MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Interested In Regulating Defensive Shifts
David Fletcher, 2021 Season
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are a significant number of issues being discussed with regard to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA are examining every aspect of the game to see what changes could potentially be made.

One topic that could gain traction is a change to defensive shift rules. Shifts became a popular topic of discussion over the past year, when league-wide offensive numbers were at their lowest in decades. A record number of no-hitters and low batting averages were partially fixed by the removal of things like spider tack.

However, shifts still cause issues for hitters, as defenses have gone so far as to place four people in the outfield or stuff three infielders between first and second base or second and third base.

Manfred has decided to take a look into this issue and figure out if regulations should be implemented to stop some of the more drastic shifts we’ve seen, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

“Let’s just say you regulated the shift by requiring two infielders on each side of second base,’’ Manfred said. “What does that do? It makes the game look like what it looked like when I was 12 years old.

“It’s not change. It’s kind of restoration. That’s why people are in favor of it. I’m hopeful that we will have productive conversations with the MLBPA about non-radical changes to the game that will restore it to being played in a way that is closer to what many of us enjoy historically.’’

By itself, this isn’t necessarily a strong argument in favor of shift regulations. Just because something was good for the game of baseball many years ago, it doesn’t hold too much weight for how good it would be in today’s game.

But really diving into the positives and negatives of implementing shift regulations would be interesting. Requiring two defenders on each side of second base is the most popular option, as it would get rid of the more absurd defensive layouts. But does that restore a more hitter-friendly game? That remains to be seen.

To get a sense of how difficult these CBA negotiations are going to be, this shift conversation figures to be one of the simplest facets. But even that has numerous implications on player statistics and potential future earnings. Hopefully, a compromise can be reached that restores the balance between hitting and pitching.

No negotiations ongoing in CBA talks

Despite early rumors that CBA talks would pick back up in January, there remains nothing to suggest that this is the case now that we’ve entered 2022. According to reports, a meeting between the league and the MLBPA has yet to even be scheduled.

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