A recent comment about Akiyama suggested MLB’s extreme shifts could be trouble for him.
“Akiyama will have to adjust to more shifts in MLB. He’ll have to prove he can beat them.”
It’s true that shifts in NPB are pretty tame, there’s a reason for that: Japanese kids learn from an early age to go to hit the ball back up the middle or — especially fast left-handed hitters — hit it to the opposite field. It’s a huge difference between NPB and MLB.
And like most speedy left-handed hitters, Akiyama is adept at shooting the ball between third and short. You could shift on him a little and it might help, but too much and he’ll kill you.
The only team that tries extreme shifts here now is the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters. In one game they over-shifted to the right against left-handed hitting Tomoya Mori. In response, the slugging Lions catcher poked the ball on the ground into left, and expressed his thanks to the Fighters for giving him a freebie.