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How to Beat the Shift

In this day and age, the shift is used on a regular basis in baseball. For those unfamiliar with the term, a defensive shift is where a team moves their players towards one side of the field. It has become a vital defensive strategy in the game today based on a hitter’s tendencies as to where they frequently hit the ball. On some occasions, it’s just used to psyche hitters out. Here are some tips on how young hitters can learn to beat the shift.

Hall of Fame hitter, Willie McCovey (Courtesy of britannica.com)

Every now and then, try bunting for a hit. In situations where you need to get on base, bunting is a great way to overcome the shift.

Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey frequently saw the shift during his MLB career to the point that it was dubbed, “the McCovey Shift”. Rumor has it that McCovey once bunted the ball down the third base line in a game which scored his teammate, Willie Mays from first base thanks to the extreme shift. McCovey ended up getting a rare bunt double.

Faking a bunt could also cause the defense to think twice about their defensive alignment. It can make the defense realign themselves which can open up some holes for you if you choose to swing away.

Daniel Murphy’s swing (Courtesy of newyork.cbslocal.com)

Learn to hit the ball where it’s pitched. The shift is commonly used for hitters that tend to pull the ball regardless of pitch location. In batting practice, work on going with the pitch. Having the ability to drive a baseball to all parts of the field can make you a tough out.

Infielder, Daniel Murphy has a lifetime batting average of .288 and defenses still tend to use some sort of shift against him instead of playing straight up. Murphy is disciplined enough to go with the pitch and not pull the ball like several other left-handed batters at the MLB level.

Practice hitting line drives consistently. Line drives have a better chance of getting through the infield than grounders.

Designated hitter, David Ortiz has seen the shift for most of his professional hitting career. Yet, he has over 2,000 career hits and six Silver Slugger awards. Case in point, hitting the ball on the screws can defeat any defensive alignment.

Becoming a complete hitter can make you a nightmare for pitchers and defenses. It’s just a matter of putting in the work. It’s easy to pull the ball but it takes great hitting mechanics to spray the baseball across the diamond.

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