Monday, September 4, 2023

Xander Bogaerts Commits Shift Violation After Giants Challenge

Giants batter Patrick Bailey's 9th inning groundout in San Diego was nullified when Replay Review overturned umpires to call a defensive shift violation on Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ruling the infielder failed to begin play within the dirt boundary. San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler successfully challenged the play, resulting in a penalty ball added to the count, but if you watched the Padres broadcast, you likely were left with quite a few questions about this call.

In addition to bigger bases and a pitch clock, MLB instituted defensive shift limits for 2023, making it illegal for less than two infielders to occupy each side of the infield, as well as prohibiting infielders from starting play on the outfield grass.

Kapler thus challenged that Bogaerts began with his heels on the outfield grass, which is a violation of the shift rule (by about two inches, but a violation nonetheless).

The confusion came from San Diego TV starting its replays too late, after Padres pitcher Josh Hader had already engaged the rubber and began his motion to come home.

Although MLB's website lists the requirement as, "The four infielders must be within the boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber," instructional videos from the league itself along with in-game graphics from San Francisco's broadcast use the phrase "when pitcher begins delivery."

Regardless of which standard one uses, however, replays conclusively indicate Bogaerts' heels were on the outfield grass and outside the boundary of the infield when the pitcher began delivery or motion to the plate, which is an infield shift violation.


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