According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Miami Marlins have announced the changes that will be made to the outfield walls in 2016. Marlins Park has played as one of the biggest parks in baseball since its inception in 2012 and the team is adjusting the dimensions in an effort to become more friendly for offense.
The changes include both a reduction in wall height and length. In particular, the massive center field wall is being moved in about 11 feet, from 418 to 407. The new wall will also be lowered in height, and extend out to the right field bullpen, ending about 392 feet from home plate. The walls will also be lowered in left and right field. Here is a good look at how high the walls were:
Marlins president David Samson also mentioned the psychological effect on hitters, which is something I noticed first hand with the Mets and the original massive Citi Field dimensions. The park was so large that David Wright had to alter his approach at the plate. The new dimensions will not only allow more fly balls to land over fences, but may have a positive effect beyond the measurable.
I had Giancarlo Stanton and Hanley Ramirez back in 2012 in a keeper league, and I remember watching opening night attentively to see how the new ballpark would play. I was shocked at how enormous it played; if I remember correctly, Stanton had two or three 400+ foot outs to center field that didn't even come close to going out. I also remember Lance Berkman, who was playing against the Marlins that night, shedding light on how massive the park was. I dug up some quotes from that night; from Hardball Talk:
Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman predicted to reporters Wednesday that hitting a home run at Marlins Park is so difficult that one day soon they will have to shorten the distance to the fences.
"If they don’t move the fences in after this year, I’d be surprised," Berkman said after the Cardinals spoiled the Marlins’ ballpark unveiling by handing them a 4-1 loss. "And I’m going two years as the over-under on that."
No park is large enough to hold Giancarlo Stanton if he gets all of the ball, but the new walls will give a better chance for Stanton to add some dingers on fly balls that he doesn't quite square up fully. Stanton will be a legitimate 50 home run threat if he can stay healthy all season.
Currently, Steamer projections pegs Stanton at 44 ding dong Johnson's for next year in 146 games played, the highest home run projection given out by Steamer.