MLB recently announced a slew of rule changes coming to the Majors in 2023. While a 15-second pitch clock and bigger bases caught some fans' eyes, one of the biggest changes is the elimination of the shift on defense.
Many players should benefit from the shift rule change, especially as far as left-handed hitters go. The Athletic's Eno Sarris lists Houston Astros slugger Kyle Tucker as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the upcoming defensive changes.
Houston Astros News
When the 2023 MLB season begins, clubs must have two infielders on each side of second base before a pitch is thrown. Additionally, there must be at least four players with their feet on the infield dirt boundaries, which should work to Tucker's benefit.
Tucker has faced the shift in a career-high 90.4% of plate appearances in 2022, according to Baseball Savant. It's worked against him more often than not, proven by his .341 weighted on-base average (wOBA) when a shift is in effect compared to his .471 wOBA when there isn't one.
Sarris lists Tucker's batting average on ground balls up the middle at .405 — a number that should increase without the shift. Considering how the first-time All-Star has recorded 29 home runs and 102 RBIs with this shift this season, fans could get a glimpse of his full potential next year.
At the end of the day, there are still several months before those rules come into effect. In the meantime, Tuckers turns his focus towards helping the Astros win their first World Series title since 2017.
Astros World Series Odds
The Astros have a tremendous chance to win the 2022 World Series, according to FanDuel Sportsbook's MLB odds. Their +400 odds to win the title trail only the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit first at +290.
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