Baseball Debates: A new series of posts that raise debatable questions about the wide world of baseball. Each post will pose a question, argue both sides of the debate and then let you, the reader, have the final say. Let’s get to it!
Welcome to the first installment of Baseball Debates. Up this week is an intriguing debate that has been brought up a few times since the opening of Target Field and subsequently turned down by the organization, most recently after the 2012 season. Even though many Minnesota Twins hitters have complained that their well-hit, home run bound balls fall short for outs, the fences remain where they were built in 2010. So now Puckett’s Pond is asking, Should the Fences at Target Field be Moved In? As the lone surviving Metrodome hitter, Joe Mauer and his career stats will be helping with this debate.
· More Offense and Power. Take a look at Joe Mauer’s Career Slugging Percentage at Home. Although the Left and Left-Center Field fences are closer at Target Field than they were at the Metrodome, Mauer’s SLG is a good amount lower hitting outside. Mauer’s swing is built for opposite field power so the fences should play to the strength of our All-Star/MVP Caliber player. In 2009, Mauer hit 16 of his 28 HRs at the Metrodome, good for 57% of his bombs coming at home (with 62.5% of his home HRs going to the Left side of field). Since 2010, Mauer has hit 10 of his 33 HRs at Target Field, good for only 30% at home (with 70% of the home HRs going to Left). Mauer still hits most of his dingers to Left Center but now more of his shots are staying in the ballpark.
Target Field (2010-2013)
- Shorter fences leads to more HRs, especially for Lefties since Target Field and its wind patterns definitely favors right-handed hitters.
- More HRs leads to more Fan Excitement and better chances for Victory.
- The fences in Left Field could be moved up enough to create a new row of premium, front row seats. More Seats = More Money.
- Any fences that are moved in to aid Twins hitters will equally help opposing hitters. This is especially important because the Twins solid, not stellar, starting rotation will find success easier in 2014 by keeping the ball in the ballpark. Case in point, Target Field is supposed to turn around Phil Hughes after he struggled with giving up too many home runs in the smaller Yankee Stadium. As an extreme fly ball pitcher, Hughes needs the fences at Target Field to stay where they are.
- Bringing in the fences would cut down on the doubles gap. While Target Field strongly favored the pitcher in 2013 when it came to homeruns, ranking 27th out of 30 stadiums (.802 Park Factor), it actually strongly favored hitters for doubles, tying it for 5th in the league with Coors Field (1.117 Park Factor). Although a double doesn’t ensure the hitter will score (unlike a HR), it’s still way better than an out or even a single.
- Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton’s eventual right-handed power in Target Field will more than satisfy fans’ desire for homeruns while still protecting our pitchers with the original outfield fences.
Now it’s your turn to vote! Leave a comment to support your decision or to let me know if I missed any important pros or cons!