3 Dodgers who’ll be hurt by MLB banning the shift in 2023
By Adam Weinrib
The Los Angeles Dodgers will be among the deepest offenses in baseball with or without the shift during the 2023 MLB season — and, of course, there are plenty of hurdles we have to beat back as a group before we even start to worry about the implications of those rule changes.
Bigger bases got you down? Freaking out about a pitch clock? Let’s settle the CBT and play real-live baseball in 2022, folks. Just saying.
Still, it’s worth examining what the implications of the shift’s complete removal could be. Are we about to see a rise in left-handed power hitters’ collective OPS? Are slap hitters about to get the boot from the league, no longer able to take advantage of their speed by doubling down the third base line on a standard ground ball?
Will an unsuspecting second baseman take a high-exit-velo liner to the gut after getting accustomed to standing so much further back in the outfield? Our answers are still a year away, but we’re excited to find out!
These three Dodgers are decidedly less excited, though, as their 2021 numbers indicate they’ll be losing additional opportunities to do damage when the shift is removed.
Will losing the defensive alignment crush their spirits? Doubtful. But watch for an adjustment period after the configuration is taken away.
3 Dodgers who could struggle when MLB bans the shift in 2023
3. Max Muncy
When Max Muncy comes back from his devastating 2021 elbow injury (either as a second baseman or first baseman? eh?), he’ll have one more partial season to enjoy the surprisingly friendly confines of the shift.
In 2023, it’s game over, though.
In 2021, Muncy faced a shift in an overwhelming number of his plate appearances, getting used to the view at an MVP clip. 90.1% of his plate appearances featured a shifted infield, and Muncy solved the riddle with a .382 wOBA.
Naturally, his sample size without a shift is quite small, but he saw a huge dropoff, posting a .335 mark in those remaining plate appearances.
Clearly, Muncy is not among those who has been intimidated into whiffing, and he should continue to thrive with his unique blend of power and patience no matter what defense is standing in front of him.
However, to act like he didn’t receive a benefit from the left side being vacated would be inaccurate.