San Diego Padres star Juan Soto is one of the best hitters in MLB.
He has shown time and time again that he can have success pulling the ball, hitting it to the center of the field, and going the other way.
However, he was frequently shifted against last season and coincidentally, his offensive numbers fell off a bit considering his lofty standards.
The owner of a 1.185 OPS in 2020, a .999 mark in 2021, and a .950 OPS for his career, he was at .853 OPS last year: still good, but not quite elite.
The league is banning the shift starting from this upcoming season.
MLB defenses will need to have two defenders at each side of second base at the moment of the pitch.
Still, they will surely still find ways to overload the side they want within the new limits, but the heavy shifts with all men, or three men on one side of second base will be gone.
That appears to be great news for Soto, at least judging by the early spring training results.
MLB: *bans shift*
Juan Soto: pic.twitter.com/NLXC2qx0Zg
— Nick Lee (@NickLee51) March 2, 2023
The man is batting .727 with a 2.023 OPS in the early going.
MLB teams are already implementing the new rules in games: the pitch clock, the bigger bases, and no shift.
Soto likes it, apparently.
Most of the hitting issues that plagued him last season weren’t related to the shift, but the absence of it will likely result in a higher batting average than the .242 he had.
We could be watching a resurgent season of sorts by the talented slugger and perennial MVP candidate.NEXT: Manny Machado Comments On Being Inspired By A Legend