By Jon Weisman
One of the strangest things to me about any controversy regarding defensive shifts in baseball is that every team I’ve ever played on since I was 8 (mostly softball, admittedly) has shifted based on familiarity with the hitters on the other team.
Of course, that doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen, but if you knew a batter tended to hit a ball in a certain spot, you always shaded that way and dared him to beat you in another spot. If he did, tip the cap. But at least they had the burden.
If you knew where a batter tended to hit and you didn’t move to cover that spot, that would be bizarre. It would be like knowing that a batter liked fastballs in … and continuing to throw fastballs in.
Shifts in baseball in 2015, such as the Dodgers have been using, might be more common, more extreme, more committed, more intense on the risk-reward proposition, but they’re an outgrowth of the way baseball has been played as long as I’ve known it — and longer than that I’m sure.
Previously on Dodger Insider: Defensive shifts and the Dodgers (May 2014)