If chicks (and the average baseball fan) dig the long ball, then New York Mets' 3-year-old stadium, Citi Field, is not doing too much for the organization's ticket sales. Over the past three years, Citi Field has been in the bottom third of the league in ESPN's park factor runs, which compares the rate of stats at home versus the rate of stats on the road. This year, Citi Field has also allowed the third-fewest park factor home runs at 0.729. According to ESPN, Citi Field has allowed 1.32 home runs per game over the past three seasons, which surpasses only two stadiums in baseball. However way you slice it, the Mets' ballpark has been very tough on hitters.
Tuesday, general manager Sandy Alderson spoke of the studies going on to the effects of the dimension changes on the field, and conceded that it's a very real possibility that alterations -- which will not be "subtle" -- will be made in favor of the hitters.
"We're taking a very serious look at it, and done some analyses, and I would think sometime in October we'll make a decision as to exactly what we're going to do," Alderson said as quoted by ESPN NY's Adam Rubin.
Citi Field has certainly been a boon to pitchers -- especially fly-ball ones. But it's sapped the power out of many hitters, most noticeably David Wright, who had 10 home runs (five/five) the first year the stadium opened, then 12 of his 29 home runs at home this past season and five his 14 home runs this season at home. The difference may not seem that drastic, but hitters on this team -- and Wright specifically -- have changed their approach in order to hit in Citi Field. For Wright, it's changed his swing so much that it's gotten into his head -- and he's brought these problems into more stadiums than just the one in Flushing.
Alderson said the first alteration that would occur would be reducing the size of the 16-foot wall in left field -- whether it's brought in or left at the same distance. Rubin also noted that other changes could be to move the right-field fence in of the area that's currently the "Mo. Zone."
"We're not looking for an advantage with respect to home runs versus visitors' home runs," Alderson said. "At the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there as opposed to a team that comes in for three games and doesn't really have to alter an approach or think about it too much and leaves.
Alderson brought up some very telling statistics, which speaks to how much the team has been looking into the way this ballpark stifles offense. He said that 1.9 percent of balls in play are homers at Citi Field, while that rate is 2.5 percent across baseball. The new Yankee Stadium allows home runs at a rate of 3.6 percent, according to the ESPN article.
Even though the GM probably enjoys the old-school, low-scoring games of yesteryear where pitchers dominated, he recognizes, after all, that fans want to see offense.
"To some extent it's a question of entertainment," Alderson said. "The hardcore baseball fan enjoys the 2-1, the 3-2 (score). We're appealing to a little broader segment. I think offense is appealing. Offense sells."