Baseball Shift Rule

Frank Jones

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Baseball Shift Rule

If you are a regular fan of Baseball, you must be familiar with critical terms regarding baseball. The baseball shift rule is one of them that you must notice while enjoying many legendary matches. But it is also true that understanding the shift rule is much harder, especially if you are a beginner.

Initially, the shift rule of Baseball is all about the implementation of shifts against the left-handed hitters that infielders mainly made. In many leagues and events, shifting is not allowed. But MLB allows shifts but with some sort of changes.

However, if it becomes difficult for you to understand the baseball shift rules while enjoying different matches, this article might help. Here, I am going to discuss the basics of the infield shifts and it won’t be an uphill battle to understand the fact if you concentrate properly. 

What Is the Infield Shift?

What Is the Infield Shift

The infield shift has taken over the entire Baseball arena for the last few decades. In the beginning, the rule seemed odd and unusual for some reason. But nowadays, it has been so popular that almost 17% of the total plate appearances finish with a shift. 

Apparently, the shift is a defensive tactic where the fielders move around from their usual positions to cover a particular side of the field. This strategy is typically used against left-handed batters. 

Infield shift often causes positioning an extra infielder in a spot where there wasn’t one before. And the goal is to prevent the batter from hitting a single through the infield. 

However, the shift can also create opportunities for hitters to bunt or hit the ball to an empty spot on the field. While it’s mostly used in the infield, sometimes the shift can cause because of the outfielders as well.

Generally, an infield shift is used to protect the team in the match from the base hits that are pulled hard into the gaps between a specific side and the fielder. However, this shift fact is occasionally called by many different names.

It is oftentimes called the Williams shift, and periodically, it is referred to by other names like the Boudreau shift or Ortiz shift. These names came from different players who use shifts in their matches. The first time the player used this technique was Cy Williams during the 1920s.

What Is the Baseball Shift Rule?

What Is the Baseball Shift Rule

As we know, the shift is essential in Baseball matches though the excessive shift is never accepted. Eventually, so much shift against the left-handed players causes them to demotivate and it doesn’t let players go out of position over the pitch.

In the 2023 MLB, the shift is not completely a ban. The rules of the shift indeed applied only to the infielders. But if the shift technique makes you excited, you don’t need to be upset.

Except for the infielders, other players, including the outfielders can use Shift and you can enjoy their turns.

However, the rule was reviewed and changed before MLB 2023 started. It’s because of the use of excessive shifts against left-handed players.

That’s why infielders are long longer allowed to use shifts in the MLB.

The newly transformed shift rule says, when a pitch is thrown, all the infielders will be on the infield grass. In this rule, players of both teams will be in their regular position.

On both sides of the second base, there will be two players when the pitch is delivered. In this situation, straddling second is no longer allowed in any way. 

What Is the Shift Violation?

What Is the Shift Violation

Shift violation is another term that you will often encounter while enjoying Baseball. Sometimes, one side of the infield has three infielders in the match.

Also, sometimes, an infielder can have a foot on the grass on a ball put in play. In this case, batters will have the opportunity to pick up their previous at-bat with a ball that will be added to the count or just take the play as usual.

This situation is counted as a shift violation. Because of several shift restrictions, a team can see its worst ending. MLB doesn’t expect to see massive changes in shifts and that’s why it set a rule on the shift violation.

Some Interesting Facts about the Shifts in the Baseball History

In Baseball history, people often encounter amazing facts that they never anticipate. There are many facts like them that are associated with infield shiftings. If you are interested to learn about some of those facts, the following information might help you.

  • The team that used infield shifts the most on the field is the Astros. The Astros used shift on 43.5 percent of plate appearances. This team shifted almost 34 percent in ’17. Eventually, they shifted the same times in ‘16 as well. 
  • Kristopher Bryant is the player who was shifted against the most. Many of them find it unbelievable but Bryant actually saw shifts more than half of the time he played. In ’18 alone, this famous player pulled around 84% of grounders.
  • The Royals are the team that added the most number of shifts in Baseball history. Usually, most teams add approximately 5% of shifts than their prior years. But the Royale added more than 36% of the shift than before in the Majors. Besides, this team, Kansas City also has a record of making 34% of shifts.
  • To lower the batting average, the shift can actually do well. As we know, there are some risk-lover players who try easy bunt hits. For them, shifts are a good thing as it ensures opportunities for the easy bunt hits very often. But it is also true that shifts are not good for other players all the time.
  • Shifts can also increase the chance of a home run too. Another research clarifies that the player got the home runs 6.7% with the batted balls against the shift. And the percentage will be less than 6 when they don’t use shifts in the match. So, the entire thing increases a little chance to get the home run.
  • Another good thing about the shift is, it has a great contribution to increasing the walks. Research on 201 players reveals that a match with a shift causes 9.8% of walks whereas a match without a shift makes only 9% of walks. So, the shift is a good thing, especially to increase walks.


Q: What is the new form of the shift rule in MLB?

A: According to the newly formed shift rule in MLB, when a pitch is thrown, all the infielders will be on the infield dirt and two of them will be on each side of second base. Here, all the players can move right after the pitcher throws the ball.

Q: Is the shift rule banned from MLB?

A: No, the Baseball shift rule is not banned from MLB. It actually makes some changes in the rules and then implements them in MLB 2023.

Q: Why do players shift in Baseball?

A: Shift is a common situation in baseball and players shift to blanket either on one side of the ground or another. They shift very often and the shifting time depends on the needs of the match.

Q: What is the problem with the shift in baseball?

A: Definitely shifts have some problems and that’s why many leagues can’t stand the shifting system. Mainly, it is complicated because it compromises the integrity of the sport 

Wrapping Up

The shift is a common phenomenon in Baseball but too much shifting is not acceptable in any way. That’s why MLB changes the rules and sets a new sort of transformation in them. 

However, the newly formed rules can be pretty much complicated to get for the fans. But understanding the shifting rule is essential because it helps them enjoy the match properly.

I’ve tried to give you a short but clear idea about Baseball shifting rules. Hopefully, you’ve understood it properly. Still, if you have any issues, please inform me in the comment section. Thank you for your time.

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