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Elephant Rumblings: Experimental ‘pie-slice rule’ to limit shift in Low-A

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

The shift: it punishes left handed batters. It punishes push hitters. Who knows how it would have affected the career of Pete Rose? Wait—did you just ask, “Who cares?” Fair enough. But whatever you think of Charlie Hustle, the shift has certainly been both defensively effective and controversial.

As Jayson Stark at The Athletic detailed yesterday, experiments in limiting the shift in the minor leagues had almost no impact last year, as simply requiring two infielders to play on each side of second base seemed easy to work around. In response, a more restrictive “pie-slice rule” will begin its test run in the Low-A Florida State League beginning July 22nd.

The pie-slice takes the “two on each side” rule a step further by creating a pie-shaped zone drawn with two chalk lines running from the outfield-facing edges of second base to the edge of the infield dirt (there’s a helpful illustration of this in Stark’s piece). This zone will be off limits for infielders when the ball is not in play. This means that an infielder can be positioned right next to the bag, but the deeper he plays, the farther to the left or right he is forced to set up.

Time will tell how many more hits will sneak through the pie-slice, but it’s easy to imagine the change will have some effect. Stark indicates that while there is no clear ETA for shift restrictions in the big leagues, they will inevitably be implemented in some form sooner or later.

I’m interested to see how the pie-slice plays out in the minors, but I’m more concerned with what effect it could have on our late-game thread banter. Athletics Nation members have been fond of the “one to tie, two for pie” adage in potential walk-off situations; could the infield pie-slice confuse matters?

Perhaps a new saying will be, “Through the pie to break the tie!”

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