Major League Baseball has officially awarded the 2017 All-Star Game to the Miami Marlins.
It’s also convinced that the Orioles moved back to St. Louis.
That’s three straight National League cities, and Washington could make it four in a row in 2018. However, MLB is trying to be “fair” by alternating which league bats last, since these games determine home-field advantage in the World Series.
Meanwhile, the scream you heard earlier this week was Ubaldo Jimenez reacting to MLB’s interest in reducing the size of the strike zone.
Cut the guy a break!
Chris Davis would be fine with new commissioner Rob Manfred getting rid of the shift as a way of increasing run production. It wasn’t his friend in 2014.
How many times did Davis line a ball into shallow right field last season, only to walk back to the dugout in frustration, his average tumbling like my standards at 2 a.m.? An oblique injury was a mighty contributor to his .196 average. Let’s not lay all the blame on the shift. But I lost count of all the hits that the alignment cost him.
There’s one possible solution for Davis, and he’s finally on board with it.
“I think there are definitely situations where I need to bunt, and I know there was some frustration last year obviously with my batting average being as low as it was - not only on my part but the fan base and maybe even on some of my teammates’ part - as far as me hitting into the shift,” Davis said earlier this week on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“First of all, when you’re not swinging the bat well and you’re kind of trying to find it, for me, I want to go up there and have an at-bat. I don’t want to just lay a bunt down. There were times last year when I did lay a bunt down, but for me it’s really a comfort thing. It’s different going out there and working off a machine or even a BP arm and laying balls down the third base line and going into a game and doing it. For me, it was just a comfort thing and I have worked on it this offseason. I’ve probably worked on it more this offseason than I have in the past. If it’s a one-run game, I’m probably not going to lay one down, but there are situations where unselfishly it’s probably the best thing to do. It’s definitely a weapon I can use against other teams.
“I think the biggest thing for me last year was just seeing how drastic the shift was. I remember when Texas came in, I hit something like three or four balls on a line in the four hole, which is right over the first baseman’s right shoulder. These are balls that most of the time are going to be singles, if not doubles, and the second baseman caught them at his chest on a line, and I was just thinking, ‘Man, that’s not even fair. Those are good hits right there that are being taken away.’ “
Few teams employ the shift more than the Orioles. It’s become a common move now, and not just on the right side.
“I think you saw it a lot last year on a wider scale with right-handers as well,” Davis said. “In the past, usually Big Papi, your big left-handed hitters, you’d see them shift a little bit. Jim Thome was another guy. But last year was the first time I really saw right-handers and left-handers get shifted and it changed the game. It really did.”
Here’s my question to you: Should Davis bunt more or is he just playing into the opposing manager’s hands by not being a home run threat?
I say he needs to do it in certain situations. Not necessarily when one swing ties the game, but if the Orioles need a baserunner, Davis is struggling and the left side of the infield is unoccupied. It also depends on who’s batting behind him in those situations.
Shameless plug alert: I’m making my final in-studio appearance on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from noon-2 p.m. before heading to spring training.
And finally, Happy Valentine’s Day to the folks who love Hallmark holidays, and Happy 22nd birthday to my wonderful daughter. So glad report date is later this year and I’m able to spend part of it with her.