Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal spoke to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who said that if he were commissioner of baseball, he would ban infield shifts. Girardi added that the second base bag would be the dividing line. Ostensibly, he means that a team would have to have two fielders on both sides.
This would be a serious change to the rulebook, as Diamond points out:
Teams are shifting now more than ever, but it actually hasn’t had much an effect on batted balls overall. Here’s a look at league-wide BABIP since 2000:
American League BABIP is at its lowest point while National League BABIP is at its highest. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports posted team-by-team shift data recently:
There aren’t a preponderance of AL teams at the top or the bottom of the list which might help explain the disparity. But it’s certainly not evident that shifts are leading to hit prevention. Girardi’s solution may be addressing a problem that doesn’t exist.
The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.
After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.
Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.
Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:
In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?