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The Infield Shift is a generic term used in baseball to describe a defensive alignment in which there is an extreme realignment from the standard positions to blanket one side of the field or another. Used almost exclusively against left-handed batters, it is designed to protect against extra base hits pulled hard into the gaps between the fielders on the right side.

Originally called the "Boudreau" or "Williams" shift, it was used during the 1946 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals as a defensive gimmick by St. Louis manager Eddie Dyer to psych out and hopefully contain Boston slugger Ted Williams. It was devised by Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau on a blackboard between games of a doubleheader in July 1946 to halt Williams' hot hitting. "I always considered The Boudreau Shift a psychological, rather than a tactical victory," wrote Lou Boudreau in his book, Player-Manager. The shift has been employed since then to thwart extreme pull hitters (mostly lefties), such as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, or David Ortiz. And sometimes it's used against switch-hitters like Mark Teixeira for no discernible reason.

The historic alignment: third baseman moves to short/shallow left, shadowed by left fielder, shortstop plays right of second, second baseman plays between first and second, center fielder plays right-center, first baseman/right fielder hug the line.

Infield shifts have become more common in recent years, and the tactic's drawbacks have become more apparent. For example, in the 2009 World Series, Johnny Damon of the New York Yankees stole two bases on one pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies due to an infield shift; Damon first stole second, then, after an errant throw, immediately headed for third base, which was left uncovered.

In the 1970s, Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants bunted hard down the third base line when the shift was on. Willie Mays, on first at the time, came all the way around to score, while McCovey reached second for a double.[1]


  1. ^ Neyer, Rob. Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends.


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