Video: They shifted the heck out of Willie McCovey in 1969


Recently there was talk from Rob Manfred and his media surrogates about how baseball should be worried about all of the defensive shifts and that, maybe, they should change the rules of baseball in order to outlaw them. Most of this talk is underscored with either an implicit or explicit concern about shifting being radical or different or that it somehow makes baseball a different game than it had always been. Perhaps, an unfair game to some hitters.

Others point out that shifting is, actually, not something new. Shifts may be employed at an unprecedented rate these days, but the concept of moving guys around on the field is not novel. The most famous example cited in this argument is Ted Williams, who was famously shifted upon by Lou Boudreau’s Cleveland Indians. Today an anonymous tipster hipped me to another victim of out-of-position infielders:Willie McCovey.

We have video! It comes in the course of the1969 Giants season retrospective below. That was the year McCovey hit 45 homers, drove in 126 and posted an OPS+ of 209, winning the MVP Award. The whole thing is interesting as a time capsule or, if you’re a Giants fan, as a history lesson. If you just want to watch the part about the shift, however, go to the 7:30 mark or so. Here’s a link to that point.

My favorite part of the video: when the narrator says “How do you beat a shift?” And then specifically says NOTHING about outlawing shifts. How novel.

Zack Wheeler headed to IL due to shoulder fatigue

Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler will be placed on the 10-day injured list due to fatigue in his right shoulder, Newsday’s Tim Healey reports. The roster move is retroactive to July 12. Steven Matz will open up a two-game series in Minnesota, starting in Wheeler’s place on Tuesday.

As Healey notes, the soonest Wheeler can return is July 23, which would give him at most two starts ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Wheeler has frequently been brought up in trade conversations as he can become a free agent after the season and the 42-51 Mets have been freefalling.

Wheeler, 29, owns a 4.69 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 34 walks across 119 innings of work this season.