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Mariners legend Harold Reynolds: May be time for MLB to ‘legislate’ the shift

Shifting three or more players to one side of the infield is a regularity in the MLB today. (Getty)

Former Mariners All-Star Harold Reynolds still keeps a close eye on the game of baseball as an analyst for the MLB Network. And as an ex-player who spent his entire career playing second base, it’s no surprise that he some thoughts on the infield shifts that are being employed more and more to defend against pull-heavy hitters.

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It might be a surprise that Reynolds’ opinion on the shift has changed, however.

“I was always a proponent (that) you can shift all you want, it’s up to the hitter to hit the ball the other way,” Reynolds told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom, “but clearly there’s no interest in that and they’re not teaching guys that as much.”

Reynolds thinks it’s time baseball does something about it.

“I kind of feel like they need to legislate (to) no shifting,” he said.

The MLB is setting records left and right this year for home runs, something that may be a result of the way the league’s baseballs are now being constructed. Hitters have been putting more emphasis into launch angles and other ways to maximize their power numbers in recent years, as well, and some teams are shoehorning power hitters into their lineups at the expense of defense. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers have used lumbering corner infielders Mike Moustakas and Travis Shaw as second basemen during this season and last despite neither having any prior experience at the position.

Reynolds explained why he doesn’t think that adds up to a compelling game for fans to watch.

“It’s all about the long ball (now). When the ball’s not in play, it’s not a good game, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Reynolds said. “I think also it’s taking away a lot of athleticism. We see a guy like Mike Moustakas or Shaw with Milwaukee, those guys are playing second base now, and those are third basemen that are hitting 20-plus home runs. I think we’ve lost a lot of the athleticism (to the game) – the pivot doesn’t matter, there’s a slide rule that doesn’t affect guys, so there’s some rules I think need to change to get the game more athletic.

“We’re seeing a lot of home runs and the ball not in play quite as much. I’m not sure that’s good for the game.”

Reynolds also shared his thoughts on the Mariners’ rebuild and much more during the segment, which you can listen to in the player embedded in this post or download in podcast form here.

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