MLB Is Deadening The Baseball, Will This Help Make Baseball Great Again?

After years of homers leaving stadiums at record pace, Major League Baseball is reportedly working on ‘deadening’ the ball. Now that it seems commissioner Rob Manfred is listening, will this change fix baseball?

I’ve clamored in the past that this change needed to be made, but style of play is still the main reason our youth has turned the game off.

Let’s use this video as an example of how too many homers hurt the game of baseball. If a swing like this produces the best possible outcome at the plate, then what’s enticing athletes to go the other way and beat a defensive shift?

Nothing, because a doo-doo swing like we just watched rewarded the Chicago Cubs with an early 1-0 lead. Teams that have signed hitters who are unwilling to commit to this one-dimensional strategy have been made for fools.

So, what happens now?

With the baseballs projected to be dialed back, it should, in theory, be harder to hit home runs. If that’s the case, maybe players will be forced to find more creative and interesting ways to score runs. Hitting balls over the shift will no longer be the game plan, and baseball will start to feel a little more normal and recognizable to its real fan base.

I’ve stated in past articles that the shift should not be banned, but it should at least be limited. Players should be able to go the other way, but we can’t possibly allow a second baseman to stand on the warning track in right field.

That’s not baseball.

We used to think relievers were killing the offense in postseason games, when reality was that velocity killed the cat. Putting the ball in play and going the other way became nearly impossible when pitchers averaged 93.5 mph fastballs.

Baseball will recover some of its base by making contact hitters more important, but there will still be room for other improvements.

Still, this is a step in the right direction that we should celebrate.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for OutKick.com, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

8 Comments

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  1. Um, the shift is nothing new. It’s simply the Flavor of the Month in defensive strategy. It also highlights the inability of most players to bunt, which is how the shift is best attacked.
    As to the statement: “style of play is still the main reason our youth has turned the game off.” I don’t think that there is a single element causing “youth” to turn off the game, but many things which vie for kids limited attention spans. Baseball is a game of both mind and body, where strategy is as important as skill. Video games are instant-reward machines, and the game of baseball isn’t geared that way.
    Might I suggest, in addition to deadening the ball, lower the stiches. If you’re going to make it harder on the hitters, make it harder on the pitchers, too. Tony Gwynn would approve.

  2. It’s not so much the home runs as it is the insane shifts and numerous pitching changes. I’m not against getting rid of the shift completely because it is a strategy. I’m ok with something like the SS and 3B can’t go to the right side of the field and vice versa for the 2B and 1B to the left side but they can line up wherever they want on their sides of the field. I’m also fine with the OF placing themselves wherever they want.

    I’ll say this because as a kid my favorite pro sport was Major League Baseball. Despite the fact it was a PED era…what made the 90s baseball good is that they had an assortment of speedy guys that hit for average at the top of the order (Kenny Lofton types)…bombers…and slap/doubles type hitters (Edgar Martinez). Starting pitchers were allowed to try and get out of trouble instead of the quick hook in the third inning and putting in 10 bullpen guys a game. It wasn’t everybody swings for the fences or strikes out. The diversity of the players made it entertaining.

  3. I’m right there with you Gary. Deadening the ball is a great thing to try. Hopefully it will bring the stolen base, hit-and-run, and taking the extra base back into the game. More runners on the base paths, more balls in play = a better game all the way around.

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