Guest Post: Should Ballparks Move in Outfield Walls?

I love being able to having different voices on this blog. It enhances what we are trying to do, to give interesting takes on sports and entertainment. Rebecca Wilcox is the latest person to guest blog on our site. Her take on major league ballparks is an opinion that we both share.

She takes aim at PETCO Park, the new Marlins’ stadium, and Comerica Park. She points out how a team could benefit and gives statistics to back up her opinion.

I know you will enjoy her take. Do you agree with her opinion? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Over the past few years there have been several new Major League Baseball ballparks constructed and opened. The New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins have all opened new stadiums in the past few seasons. Some of these new stadiums have come under scrutiny due to how far from home plate the outfield fences were built. Some, however, have gained reputations as too home run friendly.

Ballparks, such as Comerica Park in Detroit, have shortened the fences, while others, such as Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia have lengthened theirs. Are Major league Baseball park fences not friendly to theHomeRun Monkey? If Giancarlo Stanton has his way, Marlins Park’s outfield fences would be moved in. “Balls that you feel should go out are barely scraping by,” Stanton told ESPN. Yet there has been only a slight decrease in home runs per game from the old stadium, 1.56 in 2011, to the new stadium, 1.24 through May 1, 2012.

Weather could have just as much a factor as the warmer more humid summer months tend to help balls travel further. Another notoriously difficult park for the HomeRun Monkey is PETCO Park in San Diego. With some of the deepest fences in MLB, PETCO Park has averaged at or near the bottom of MLB in home runs hit per game for four years running and in 2012 PETCO has by far the lowest count, averaging only one home run per game played in the stadium.

However another recently built stadium has seen a sharp rise in home runs, the new Yankee Stadium. In 2008, the last year the Yankees played in old Yankee Stadium, hitters averaged 1.98 home runs per game. That average leapt by almost a full point, to 2.93, in the first year of operations at new Yankee Stadium. So far this year Yankee Stadium is by far the most home run hitter friendly park with an average of 2.95 dingers per game. It seems to stand to reason that shorter fences make for more home runs.

The top ten stadiums with the shortest fence dimensions in right and left fields are among the top 15 stadiums each year in home runs per game. However, other factors do contribute to those numbers. Indoor versus outdoor stadium, number of power hitters on the home team, number of slowpitch pitchers versus fireballers faced are all factors that need to be considered. However, empirical evidence certainly seems to support Mr. Stanton’s position.

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