Citi Field is a pitcher’s park. It has been since it opened three years ago replacing worn out Shea Stadium.
In 2011, Citi Field allowed 1.33 home runs per game, thus ranking it 14th among the 16 National League parks. Only Petco Park (San Diego) and AT&T Park (San Francisco) allowed less home runs per game at 1.23 and 1.00 respectively. But, that may have been more about the anemic power that the Padres and Giants had than the ballpark home run index of the two parks.
In an effort to make Citi Field more hitter friendly, the Mets plan to move the fences in for the 2012 season. The most dramatic change will be in right-center where the dimensions will go from 415 feet to 390 feet. It’s probably no coincidence that David Wright’s swing naturally drives the ball toward that part of the ballpark, and that Wright’s dip in home runs since Shea Stadium closed has been the biggest argument for shrinking Citi Field. Wright has hit 22 home runs at home and 31 on the road in the three years since the new ballpark opened. Wright never got on track in 2011, hitting .255 with 14 homers, 13 steals, 61 RBIs and 60 runs scored in 389 at-bats in an injury plagued season.
Kerel Cooper, publisher of On The Black, a site that reports on the New York Mets, agrees that Wright will benefit from the change the most, but Cooper also thinks that the park dimensions will help Jason Bay.
“We’ve seen Jason Bay struggle really bad for two years now with the Mets now,” said Cooper. “Some seem to think that the size of the park is playing on Jason Bay’s mind. We’ll see if the move has a positive affect on Jason Bay’s psyche.”
Mets outfielder Jason Bay completed a second disappointing season in 2011 in the Big Apple by hitting .246 with 12 homers, 11 steals, 57 RBIs and 59 runs scored in 2011. Bay has dealt with injuries the past two seasons. A .313 average in September gives the 33-year-old some hope for 2012.
The Mets will also be shortening the distance in left field by building a new eight-foot fence in front of the imposing 16-foot wall that has been in place the last three years. The 16-foot fence will remain, but seats will be added between the two walls as part of this offseason’s renovations.
In addition to the anticipated increase in power numbers from Wright, attendance is another reason for the change in New York. Let’s face it, fans like to see home runs, at least if the players aren’t juicing. The Mets have experienced three straight seasons of declining attendance since Citi Field opened. Not even David Wright’s inclusion on Fantasy Baseball Dugout’s Baseball’s Sexiest Players list could bring in more (female) fans.
We also asked Cooper if there was a pitcher that may be hurt by the move.
“As far as a pitcher it will hurt, I don’t think there is a clear cut guy on the Mets staff this will have a huge impact on,” said Cooper. “None of the current guys are extreme fly ball pitchers.”
One thing everybody seems to agree on, however, is that for the New York Mets, moving the fences in is THE WRIGHT THING TO DO.
2012 Fantasy Baseball Outlook — David Wright: David Wright will benefit the most since his power is to right-center. There is significant upside to Wright for 2012, but don’t expect him to go unnoticed in your draft since he does have a national reputation as a star. If healthy, Wright should be a 30 home run guy and hit .300 as he did for five consecutive seasons ending in 2009.
2012 Fantasy Baseball Outlook — Jason Bay: Jason Bay is another player that could benefit from the fence move at Citi Field. Given Bay’s last two seasons, it’s hard to imagine that he hit 36 homers for the Red Sox in 2009 and drove in 119! As an outfielder, he’s a riskier pick than Wright, but you have to believe that the 33-year-old still has more left in him than the combined 18 dingers that he has hit in the past two seasons for the Mets.