Well, maybe, but my own view of this matter is that the shift is a red herring. As a factual matter, this is bolstered by the fact that Teixeira actually hit fewer ground balls from the left side of the plate, which is the only time the shift is really relevant. Believe it or not, Tex’s fly ball rate was 5.5% higher against right-handers than against southpaws at 48.3%. Unfortunately, his infield flyball rate was also slightly higher at 11.8%, which begins to help us explain where his BABIP issues stem from. After that, the next most obvious issue in Tex’s batted ball data is that his HR/FB rate over 5 points lower from the left side as well. So what we have here is fewer home runs and more pop-ups per fly ball hit relative to his performance from the other side of the plate, even though more fly balls were being hit. I believe we might be on our way to nutting this out.
Conceptually, there are two reasons why the idea of having Tex bunt to beat the shift is foolish on its face. First of all, it doesn’t really beat the shift. Sure, if he can lay a bunt past the pitcher down the third base line he’s got a free pass to first base, but if you’re the opposing team’s manager, are you really that broken up about giving up the base runner if it means that one your opponent’s biggest sluggers is squaring around to bunt, putting the ball onthe ground deliberately and not looking for an extra base hit? I’d certainly take that trade off every time, especially given the fact that there’s not even a guarantee that the hitter successfully executes the bunt in the first place. This basic fact, I would imagine, is why you don’t actually see very many sluggers bunting against the shift even though so many reporters and fans think it the obvious thing to do.
Secondly, and more importantly, Tex’s problem simply isn’t the shift qua shift, it’s that he’s become a conscious pull hitter from the left side of the plate, and that approach is affecting his ability to make solid contact when pitchers pitch him away. If that were squared away, and Tex was driving the ball more consistently from the left side, whether or not the shift is put on against him would be neither here nor there. It might shave a few points off of his BABIP to hit ground balls into the shift but, frankly, the other team has already scored half a victory if they’ve gotten one of your power hitters to put the ball on the ground. Adjusting a power hitters game to get a few more base hits out of his ground balls is the epitome of missing the forest for the trees. Rather, the important thing to focus on is keeping Tex back longer so that he can cover the outer half of the plate effectively. A few more opposite field extra base hits will more than cancel out a few extra ground balls hit into the shift