Ned Yost would like to see defensive shifts outlawed in major leagues

Put Ned Yost in baseball’s anti-defensive shift camp.

The topic arose from a recent report affirming that baseball was on pace to have the fewest singles in a season, and Yost had his reason.

“It’s a product of the shift in my mind, more than anything else,” Yost said. “It’s harder to hit singles. You either go the other way or find a crease, which is increasingly more difficult than it’s ever been.

The story by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports suggests several factors for singles accounting for 63.69 percent of the base hits in baseball this year: swing changes, strikeouts and defensive position chief among them.

Asked if he’d like to see shifts — usually a shortstop playing on the right side or a second baseman playing on the left side of the infield — outlawed, Yost nodded.

“Go for it,” Yost said. “Set it up. The game has changed so much. You can’t slide into second base (aggressively), you can’t make more than six visits to the mound, you can’t slide into home plate (through the catcher). I’m fine with all that.

“But you talk about low scoring, you talk about strikeouts, if you can eliminate the shift it’s going to increase offense. It’s hard to hit singles. It’s hard to bunch together runs. You’ve got to hit homers or doubles now.

“I don’t know they would ever do it but if they came to me and say would you like to outlaw the shifts, I would say yes.”

Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon often face shifts, and Moustakas saw more shifts than all by two players in baseball last season.