This list should actually include four current Los Angeles Dodgers players, but it’s hard to envision to team bringing back Joey Gallo for 2023. Despite his quasi-hot start since the trade deadline, the slugger is right back to where he was with the New York Yankees, hitting .176 with a .688 OPS, 86 OPS+ and 35 strikeouts in 74 at-bats.
For the others, though, Major League Baseball banning the shift in 2023 could pay immense dividends for some of the Dodgers best and most disappointing contributors. The lost production will make the league’s most dominant team even better.
Now, the “shift ban” isn’t a total ban, as you can see by the description here from ESPN’s Jeff Passan when the news broke:
"“The banning of defensive shifts, which were once a fringe strategy but have become normal occurrence and the bane of left-handed hitters, is among the more extreme versions, preventing defensive player movement in multiple directions. With all four infielders needing to be on the dirt, the days of the four-outfielder setup will be over. Even more pertinent, shifting an infielder to play short right field, or simply overshifting three infielders to the right side of the second-base bag, will no longer be legal.”"
There will still be different defensive alignments, they just won’t be as aggressive, which will hopefully open the door for more opportunities for left-handed bats.
Speaking of which, the Dodgers have three of those who are under control for the 2023 season. Should they remain in LA, these guys will see the biggest benefit from MLB’s rule change.
3 Dodgers hitters who will benefit most from MLB banning the shift
3. Freddie Freeman
Can you even believe this? How can the MLB hits leader get better? Well, thanks to the folks at Roto Baller, who inspired this article, Freeman stands to see his wOBA improve by 14 points with the shift gone, ranking him 18th among left-handed hitters in terms of the disparity heading into 2023.
“wOBA is a version of on-base percentage that accounts for how a player reached base — instead of simply considering whether a player reached base.”
Freeman is currently batting .330 with a .926 OPS, 152 OPS+, 103 runs scored, 180 hits, 45 doubles, 19 home runs, 90 RBI and only 89 strikeouts. He already rips singles and doubles through the shift, and now with one fewer defender on the infield next year, one of the best hitters in modern baseball history should stand to see a boost in his offensive production.
We wish we had more to say here, but Freeman is already dominant. He’s already one of the hardest players to get out. The task will now get harder for opposing pitchers.