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Elephant Rumblings: Jed Lowrie on banning the shift

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics
May 29, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Jed Lowrie (8) celebrates with second baseman Tony Kemp (5) after hitting an RBI single during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at RingCentral Coliseum. 
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, Athletics Nation!

I hope you are having a fine Memorial Day. Let’s see if the A’s can get a little streak started today with ace Paul Blackburn on the mound to open the series against the Houston Astros today.

It’s been a good weekend for A’s veteran Jed Lowrie. Yesterday, he hit the game-winning shot in the A’s 6-5 walk-off win against Texas, saving his club from being swept at home for the third time this season. On Saturday, Lowrie spoke with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle about his feelings on the art of switch-hitting in a post-shift game.

Lowrie and Skye Bolt are the only switch-hitters currently on the A’s 40-man roster. Batting both ways has become increasingly less common as the infield shift on left-handed batters is now essentially routine, offsetting the advantage of switching sides in matchups against certain pitchers.

But with an MLB ban on shifts expected next year, a switch-hitting renaissance may be at hand, and Lowrie welcomes the prospect.

“Not just because as a hitter, it would benefit me,” Lowrie told Shea, “but for the entertainment value of the game. That’s a significant issue.”

Shea mentions that a number of recent international signees are switch-hitters, including 19-year-old Robert Puason, who signed with the A’s in 2019. Puason more recently switched to only batting right-handed due to struggles at the plate. But with a post-shift future seemingly imminent and plenty of time left to develop his game, Puason may want to get back to batting both ways as he progresses in professional baseball.

Lowrie would likely tell Puason “it’s probably worth it, but ... you’re going to have to put in twice as much work.”

So, AN, where do you come down on the shift? We can say we want the game to be more entertaining, but that doesn’t necessarily mean MLB should bring the outfield walls in 100 feet—though of course that’s an extreme example. Should the league ban the shift and help lefties get more hits, or should teams be free to field players as they see fit? Tell us in the comments below!

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Yes, that is Jed Lowrie giving a piggyback ride to Tony Kemp, with Elvis Andrus looking on from a distance with a bucket on his head.

A victory the whole family can celebrate. Thanks for the clutch hit, Jed!