I caught a few innings of the Mets home opener at their new ballpark on Monday night and the ESPN announcers couldn't stop talking about how much of a pitchers park CitiField will be. We have been talking about this on faketeams for a few months now, but no one knew for sure how the park will play. Well, last night we saw that it will, in fact, be a huge pitchers park.
David Wright hit a bomb to CF late in the game that I just assumed would tie the game, but Jody Gerut tracked it down on the warning track.
Marc Normandin from Baseball Prospectus had this to say about the ballpark:
Citi Field's dimensions are a dramatic shift from those of the Mets' former home, Shea Stadium. While there are a few spots in the park that are going to be better for hitters than in their former confines, most of the fences have been moved back in a way that is going to significantly decrease home runs for the Mets and their opponents.
He describes the changes as dramatic. I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it for myself.
Here's more based on analysis from Greg Rybarczyk over at HitTracker:
While the change in fence distance on its own is enough to suppress home runs, the fact the fences are so drastically different in size also will alter offense. Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker says one foot of height added to a fence is equivalent to 0.84 feet of distance. That means that a spot in right center at Citi Field that is 25 feet deeper than it was at Shea (383 feet), with an 18-foot-high fence thrown in, actually is equivalent to moving the wall back 33 feet from where it stood in Shea. It isn't just right field that sees changes this drastic, either, as heading from center to left field gives you fences that are roughly 8-10 feet deeper than at Shea with fences twice as high, meaning they are more like 15-17 feet farther from home, due to the change in height.
And Normandin closes with this about the Mets power hitters:
For someone like Carlos Delgado, who averaged over 411 feet on his homers last year, this isn't going to be an issue, though his bombs won't look like they are going as far any more. For David Wright, though, who hits many of his homers between the 350- and 400-foot range to left, we may see a spike in doubles production with fewer homers to that side, and maybe just a handful of shots to right. Carlos Beltran is another player who may suffer, as he averaged just under 400 feet on his homers last year, a number that isn't high enough to clear most of right center even without taking the higher fences into account. All of this open space should boost other extra-base hits, but it should be a lackluster year for home runs for the Mets.
We did see three HRs in the game, but 2 of the 3 went over the shorter RF wall, while Wright's went over the 374 sign in LF. Orel Hershiser stated late in the game that he had not seen, during batting practice and in the game, any ball clear the wall between left-center field and right-center field.
I am curious how long before we hear talk of moving the fences in at CitiField.