Joey Gallo can’t escape the shift, even after MLB’s ban

One of MLB’s many rule changes this season is widely referred to as a no-shifting ban, but that’s not entirely accurate, new Minnesota Twins outfielder Joey Gallo learned Friday.

Gallo, a sure-footed hitter and one of the players most affected by the shift, once again ran into a quarterback in the shallows between first and second base in a spring practice game against the Boston Red Sox.

For this shift, the Red Sox retained the infield near their regular positions, but moved left fielder Raimel Tapia to center field and center fielder Adam Duvall to their usual shift position:

Why could the Red Sox do this? Well, MLB’s new rule was to get rid of the shift by requiring all fielders to stay in the infield and have two of them on either side of second base at all times. The rules, however, say nothing about what teams can’t do with outfielders.

If a team like the Red Sox is more concerned about a single line drive to the right than a potential off-base hit into empty left field, it’s still their prerogative to move the outfield as they please. Teams are also allowed to bring in an outfielder to form a five-man infield in a situation where ball defense is critical.

As a result, Gallo can still struggle to get the non-Homer hits that have eluded him in his career.

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: Joey Gallo #13 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Boston Red Sox during the fifth inning at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on February 27, 2023 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Joey Gallo was on the shift in nine out of 10 record appearances last season. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Among players with at least 1,200 games in the last three years, Gallo’s .236 batting average in balls per game ranks third among all MLB players, according to Fangraphs. He hits the ball hard, doesn’t run slow on bases, has a ball speed faster than Aaron Judge, and a line speed faster than Juan Soto last year, according to the baseball maven, but he also hit the 90 shift. % of your time. plate appearance.

Combine that with a terrible strikeout rate of 39.8% and you could turn an All-Star into a journeyman who hit .160/.280/.357 between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Whether Gallo can change, change or not change will determine the fate of his career.


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