The game of baseball has long been called America’s pastime. Many fans go to stadiums to enjoy the ambiance and scenery of baseball rather than the actual game itself. Interest in baseball has plummeted in recent generations, prompting MLB to implement changes to quicken the pace of the sport.

The game’s evolution is paramount to current MLB leaders. Adding a rule next season that bans the infield shift will be a huge plus for contact hitters because singles and ground ball hits will come much more easily. Additionally, power hitters who are used to pulling the ball will have more room to get the ball through the outfield.

Here are a few players who will benefit immensely from the series of rule changes set to be implemented next season.

Joey Gallo

The former Texas Rangers power hitter has been struggling mightily this season. Gallo began the season with the New York Yankees and was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trade deadline. Those are two big-market organizations, leading some to believe Gallo was buckling under extra pressure. However, the main reason for his struggles is the infield’s ever-common shift to the right when he comes up to bat.  

The ball still tends to find the glove of the infielders, which drastically drops Gallo’s batting average. Batting against a traditional infield alignment will be a welcome sight for Gallo, instantly juicing his numbers. A free agent at season’s end, Gallo’s value could be low on the open market. Don’t be surprised if his next contract proves a steal as Gallo takes full advantage of shifts being eradicated.

Corey Seager

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From a current LA Dodger to a former LA Dodger, Seager is another star who will benefit from the ban on infield shifts starting next year. A whopping 92.5% of Seager’s plate appearances have come against a shift this season, so it is inevitable that his contact and efficiency will rise going forward. 

Seager has lost 50 total hits since 2020 due to the positioning of opponents, according to Taylor Bechtold of The Analyst. Imagine if he added 50 hits to his batting average, Seager would have easily batted over .300 and become more of a lethal threat in the heart of the order. The second lefty mentioned in this piece would be delighted with the new rule change beginning next season.

Freddie Freeman

One of the best first basemen in MLB, Freeman is another player who loves pulling the ball toward the right side of the infield. There is no questioning his phenomenal track record, but he’s still lost a significant amount of production during his career to defensive shifts. 

Before this season, Freeman had the worst batting average (.139) of any lefty hitter in baseball on pulled grounders, per John Laghezza of The Athletic. The 2020 NL MVP and a 2022 MVP candidate, Freeman’s numbers may increase astronomically in the last few years of his prime, leading the Dodgers to even more success.

Many traditionalists veer away from altering the rules of a sport that has been in existence for over 100 years. But the numbers suggest that other sports have overtaken baseball in terms of viewership and popularity, so it is vital for the league to adjust. Firmly behind the NFL and NBA in North America, MLB still has a long way to go, but quickening the pace of play and tinkering with the details could be what finally gives baseball a much-needed jolt of popularity.