Major League Baseball
Red Sox employ loophole to MLB shift ban against Joey Gallo
Major League Baseball

Red Sox employ loophole to MLB shift ban against Joey Gallo

Updated Mar. 3, 2023 9:08 p.m. ET

When MLB announced it was banning the shift as we knew it in 2023, probably no player stood to benefit more than Joey Gallo.

The left-handed slugger has faced all sorts of shifts over the years due to his hitting makeup of being a pull hitter who hits for power and strikes out very often. Typically, one of the infielders would move into shallow right field, while there would be no one occupying the usual third base spot whenever Gallo stepped up to the plate, making it tougher for him to get on base via a hit.

So, MLB mandating that every team have two infielders on each side of second base was likely welcome news to Gallo. 

However, Gallo was met with an unfortunate but somewhat typical sight in the Minnesota Twins' spring training game against the Red Sox on Friday. The Red Sox found a loophole in the new rules, moving center fielder Adam Duvall into shallow right field and left fielder Ramiel Tapia to center field.


The shift the Red Sox deployed was very similar to the one that Gallo has faced over the past several seasons. The only difference was that instead of the third base area being open, left field was left unoccupied.

Gallo got the upper hand on the Red Sox in his second inning at-bat, drawing a walk to nullify Boston's shift. He flew out to center field in his other at-bat in Friday's game.

Prior to the infield shift being banned in 2023, Gallo was one of the biggest advocates of banning it. 

"I get the defensive strategies. I do. I am 100 percent not against that … But I think at some point, you have to fix the game a little bit," Gallo told The Athletic in February 2022. "I don't understand how I'm supposed to hit a double or triple when I have six guys standing in the outfield."

Gallo has struggled to reach base when he hits the ball in play. He has a .236 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) over the last three seasons, which is the fifth-lowest BABIP among players who've recorded at least 1,000 plate appearances over that span, according to FanGraphs

Last season was particularly tough for Gallo. He hit .160 and posted a .280 on-base percentage, both the lowest of his career. He also had a 39.8% strikeout rate, which was the worst among all players who had at least 400 appearances, and hit 19 home runs, the fewest he's hit in a season he's played at least 100 games. 

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