In theory, Major League Baseball changed their rules to kill the shift. The Boston Red Sox found a way around that.
According to the new rules, each side of the infield has to have two players on either side of second base. All of the infielders have to be on the dirt when the ball is thrown. In essence, MLB is looking to eliminate a strategy that has existed since the days of Cy Williams because players refuse to hit the opposite way.
Boston Red Sox circumvent shift rules
That is, in theory. The Red Sox found a way to circumvent those rules and still utilize a shift against Joey Gallo during spring training. Instead of moving their infielders, they shifted the outfield to still have that player on the grass between first and second while moving their left fielder almost to center.
Spring training is a perfect time for experimentation. Teams may shift players to different spots on the diamond in an attempt to improve their versatility. Different lineups may be used just to see how players handle those roles. Different strategies could be used depending on who is at the plate. For the Red Sox, spring training was a way to see if they could still make a shift work against Gallo and players of his ilk.
It is possible that other teams will copy the Red Sox strategy. The league’s shift to a Three True Outcomes strategy and pull happy left handed hitters has not changed. The league can take away one strategy to get those players out, but another one will appear. The Red Sox proved exactly that.
There is a new variation on the shift. The Boston Red Sox may have found a way around Major League Baseball’s new rules.