JUPITER, FL.-- Unless MLB’s new commissioner Rob Manfred follows through on recent comments in the media that he’d be open to eliminating defensive shifts it doesn’t look like 1st baseman Matt Adams is going to have much of a choice.
Teams will continue to move an extra infielder to the right side of the infield as to limit the amount of damage he can do pulling the ball. That may hurt Adams in one way. But it also opens up the opportunity to take advantage of the fact just one infielder remains on the left side of the infield.
At times last year Adams showed bunt down the 3rd base line to get it into the heads of opposing teams that he could use that strategy. It really didn’t work all that much. This year Cards manager Mike Matheny would like to see something slightly different.
“I don’t want him to show it more. I want him to execute it more,” Matheny said Thursday morning before the team worked out on the back fields of the Roger Dean Stadium complex. “We showed it (last year), it just wasn’t very effective.
“The guys have to buy into it. If (Adams) wants to keep hitting into the shift then don’t try and beat it. The only way to beat it is what (Cubs 1st baseman Anthony) Rizzo did to us. He said ‘I’ll take a single all day long’. It’s just smart in my opinion,” Matheny said.
It’s worth noting this past offseason Cards GM John Mozeliak said he wanted to see more power from Adams. The 26-year old slugger hit just 15 home runs and had a .779 OPS in 527 at-bats. Those are terrific numbers for a middle infielder. But 1st basemen who are hitting clean up more often than not are expected to do more.
Knowing this, it will be curious to watch how much bunting Adams tries in 2015. He could elect to just hit the ball as hard as he can wherever he can and hope for the best with regards to defensive alignments.