Hitter's Paradise: Why Marlins' Batting Practice at New Stadium Reveals Flaw
We are still a little over a year away from the Florida Marlins entering their new stadium; however, noteworthy is their recent trip which involved members of the Marlins brass (Jeffrey Loria and David Samson) and players Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton who took the unofficial first batting practice at the new stadium while being on hand for the first seat installation.
Now it was just batting practice, but a few home runs throughout the process may have forecasted a potential flaw with the plans of the stadium. Of note: a few baseballs came close to leaving the stadium, specifically one hit by Mike Stanton which cleared the stadium by essentially shooting through the invisible glass panels in left field and exiting the building.
Even Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria felt worried his "Pitcher Park" would end up being something else, perhaps being a repeat of what happened to the Yankees in their first season at Yankee Stadium.
“Some of those fly balls—I’m not sure this is a pitcher’s ballpark anymore,” Loria said. "The building is gorgeous.”
Let's examine the future home of the Marlins and current one for a second, shall we? Sun Life Stadium, while mostly considered a pitcher's park is really a neutral park.
According to ESPN's Park Factor, which measures a stadium's ability to be a hitters paradise or a pitcher's park, the Marlins' Sun Life Stadium ranked 10th in runs scored but 24th in home runs per game with 0.822.
In terms of dimensions, the Marlins new stadium will be 10 feet further in left field (340 feet), 23 feet further in left center (384), 12 feet further in center (416 feet), 17 feet further in right center (392 feet), and 10 feet less in right field (335 feet).
Nevertheless, dimensions aren't the full cause of a stadium's ability to be hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly. The Marlins haven't truly played baseball in South Florida indoors, so only time will tell how playing indoors and outdoors in the stadium will effect playing conditions come 2012.
Last season the Minnesota Twins opened their new stadium, Target Field, and ranked last of all 30 Major league ballparks in home runs per game, with 0.641 per game. Target Field's dimensions are a bit closer to home plate than the Marlins' new ballpark, but again, only time will tell whether the Marlins' new stadium is truly a hitter's or pitchers paradise in South Beach.
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