PHOENIX -- If Major League Baseball commissioners were elected by the popular vote of the players, Joe Girardi would have at least one vote in the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse.
Moss was responding to Girardi’s comments Tuesday that, if he were commissioner, he would ban nontraditional shifts of three or more infielders on one side of the diamond. Moss typically is one of the major league hitters who sees the most shifts. He first started noticing extreme shifts in 2012 and by 2013, the number he saw had increased exponentially. In 2014, Moss hit 255 balls into shifts, fifth most in baseball.
“Listen, there’s no doubt that against a lot of hitters, myself included, it’s a good practice and it works, but it certainly doesn’t make it as much fun,” Moss said. “You spend your whole life learning to hit a whole way. As a left-handed hitter, you learn when a runner’s on first to try to hit that hole and move the runner or to stay up the middle, hit a line drive up the middle. Now, all of a sudden, when you become an adult, that’s not a good idea because now there’s someone standing there.”
Moss occasionally lays down a bunt early in counts and teams traditionally pinch in until he gets one strike in the at-bat. Then, they send three infielders to the right side of the infield, often frustrating Moss by fielding sharp ground balls in shallow right field.
Asked if he agreed with Girardi’s opinion, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was intrigued but not willing to change his approach. The Cardinals shifted more than all but two other National League teams -- the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers -- last season.
“It’s just part of the evolution of the game,” Matheny said. “It took a little while to talk our guys into seeing that it can be beneficial and there are still some guys who aren’t that into it. But I think the game has proven and the numbers have proven it works. There’ll be something new next, but right now we need it as a weapon with our defense. I’d like to hear Joe’s opinion on it overall.”
Baseball's actual commissioner, Rob Manfred, created a stir early last winter by suggesting he would explore banning shifts as part of his efforts to beef up offense, but Manfred later backed off that notion in comments to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.