Bryce Harper, true baseball guy, defends the shift, tells MLB players to hit the ball to the other side of the field
Bryce Harper appeared on some other ‘Philadelphia’ sports podcast (FTLT – Barstool Philly) not named The Misery Report and shared his strong opposition against banning the shift in baseball.
Bryce Harper on FTLT
“Im pro-shift. I don’t want to change all the stuff that we do. I think something that helps us on the pitching and defensive side is having shifts. And if you cant hit with the shift… I dont know what to tell you…use the other side of the field.“
Talk of banning the shift has been in vogue during recent seasons, as baseball has searched for reasons why ‘America’s Pastime’ isn’t appealing to stupid 13-year-old kids on TikTok.
It’s true that the shift has essentially taken over baseball in the last ten years. In 2016 the Astros led the league with a 34% shift rate. Just five years later in 2021 the Dodgers set the top mark by implementing the shift on 53.6% of at bats!
The Phillies were dead-last in the league with a 17.2 % rate.
The shift is clearly working to take away hits or smart teams like the Dodgers wouldn’t be using it. But is Harper correct that guys should learn to hit differently and put the ball where the defensive players no longer are?
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Harper actually has good reason in preferring that the shift remains in place. Harper faced the shift more than any other Phillie in 2021, and actually performed much better with three infielders on one side of the infield.
Shift: 68%, 397 PA, .462 wOBA
No Shift: 32%, 187 PA, .367 wOBA
** wOBA is a statistic which attempts to credit a hitter for the value of each outcome (single, double, etc) rather than than treating all hits or times on base equally. wOBA is based on a simple concept: Not all hits are created equal. **
But this hasn’t statistically been the case for Harper throughout his entire career. As recently as 2019, he hit better when not facing shift and when you look back at his time with the Nationals you will find the same thing.
The point is that Harper, like many traditional left-handed pull hitters facing the shift in increasing frequency struggled. But then he worked on his game and got better!
Not everyone is a future Hall of Famer with once in a generation batting skills but the point remains. These players should stop crying about where the shortstop is standing and figure out a way to hit it past him.
Thats what a true baseball guy does.
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