With defensive shifts increasing leaguewide from around 2,400 in 2010 to 18,000 in 2015, pitchers have had to get used to the trend. Clayton Kershaw isn't one of them.
"I think just mentally for me I can live with a hard-hit ball getting through a hole as opposed to a soft, cheap ground ball that goes through because no one is playing there because of a shift," the Los Angeles Dodgers ace said, according to the Orange County Register. "Mentally, it's just easier for me to swallow. You start making excuses in your head like, 'Ah, I made my pitch.' You just don't want to have that in the back of your mind. At least I don't."
While new Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has said that the shift will be a big part of the team's game, Kershaw said that is "definitely a conversation that we need to have," if they plan to do it behind him, according to the newspaper.
"So if he's not comfortable -- especially a pitcher as accomplished as Clayton is -- you've gotta have the buy-in. If he's not comfortable and doesn't trust what we're doing behind him, then it doesn't work," Roberts said, according to the Register. "Certain guys that we might shift for a certain pitcher ... we might not with Clayton if he doesn't feel comfortable with it. I just don't think it's the manager's call or the coaches' call if a certain accomplished pitcher doesn't feel comfortable."
Kershaw said that he wants to take more into account than just spray charts.
"I think it's a little more complex than that," he said, according to the newspaper. "How does he hit me? And how am I going to pitch him? All that stuff. If they do all that and they show me all that, I can't argue with that."
Roberts said he can present those numbers to his pitcher, but even if they show that a hitter will hit a certain way 90 percent of the time, Kershaw said he doesn't want to be in that 10 percent.