Saturday, September 14, 2013

There's A Dimensional Problem At Citi Field

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When Citi Field first opened in 2009, the baseball cognoscenti deemed it a pitchers' park.  With the high walls in left field and the deep power alleys (it was 415 feet to one spot just to the right of straightaway center field), fly ball pitchers would not have to worry about opposing hitters taking them deep as often as they would at various other ballparks around the league.

But after two seasons of the pitcher-friendly dimensions, it was decided by the Mets' brass that the heights of the walls should be lowered and those walls should also be moved closer to home plate.  The Mets had averaged 56 home runs per season in 2009 and 2010 and the team felt the more fair dimensions would help its players produce more long balls.  Since the walls were moved in, they've certainly seen more balls leave the yard.  They're just seeing them come off their opponents' bats.

Let's look at the home run production by the Mets and their opponents compiled over the last two seasons of Citi Field's old dimensions and compare that to the power production for the first two seasons of the new, more fair dimensions of the park.

Mets HR (Citi Field)
Mets HR (Road)
Opponents HR (Citi Field)
Opponents HR (Road)

During the last two seasons of the old dimensions (2010 and 2011), both the Mets and their opponents hit more home runs away from Citi Field than they did in Flushing.  In fact, Mets pitchers allowed 70 more home on the road than they did at Citi Field in 2010 and 2011.  But once the fences were lowered and moved in, the opposition took full advantage of the change while Mets' hitters barely noticed the dimensional differences.

In 2010 and 2011, the Mets hit 12 more home runs on the road than they did at home.  In the two years since the dimensional switch at Citi Field, the difference in home runs on the road versus home runs at home has actually increased to 15, meaning the Mets' home run production has remained virtually unchanged since the walls were lowered and moved in.  That's not the case with the Mets' opponents.

After holding opponents to 105 home runs at Citi Field in 2010 and 2011, Mets' pitchers have allowed a whopping 170 homers in Flushing in 2012 and 2013.  Meanwhile, they've only given up 135 home runs on the road over the same time period.

Jonathon Niese, who has pitched at Citi Field under both dimensional conditions, allowed 15 home runs at Citi Field in 2010 and 2011.  He coughed up 19 gopher balls on the road during that time.  Since the fences were moved in, Niese has allowed 18 long balls at Citi Field and 14 on the road.

Dillon Gee allowed two more home runs on the road than he did at home in 2010 and 2011.  As soon as the dimensions were changed in 2012, he allowed ten homers at Citi Field compared to only two on the road.

Clearly, the change in dimensions was made to help the Mets score more runs via the long ball.  But all it has done so far is make opposing hitters salivate every time they come to the plate.  After allowing 70 more home runs on the road than at home in 2010 and 2011, Mets' pitchers have given up 35 fewer homers away from Citi Field than they have in their home ballpark.  That's an alarming difference.

The Mets need to improve their offense in 2014.  They also need their pitchers to stay healthy next season.  But perhaps they should also reconsider what they thought was a good plan going into the 2012 campaign.  The new dimensions have only been advantageous to hitters wearing road grays.

No comments: