Buster Posey’s major league debut was in September of 2009. The game has evolved quite a bit since then, but he believes one more change should be instituted: banning the defensive shift.
“I feel very strongly about [getting rid of the defensive shift],” Posey said in a recent interview with KNBR. "I just think that if a guy like Brandon Belt is at the plate and he hits a rocket that short-hops the right fielder and the second baseman or third baseman is standing there and he’s out. He’s thinking alright ‘What’s the value in hitting the ball even remotely closely to the ground now? I’ve got to get the ball in the air.’”
Believe it or not, the shift has become a controversial topic of conversation across the league for years now. Since Posey has been around for a while, the old school mentality from him isn’t too surprising. The eye test determines that. What might be considered a single, with the eye test, might not be counted as a single if a defensive player happens to shift against a lefty, or a pull-hitter, etc.
Even infielders, specifically Jed Lowrie, has said he doesn’t believe an infielder should play in the middle of the outfield.
Posey also made a point about defensive plays. He has arguably one of the best defensive shortstops in the league, and certainly one of the most experienced in Brandon Crawford.
“It’s easier said than done to just punch something to the left side. These guys are throwing 100 and they’re throwing it in spots that make it hard to do that. I always think about Brandon Crawford. If you’ve got Brandon Crawford playing a traditional position at shortstop, and a hard ground ball is hit up the middle, he’s got an opportunity now to make a diving play and show off his arm, but instead, he’s already standing there, so it’s a routine ground ball and it’s not exciting.”
People will make the argument a groundball up the middle should be a base hit, and that's fair -- both literally and figuratively.
In 2020, the Giants shifted about 31.5 percent of the time, according to Baseball Savant, a little less than the league average (34.1 percent). However, against left-handed hitters, the team shifted about 64.5 percent of the time.
The Los Angeles Dodgers overall shifted the most in the league with 55.8 percent last season.
Posey also believes the wristbands players wear that typically include scouting information should be eliminated as well. The research on the opposing team should be done before the game -- that’s ultimately what the front office guys are there for, Posey points out.
How the league would be able to execute a solution to this would be tricky, of course, but Posey believes eliminating the shift would do a lot for the game.