’s eliminate the shift.

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.

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Originally published: January 30, 2015. Last Updated: January 30, 2015.