SAN FRANCISCO -- A couple of times every spring, usually against NL West teams he'll see often, Brandon Belt drops down a bunt to beat the shift. It's possible that's a piece of strategy he won't have to worry about in the future.
According to The Athletic's Jayson Stark, commissioner Rob Manfred has strong backing from the league's competition committee to try to do something to limit shifts. Stark noted that there were more than 8,000 shifts on balls in play in 2018, leading to fewer singles and basically no chance for lefties who pulled the ball on the ground.
Changing the rules -- or adding any restrictions -- would be a major change for a sport that doesn't have a clock and has mostly been played under the same regulations for decades. It would have a huge impact on a lot of MLB players -- including Belt -- but for the Giants it actually wouldn't make as much a difference as it would for some other lineups.
Belt faced by far the most shifts of any Giants hitter in 2018. According to Baseball Savant, he was shifted on 1,333 pitches last season, or 72 percent of the time. The only other regularly who saw a shift even a quarter of the time was Andrew McCutchen, who regularly faced three infielders on the left side of the field before he was traded.
Shifts traditionally have been for left-handed power hitters, but the Giants actually saw plenty for their righties. Along with McCutchen, Evan Longoria was third in total pitches seen with a shift on, getting shifted 24 percent of the time. Brandon Crawford saw a shift on 231 pitches but that represented only about 10 percent of his season.
In limited action, Ryder Jones and Chris Shaw also saw plenty of shifts -- 78 percent and 21 percent, respectively -- but for the most part the Giants weren't too affected.
Because of their ballpark, the team has tried to build their lineup around players who pepper the alleys and use the center of the field.
Buster Posey was shifted on just 15 total pitches. Joe Panik and Steven Duggar played with the defensive virtually straight up all the time. Hunter Pence saw just two infield shifts all season, or five fewer than Madison Bumgarner.
It's possible that Farhan Zaidi builds a lineup with more pure pull hitters -- the ballpark is closer to a fair challenge right down the lines -- but for now, any changes to the rules would affect other teams more than the Giants.