Dodgers Team News

Dodgers: What Will Next Year’s Shift Ban Mean for the Boys in Blue?

MLB announced on Friday that three major rule changes will be implemented for the 2023 season: larger bases, the implementation of a pitch clock, and restrictions on defensive shifting.

There are two key elements to the banning of the shift, as reported in The Athletic on Thursday when the changes leaked out:

• When the pitcher releases the ball, a minimum of four players (besides the pitcher and catcher) must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the dirt, and two fielders have to be entirely on either side of second base.

• Every team has to designate two infielders on each side of second base who may not switch sides during the game, except if there’s a substitution for one of those infielders.

In practical terms, the main changes are not loading up one side of the infield and not playing an infielder in shallow right field. This will presumably lead to more balls in play turning into hits, which might (hopefully) lead to players trying harder to put the ball in play. There will surely be unforeseen and unintended consequences, but let’s focus on the foreseen and intended consequences for now as we ponder this question: Which Dodger players will benefit the most from the new shift restrictions?

Joey Gallo has the highest pull rate of any active Dodger hitter, but also has one of the lowest groundball rates. Trayce Thompson is a similar story from the right side of the plate, but these changes are likely to affect lefties more anyway because opposing teams can’t play an infielder as deep behind shortstop as they can in shallow right field.

Max Muncy has a high pull percentage and a higher groundball percentage than Gallo, but it’s still relatively low. Cody Bellinger’s grounder rate is higher than Muncy’s, but his pull rate is lower. It looks like maybe Gavin Lux is the answer, with a pull rate close to Bellinger’s but the highest groundball rate on the team. Let’s look at Lux’s spray charts:

The chart with the green circles shows groundballs hit by Lux this year, while the chart with the gray circles shows the batted balls that have turned into outs. The circles represent where the balls were fielded. As we’re zoomed in on the infield, there’s a lot of overlap between the two charts. We’re counting at least nine groundouts that were fielded on the outfield grass, so we have to assume most of those would have gotten through. Knowing teams will only be allowed to have two fielders on the right side of the infield, it’s easy to see a couple handfuls of grounders getting through next year that were outs this year.

But then you look at the left side, and you see at least a handful of groundballs that were fielded on the opposite field side and weren’t outs. We can only guess on where the fielders might be playing under the new restrictions, but it looks like Lux might be gaining as many hits on the opposite side as he’s losing on the pull side.

Sports Info Solutions keeps proprietary statistics on the net result of the shift on individual players, and they tweeted this out on Thursday afternoon:

Corey Seager has lost a net total of 26 hits to the shift this year. So we know the numbers can be huge and impactful. What we don’t know is whether any Dodgers will be impacted nearly as much as the former L.A. shortstop. SIS intends to publish an article in the next week or two that will have this data on more players than just Seager, so we’ll get more insight then.

Until then, we can keep our eyes peeled the rest of this season and make our best guesses every time someone pulls a grounder into the shift about whether it would be a hit next year.

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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.


  1. I think the biggest change is the two protected pick off attempts. I don’t know the exact number but Trea Turner hits the dirt and slides back to the bag 5-10 times a game. It strictly is to wear him out, they never pick him, it’s boring and slows the game down. But the runners will have a huge advantage next year. All the other rules take the game back to where it was prior to analytics. By rewarding speed and athleticism and minimizing big oafs who hit a homer every fifth game and can’t field a position. Wish the automated strike zone was coming to take out the biggest cheating scandal in sports. Framing is flat out stealing strikes from the hitter, but it is thought to be a skill. The sooner robo ump is here the better.

    1. Total agreement . The game is going back where it was and .190 hitters better step up and improve . The shift was a lazy way to take hits away from skilled players . Pitchers will have to adjust . The strike zone being automated will take away the lack of skill from some umpires who flat can’t see the ball .

    2. Banning the shift is long overdue . It is a lazy man’s way of taking a good hitter out of a game he learned without a shift . It will require those .190 hitters to learn to make contact and not just a hit homer once and a while . They will have to improve or move on . The automated strike zone will be a blessing since umpires have gotten way too bad at calling balls and strikes . I just think many of them cannot see the ball around the plate . I also think there is some gamesmanship more than ever before on how they handle some players . Takes away the thought of cheating .

    3. Gj you are obviously not a pitcher or student of the game. A good pitcher gets hitters out with pitches out of the strike zone. An electronic strike zone will change that dynamic.

      1. A poor inconsistent strike zone makes it worse for the hitters . They may start chasing balls a foot out of the strike zone . Time to fix that .

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