Photo by Jordan Gibbons
BY JORDAN GIBBONS
The New York Mets are expecting to hit more home runs in 2015, but not just by adding more power to the lineup.
For the second time since Citi Field opened in 2009, the Mets are moving the fences in to make their home ballpark friendlier to hitters.
On Tuesday, General Manager Sandy Alderson took reporters on a tour of the new dimensions that he said will “take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation so it’s not something that’s discussed in the clubhouse.”
The right-center field wall, which used to extend as far out as 390 feet from home plate, will now be about 380 feet. From the left corner of the Mo Zone in right field to straight away center field, the changes will range from three to 11 feet.
Alderson said that the Mets calculated that if the field had these dimensions last year, there would have been 27 more home runs in the ballpark. The Mets would have hit 17 more and their opponents 10. Left-handed hitters would have hit 14 of those 17.
“A lot of analysis went into this decision,” he said. “We believe these modifications will increase the number of home runs without adversely affecting our pitchers.”
Since the Mets current roster is lined up to be supported by its strong pitching staff, there is concern that the new outfield will make it harder on the team’s young pitchers.
But Alderson said that it should not have a negative effect on the pitchers, since their pitching staff has a high rate of strikeouts and ground balls and he will continue to look for additional pitchers with those skills to mitigate the effect on the staff.
Now, Citi Field’s outfield depth will look very similar to their old home, Shea Stadium, give or take a couple feet.
The ballplayers who should benefit most from the changes are left-handed hitting Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda and right-handed hitting David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud, who tend to hit with more power to right-center field.
“If you look at the analysis we did last year, primarily our left-handed hitters will benefit from this,” he said. “But at the same time, it could change the mindset for a lot of our right-handed hitters too so that they’re not thinking pull all the time.”
Overall, Alderson said that he expects the new dimensions to be a positive for the team and the fans going forward.
“A few more home runs for us wouldn’t be a bad thing,” he said. “A little more scoring is something that I think most fans enjoy; not all.”
The news was the latest in Mets headlines early in the offseason. Last week, the Mets made a splash by completing the first significant free agent signing with veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who has been friends with David Wright since they both grew up in Norfolk, Va.
On the same day as the Cuddyer signing, Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom was named the National League Rookie of the Year after dazzling fans with his long hair, 9-6 record, 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 22 games.
Alderson’s offseason is long from over though, as the Mets still need to find a reliable shortstop and another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, if the team intends to make a legitimate run at their first playoff appearance since 2006.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, email@example.com or @jgibbons2.