Even with the new MLB rule changes, Joey Gallo cannot escape the shift.
During the Red Sox and Twins spring training game on Friday (March 3), Boston pulled out a unique defensive alignment against Minnesota’s newest lefty outfielder. The Red Sox moved left fielder Raimel Tapia to center and brought center fielder Adam Duvall in between second and first base, leaving left field completely open.
Red Sox go with a two-man outfield vs. Joey Gallo, playing the third outfielder in short right field where a shifted second basemen might have been previously. pic.twitter.com/U3oDyh29jD
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) March 3, 2023
It appears to be the first circumvention of the MLB’s new shift ban that was introduced for this upcoming season. The rule states that all infielders must have at least one foot on the infield dirt but it has no stipulations for outfielders, so the Red Sox decided to put Duvall in the spot that would normally be occupied by a shifted second baseman.
It’s a bold strategy, as a simple blooper to left field could turn into extra bases for Gallo. However, Gallo is one of the most notorious pull hitters in the league, hitting to the right side on nearly 55% of his batted balls last season which was the most in the league among those with at least 400 plate appearances. More than that, his .219 batting average on balls in play was fourth-worst in the MLB among the 400-PA players, leading to him being shifted on 90% of his plate appearances.
The rule change is an attempt by the MLB to make games more exciting and increase the number of hits on balls in play. The past six years have seen games feature the least number of singles in MLB history and the league-wide .243 batting average was the lowest it has been since 1968. We could see other teams move outfielders in similar ways to the Red Sox, especially when playing Gallo and the Twins, leading to more discussion surrounding the necessity of the shift and its effectiveness.
The shift ended up not mattering in the end, as Gallo walked in five pitches. He finished 0-1 with a run as the Red Sox would go on to win 9-4.
What did you think of this play from the Red Sox? Let us know by leaving a reaction at the bottom of this post or by tweeting us @celebsecrets.