7-1-18 - Ted Williams
The Shift was employed against Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox

7-1-18 - Lou Boudreau
Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau stationed six players on the right side
7-1-18 - Francesco Valenzula
Valenzuela's career batting average was .200 with 10 home runs
7-1-18 - Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner's career batting average is .181 with 17 home runs
Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

The Designated Hitter and The Shift

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
The Designated Hitter (DH)

Let's face it.  Like it or not, the Designated Hitter (DH) is inevitably coming to the National League. The DH began as an experiment that was going to be tested for three years but it was permanently adopted by the American League and later by most amateur and minor league teams.

As a matter of fact, the DH is used in most professional baseball leagues around the world today. Some exceptions include the NL and Little League rules.

The first time the DH rule was used was on April 6, 1973, on Opening Day when New York Yankees' Ron Blomberg was inserted in the lineup as a DH and hit for the pitcher. Since then, the DH has been used in the AL for the last 46 years.

Purists say that the DH takes away from the all-around performance of a big league player while some say a DH should never go into the Hall of Fame. Others argue that it is a disadvantage during postseason for an AL team playing at a NL park, since pitchers-who often are not good hitters-don't even bat for a whole season in the AL and they have to come to the plate.

From my memory, I recall these pitchers as decent hitters: Ken Brett, Mike Hampton, Carlos Zambrano, Fernando Valenzuela, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner and many others who pitched prior to 1973 when they had to hit in both leagues.

Overall, the ninth position has been reserved for the pitcher because is usually the weakest hitter in the lineup. The majority of pitchers in both leagues have a pitch count limit and bullpens have become essential for winning, part of the transformation of the game. The older you are, the more traditional you are when it comes to this topic.

Now one generation of fans have seen the DH and because the game currently is much more about home runs than hit-and-run, bunt-and-steal, the brainwashing has been fully executed.

But again, sooner than later the DH will be implemented in the NL.

The Shift

In 1941 Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox hit .406. Nobody has come near that since. The history books tell us that The Shift was born when Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau used it in July of 1946. That was a more extreme version with six defenders stationed on the right side. 1946 was the first season for Ted Williams after serving the previous three years in World War II, and he ended that season hitting just .342.

Today you do not need to be Ted Williams to see everybody on one side of the field. You can be a .240 hitter and see close to what "Teddy Ballgame" used to see. Some guys now are finally learning to go the other way, but not enough yet.

Maybe in a few years The Shift will be part of the past and in history will be considered an experiment like the DH was originally intended to be. Today's batting averages are lower while home runs and strikeouts are higher.

If this continues, what good is The Shift if you either hit the ball over the fence or strike out?

I have to confess I do not care much for The Shift that we see today and I believe it will not last as long as the DH. That is only my opinion. I could be wrong but I am not a dictator, so I welcome and respect your opinion.

Amaury Pi-González is the Spanish Voice of the Oakland Athletics and a pioneer in establishing Spanish baseball radio in the Bay Area. Pi-Gonzalez was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2010. Games are on KIQI 1010AM/990AM radio in the Bay Area and Northern California. They can also be heard in Spanish on the SAP on NBC Sports California. Total of 74 games (71 home games plus three on the road) from
AT&T Park in San Francisco.  Published courtesy: 

3-6-17 - Pops

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