Dodgers Team News

Dodgers Slugger Max Muncy Feels ‘A Little Bit’ More Confident with the Shift Banned

Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy had a funny moment during LA’s intrasquad game on Thursday, sneaking a base hit up the middle for a base hit against new teammate Noah Syndergaard. As Muncy ran to first, he raised his arms in triumph and exclaimed, “Yes! No shift!” (You can faintly hear him in the video below.)

Over the past several years, hitters — especially lefties like Muncy — have become accustomed to having a fielder in perfect position every time they hit the ball on the ground. Whether it’s a grounder up the middle that turns into an easy out to short or a line drive into shallow right that turns into a groundout to second, hitting the ball on the ground has not been a recipe for success.

In an effort to increase offense across the sport, Major League Baseball has new rules in place for 2023, requiring two infielders on each side of second base and in front of the outfield grass when each pitch is delivered. It won’t solve everything — at this point, we don’t even know if it will solve anything — but for one moment on Thursday, at least, it solved something for Muncy.

Our Doug McKain talked to Muncy after that game and asked whether the lack of the shift gives Max more confidence in the batter’s box.

“Probably a little bit. If anything, it makes it simpler because now you can just go back to the approach you’ve known your whole life. It’s hit the ball up the middle, hit the ball at the pitcher and hopefully there’s not a guy standing there anymore like there used to be in the past.

“That’s the thing that was always so frustrating to me, was, you’re doing this thing you were taught to do your entire life and now there’s a guy standing there. But not anymore. So, you know, hopefully there is a couple more hits that way, but it definitely simplifies the approach a little bit.”

Banning the shift is a controversial subject, but it’s definitely been weird the last several years seeing a line drive up the middle and having it turn into an easy out. As Muncy said, those are the kind of hits you expect to be rewarded for. If MLB can get back to where hitters are rewarded for hitting line drives up the middle, that could help them do what Muncy calls “simplifying the approach.”

There will undoubtedly be unforeseen consequences to the shift ban, but if Muncy can use that simplified approach to get back to being the 35-homer guy he was his first few years with Los Angeles, we’ll take it.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.

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