Joe Girardi Says He'd Ban Shifts from Baseball If He Were MLB Commissioner

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2016

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Joe Girardi #28 manager of the New York Yankees is interviewed before the game against Texas Rangers at Global Life Park in Arlington on April 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Tuesday he would ban shifts in baseball if he was the commissioner of MLB, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com.

"It is an illegal defense, like basketball. Guard your man, guard your spot," he said, comparing the shift to basketball's defensive three-second rule, per Marchand. "If I were commissioner, they would be illegal."

Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi lost his no-hitter in the seventh inning Monday evening after the Texas Rangers' Nomar Mazara hit a ball through the gap at shortstop that was vacant because the Yankees were running the shift.

While Girardi conceded that he would continue employing the defensive tactic while it was legal, he added: "I just think the field was built this way for a reason, with two on one side and two on the other."

The shift has also been employed successfully against the Yankees at a consistent rate, another reason for Girardi's ire.

As Marchand noted, the shift "has hurt the Yankees more than any team the last three seasons. The Yankees have been shifted more than 1,000 times than any other club. Their .269 average is the worst over that span."

Don't expect the shift to go away anytime soon, however. While MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred considered banning the shift before taking over his post in 2014, per Marchand, he's since noted: "When I talked about the defensive shifts, I let myself get into a situation where I speculated about a change I wasn't serious about."

Indeed, the shift has become a crucial defensive strategy for many teams. It is most often employed against power hitters who have a tendency to pull the ball, increasing the likelihood that what might otherwise have been a hit will instead find its way to a newly positioned infielder.

There is a trade-off, of course, as the team is left with just one infielder on the other side of the field, meaning a well-placed bunt or opposite-field hit is almost guaranteed to be a hit. That strategic balance is why the shift will likely remain a legal part of the game. 

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