Michael Z, a reader of MetsBlog:
Despite moving and lowering the outfield walls at Citi Field, the home run numbers did not increase dramatically and the ballpark is still viewed as an incredibly tough place to hit. Can and should the Mets consider bringing the fences in an additional five feet or so?
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
This is a tough question to answer because we’ve had only two seasons of play since the dimensions were changed and the team has undergone a lot of personnel changes in that time. We should probably give it some more time before making significant alterations, but let’s take a look at some numbers anyway, with the caveat that we’re dealing with relatively small samples…
From 2009-2011 (“Old Citi”), the Mets averaged a home run at home every 57 plate appearances. From 2012-2013, they averaged a home run at home every 48 plate appearances – an increase of 16 percent. How much of that is due to having different players? It’s hard to say, but it’s also clear that they did increase their home run output.
On the flip side, we have Mets pitching. In “Old Citi,” Mets pitchers allowed a home run every 54 plate appearances, while in “New Citi” they allowed a home run every 35 plate appearances – almost a 35 percent increase. This is stronger evidence to suggest that the dimensions are having a real impact, though again it’s impossible to determine just how big that impact is compared to the other factors that are in play.
I think the Mets would do well to be patient here, focus on developing pitchers and acquiring line drive hitters that will benefit from the big gaps. Citi Field is far from the most extreme pitchers park out there and before making further changes, we need to address the real concern: better players.