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Monday, April 7, 2014

Batters are dumber than usual this season, hitting into the shift most of the time.

For many years pitchers have said that batters are dumb.

The big innovation in 2014 is that just about every team is using the shift a lot.  The shift is placing fielders, usually infielders, where the batter tends to hit the ball.  Until recently this was reserved for Ted Williams and a few others.  Now it's all the rage.

So how have batters responded?  They haven't.  The few to address it have indicated that they do not want to change what they prefer doing.  I'd have thought that they prefer getting hits but apparently only their way.

Managers seem to have no influence over their batters.  That's been the case for several years but it's much more noticeable this season because there are so many occurrences of batters ignoring wide open areas and trying to hit the ball into the crowded part of the field.

Especially against left handed batters, teams are playing three and almost all four infielders on the right side of second base.  The entire left side of the infield is open but the batters continue to pull the ball into the teeth of the shift.

But here's the thing.  These batters don't even need to change how they swing.  Don't swing at all.  Bunt.  Bunt for a hit.  Bunt for a double.  It's almost a sure hit and if the hit is for two bases the batter pads both his on base average and his slugging average and thus his OPS (on base plus slugging).

So what would we call someone who does not do this?  Dumb.

And what should we call a game like this?  Boring.

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