MLB shift limits raising batter spirits and averages so far Chris Sale throws 2 scoreless innings vs. Tigers
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – When the Yankees switch to hitters Aaron Hicks When he hit from the left side last season, he was almost always met with an infield change, a wall of defenders camped in the shallow right field.
Thus, it was a startling moment in the New York dugout when Hicks – facing traditional infield leveling – made his first clean single from right field at the start of this spring practice.
“He probably hasn’t seen this hit in eight years,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Hicks and the rest of baseball’s top turnover players are adjusting to a new reality – or rather, adjusting to an old one – after Major League Baseball passed rules restricting field changes ahead of this season.
So far, these restrictions seem to be uplifting – and they may also support averages.
“I really hope this isn’t the year I start hitting the ball all the way to the ground,” left-handed Yankee. Anthony Rizzo said with a smile. “Especially young left-handed hitters will be introduced to a 3-4 hole that hasn’t been seen in about seven to eight years.”
Teams must now keep two infielders on each side of second base, all of whom must have their feet in the mud when pitching. The goal is to make room for a few more singles in each game after data-driven teams have spent the last decade carefully designing defensive formations geared towards each offensive player’s tendencies.
It’s still too early for spring training to draw conclusions from the numbers, but key stats show a promising direction for the hitters. The first 10 days of spring training hitting averages have risen to .263 in 2023 from .259 last season.
It’s important to note that left-handed hitters — the most frequent targets of modern infield change — are hitting .274 this spring, up from .255, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The average for the right-hander dropped from .262 to .255. The overall result is 11.3 runs per game compared to 10.6.
There is some disagreement in the sports analysis community about what impact the gear change restrictions will have, but it looks like it is at least affecting the psyche of the hitters.
“It would be great if you didn’t get thrown out of shallow right field on a linear drive,” said Rizzo, who changed 82.6% of his matches last season.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he’s noticed some changes as early as this spring, but expects more attacks to come later as major league regulars play games deeper.
“I think there have already been so many balls this spring that if you look to see if it was last year, they didn’t take place. We had a defender there,” Cash said.
Referees have broad powers to enforce the league’s new rules, but some clubs are already testing how strict those rules are.
When a lefty bats Joey Gallo – Changed 90% of his matches last year – The Minnesota Twins took the field in a game against the Boston Red Sox last week, Boston experimented with a loophole in the new rules by moving the center fielder Adam Duvall shallow right field and left fielder Raimel Tapia to the center of the field.
The change didn’t make much of a difference since Gallo took a stroll, but this is the new reality in baseball as teams start looking for rule advantage in 2023.
Marlins first base coach John Jaywho had 840 singles among 1,087 career hits, believes the change could lead to more smallball.
“We see already grounded balls moving up the center that became outs after the shift,” he said. “It will definitely lead to more attack. I think the single plays a big role now. You see those 10 hoppers in the middle and those flip balls in the hole… those are hits again.”
Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarberwho was displaced 90.5% of the time in 2022, believes that displacement may also contribute to greater contact.
“I hit 200 times last year,” Schwarber said during the Phillies’ spring camp. He had a career-high 200 strikeouts last season. “This is unacceptable. If I can cut 50-75, that will be more balls in the game. And without that wall (shift) there might be a few people to squeeze through.”
TEMPE, Arizona. — Chris Sale spent two scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox as the seven-time All-Star struggles to bounce back from three consecutive seasons marred by injury.
Sale gave up two hits and struck out two against Detroit in his first outing this spring practice.
“I got it back. I appreciate it more,” Sale said in an interview with the Boston Globe. “I’m trying to get more enjoyment out of it; I’m trying to be more open; I’m trying to sort of soak in some things and really appreciate it.”
Sale was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game throughout the 2010s, but has thrown just 48 1/3 innings since 2019. He missed the 2020 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then suffered numerous injuries last season, including a bike accident. – this kept him from the mound.
The 33-year sale is the fourth season of a five-year, $145 million deal.
Baltimore Orioles right-hander Michael Givens was called out for two balls in the fourth inning.
Givens was called on both balls because he did not come to a complete stop during the stretch before delivering his serve. MLB says umpires look for more balls when runners are on base.
Givens has just one career break in 419 regular season games.
Some pitchers, especially pitchers, have bizarre features in their pitching and never stop completely before pitching. This is technically a block, but referees usually ignore these ticks.
Not anymore. A complete stop with no movement becomes more meaningful because the pitch clock operator turns off the new pitch clock as soon as the pitcher starts moving towards the plate.
Givens still had a scoreless relief half, striking out two.
TURNER PITCH TO THE FACE
Linebacker Boston Red Sox Justin Turner left Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers after being hit in the face with a pitch.
Turner, 38, fell to the ground after being hit by the Detroit right-hander. Matt Manning as the medical staff rushed to the plate. He was bleeding and had a towel over his face as he walked off the field.
“He is receiving treatment for soft tissue injuries and is being monitored for concussion,” the Red Sox said in a statement. “It will undergo further testing and we will let you know when we have more information. Justin is stable, considerate and in good spirits given the circumstances.”
The two-time All-Star signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Red Sox during the off-season after spending the past nine years with the Dodgers. He hit .278 with 13 homers and 81 RBIs in 128 games last season.
TROUT IS READY FOR THE WBC
star of angels Mike Trout was 0 out of 2 in his last setup before joining USA for the World Baseball Classic.
The US has exhibitions on the Wednesday and Thursday before Saturday’s first match against the Brit in Phoenix.
Trout, captain of Team USA, is on a team that includes Mook Betts, Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado And Paul Goldschmidt.
“It will be special,” Trout said. “We just go there, have some fun, see what happens. We have a pretty good team, but there are a lot of great countries. We’ll see how it goes.”
CASTILLO JOINS THE SAILORS
Two-time All-Star Luis Castillo played 2 1/3 innings for the Mariners on Monday, allowing four hits and two runs against the Chicago Cubs in his second start. He struck out four and hit the batter.
The 30-year-old right-hander was acquired from Cincinnati last summer and signed to a five-year, $108 million contract. Castillo has been 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts since the trade and has helped Seattle top the postseason since 2001.
Unlike many of his All-Star teammates, including outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Teoscar Hernandez, Castillo chose not to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC.
“That was the decision our big group came to,” Castillo said of staying. “I feel like my team has all the talent to go ahead and win.”
One of the newcomers he ran into on Monday was a longtime Reds battery mate. Tucker Barnhartwho signed with Chicago in the offseason as a free agent.
“I think that was the first time I encountered him,” Castillo said. “We spent a lot of time together. When we were there he laughed and I laughed and we just had fun.”
Castillo had the last laugh, relegating his former slow roller catcher to third place.
The Atlanta Braves plan to stop selling season tickets to keep tickets available for individual games.
Braves president Derek Schiller says this is the first time in the team’s history that season ticket sales have been discontinued before the first game.
The Braves plan to stop selling season tickets around March 17th. The team says it’s getting closer to Truist Park’s 2022 record of over 3.1 million visitors. The Braves finished fourth in the majors last season, averaging 38,461 fans at Truist Park.
“Right now, we’re focused on making sure more of our fans, who only show up for one or two games, can buy seats,” Schiller said in a statement released by the team.
The Braves say their first home game against San Diego on April 6 and some other high-profile games are already approaching sell-out or standing-room status.