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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

New Safeco Field Outfield Wall Dimensions

We must begin here and now
A new continent of earth and fire
Come on now gettin higher and higher
Tear down the walls

The Mariners will move portions of the outfield wall at Safeco Field for the 2013 season. The changes, which will primarily affect the left field power alley, are the first to the field dimensions since the ballpark opened in 1999.

After several months of deliberation and analysis, input from former players as well as from current and past front office personnel and coaches, the decision was made to make the adjustments.

vortex of dissipation Posted: October 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ballparks, mariners

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   1. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4251498)
Hrmph. I've thought for a long time that baseball would be more fun to watch if everybody moved the fences back, oh, 20 feet or so.
   2. SteveF Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4251507)
It seems to me there would be a competitive advantage to playing your home games in a pitcher's park.
   3. Loren F. Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4251516)
Yes, it's been noted around here that the ideal is to have your home stadium be a slight pitcher's park. But there's pitcher's park and then there's a stadium that makes your power hitters hit the Prozac.
   4. SteveF Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4251523)
I wouldn't think there would be a limit. The fewer pitches thrown by your pitchers the better, in addition to the market value of the skills the park favors/disfavors (pitcher's parks favor cheaper skills).

The other side of the issue is the gate. Will fewer people watch that kind of baseball product?
   5. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: October 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4251588)
I don't know, did people show up to watch the Mariners ~10 years ago when they were winning?

(Hint: Yes.)
   6. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: October 02, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4251618)
"Another noticeable change will be in the left field corner. The hand-operated scoreboard will no longer be in play, and will be relocated to a new location above left field as part of seating modifications that will be announced at a later date."

Isn't there a bar area near where the scoreboard is right now?
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 02, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4251639)
Isn't there a bar area near where the scoreboard is right now?


The Bullpen Pub is directly behind it.
   8. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: October 02, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4251657)
The other side of the issue is the gate. Will fewer people watch that kind of baseball product?


I wouldn't think so, but presumably longer games do lead to more concession purchases maybe including merchandise?
   9. Dan Evensen Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:12 PM (#4251787)
My prediction is that the Mariners will give up a record number of home runs next year, on their way to a 100+ loss season.

Didn't the Kansas City Athletics try something similar in the early 1960s, with disastrous results?
   10. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:32 PM (#4251807)
Didn't the Kansas City Athletics try something similar in the early 1960s, with disastrous results?
I think--I may be mis-remembering this somewhat--that Charley Finley wanted to change the dimensions to the same as Yankee Stadium, but the league said no. So he painted a line in the outfield to indicate where the fence would have been, and had all balls over it announced as "That would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium!"
   11. The District Attorney Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4251816)
I think--I may be mis-remembering this somewhat--that Charley Finley wanted to change the dimensions to the same as Yankee Stadium, but the league said no. So he painted a line in the outfield to indicate where the fence would have been, and had all balls over it announced as "That would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium!"
Bill James, 1986 Abstract:
It is said that the practice of making this announcement came to an end in the eleventh inning on May 2, when the Minnesota Twins became the third team in baseball history to hit four consecutive home runs. It is said that following the home runs by Oliva, Allison, Hall, and Killebrew, Earl Battey drove the ball to the wall in left, and the announcer dutifully intoned "That ball... would have been a home run... in Yankee Stadium." The announcement was discontinued the next day.

Theoretically, as long as you know your team's park factor, it shouldn't hinder you any. If it's halving offense, you just double everyone's stats, right? But practically, it doesn't seem to work that way. Having a stadium where a 227/297/388 line (Casper Wells) is good for a 95 OPS+, is disorienting even when you intellectually know that it's the case. I think it will make life easier for the Mariner organization to have statlines for their players that can be evaluated at least relatively similarly to everyone else's statlines.
   12. Sweatpants Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4251863)
I think it will make life easier for the Mariner organization to have statlines for their players that can be evaluated at least relatively similarly to everyone else's statlines.
Their field didn't start having that effect until this season (actually, it was pretty extreme in 2010 also, but nowhere near that bad in any other season), so I don't see how it's the dimensions that are causing it. Whatever caused it (if anything did) this season would have to happen again for the park to be as extreme a pitcher's park next year.
   13. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 02, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4251984)
Their field didn't start having that effect until this season (actually, it was pretty extreme in 2010 also, but nowhere near that bad in any other season), so I don't see how it's the dimensions that are causing it. Whatever caused it (if anything did) this season would have to happen again for the park to be as extreme a pitcher's park next year.


Stuff like this and the Angels field playing so differently makes me wonder if Park Effects should be called Park Results. Looking at Anaheim, I don't believe anything has changed at the field in several years, and the newest park in the league is three years old. Is it likely the ballpark and its environs has suddenly begun seriously dampening offense, instead of the possibility that the Angels and their opponents have happened to pitch better (or, the flip side, hit worse) there than away from the Big A over the last few years.

Now, if you're simply using Park Effects to determine how much a run was worth there compared to other places, then it doesn't really matter whether the park is the cause of the run environment or merely an innocent bystander. But if you're treating the effects like the park itself is depressing/inflating offense (and, perhaps most important, is likely to continue to do so, which seems to be a common use for the figures), then you might be on less solid ground (even using three years over a single-season's worth of data).

   14. cardsfanboy Posted: October 03, 2012 at 12:44 AM (#4252019)
The AL West has three extreme pitchers park, two of which it seems to have recently become even more extreme. Is there any reason to think that there might be some type of math issue that is accentuating the issue?
   15. base ball chick Posted: October 03, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4252042)
i don't understand how a stadium's "park factor" can change if the stadium itself didn't change

especially if you are talking about a covered stadium. seems to me that if you have a team which has lousy, homerrific pitchers and homeriffic hitters, that the stadium is gonna be a hitters' park. and if you get rid of all those pitchers and get good pitchers the next year, and have crappy hitters, that same park is gonna be a pitchers' park.

how is this possible???? it's the same exact park

and i don't get why so many guys used to hit well at safeco and suddenly it is this extreme non-hitters park. the dimensions aren't that great.

   16. The District Attorney Posted: October 03, 2012 at 01:52 AM (#4252051)
seems to me that if you have a team which has lousy, homerrific pitchers and homeriffic hitters, that the stadium is gonna be a hitters' park. and if you get rid of all those pitchers and get good pitchers the next year, and have crappy hitters, that same park is gonna be a pitchers' park.
No, you figure out the park effect by comparing the team to itself home vs. road, not by comparing the team to the rest of the league.
   17. Dan from NM Posted: October 03, 2012 at 02:06 AM (#4252064)
No. 14, San Francisco has also played as an extreme pitchers' park this year. Perhaps a weather pattern?
   18. Tiboreau Posted: October 03, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4252075)
Safeco Field has always been death to right-handed pull-hitters. This isn't a new phenomenon. It may be more extreme this year, but the Home\Road splits for right-handed hitters have always been more pronounced than left-handed hitters due to a combination of park dimensions and atmospheric conditions. I mean take a look at Mike Cameron's H\R splits from 2000 to 2003. And while not as extreme the trend can also be seen from Adrian Beltre to Richie Sexson to Jose Lopez to Jesus Montero. Combine that with the lower run scoring environment & more extreme overall splits the past couple years with a poor offense and it finally created the impact that motivated the organization to tinker with the left field fences.

(I was going to look up and include various players' H\R splits--Raul Ibanez is supposedly an example of a left-handed hitter better suited to Safeco's dimensions--but I don't have PI or know a simple means to find such numbers during multiple years with a team. But here's Mike Cameron's 2000 - 2003 H\R splits, if calculated correctly. . . . )

H: 1208 PA .223/.327/.373
A: 1320 PA .286/.366/.514

Ah, I think I included SH in my PA totals. . . . Eh pues, I'd already given up on using stats to back up traditional wisdom anyway. . . . Who knows how this will affect Safeco's run environment next year, but considering that it was already unhealthy for RH hitters with a couple young ones in the team's plan (Montero, Zunino) it's worth a shot. Of course, it may haunt the pitchers--particularly its biggest benefactor, Jason Vargas--but most there staff are groundball pitchers and\or young flamethrowers. . . .
   19. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 03, 2012 at 03:38 AM (#4252086)
Of course, it may haunt the pitchers--particularly its biggest benefactor, Jason Vargas


To say the least. Vargas was second in the league in HR allowed, with 35, even pitching in Safeco. With the new dimensions, that will probably get even worse. He gave up nine HR at home in 14 starts, and 26 on the road in 19 starts. SLG against - .327 at home, .495 on the road.
   20. bfan Posted: October 03, 2012 at 07:26 AM (#4252124)
Of course, it may haunt the pitchers--particularly its biggest benefactor, Jason Vargas


Prince Felix hasn't done so bad with Safeco, either; 1 HR every 26 innings at home; 1 HR every 11 innings on the road.

I applaud this. I am going to assume that the Mariners front office have looked at FB patterns for their games, and would only do this if there is some benefit to them, or it is at least neutral. I think it saves/revives the career of Justin Smoak, who becomes a 30 HR hitter, and exposes some M's pitchers who have by virtue of their baseball park been viewed as stars, instead of merely good.
   21. Lassus Posted: October 03, 2012 at 07:51 AM (#4252129)
We all know how much moving in the walls helped the Mets this year.

   22. just plain joe Posted: October 03, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4252162)
i don't understand how a stadium's "park factor" can change if the stadium itself didn't change


I believe that park factor is computed with a formula that takes into consideration both runs scored/allowed at home and on the road. If a team scores/allows more runs on the road, and the numbers at home stay the same, then the park factor will change. I don't know if you have ever played any baseball sims such as DMB but for the years that the Browns and Cardinals both played in Sportsman's Park, the park factors for the two teams are nearly always different, sometimes by a considerable amount. This is due to the two leagues having different road stadia and different players.

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