Shift Rule Loophole Allows Red Sox To "Shift" On Joey Gallo


Well, that didn't take long. Just a few days into spring training games, and teams are already finding ways to circumvent the new shift ban. The Boston Red Sox were the first team to use a blatant loophole in the rule to apply, essentially, an "outfield shift" that replicated the old infield shift against Joey Gallo in Grapefruit League play today. 

Center fielder Adam Duvall slotted into that shallow right field spot where an infielder had slid into in the past, while the left fielder shifted over to cover more of center.  

Incredibly, there's nothing in the new rule that stops teams from deploying their outfielders in such a way so as to circumvent the shift. Thus, the Red Sox took full advantage of the loophole, figuring that the very pull-heavy Gallo wouldn't be able to stroke the ball opposite field into the completely vacated left field. 

Gallo, who struggled mightily the past couple of seasons, was one of baseball's biggest targets for the shift the past few years, and was one of the players breathing a big sigh of relief when the new rules came in. Last year, Gallo said "I think at some point, you have to fix the game a little bit. I mean, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to hit a double or triple when I have six guys standing in the outfield.”

As of 2023, the new shift ban rule states that teams must deploy two infielders on each side of second base, and they must all have their feet on the infield dirt. 

If more teams pull off this devious outfield move, perhaps we'll see MLB try to implement some type of addendum to the rule to prevent it. 

Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC