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When Citi Field opened in 2009, no one knew how the field would play. Much to the dismay of Mets power hitters, the cavernous Citi Field took away a lot of home runs. A very unique stadium, visiting teams find the place difficult to play in because of its huge dimensions, high walls, and tricky caroms off the angled outfield fences.
It took the Mets a while to get accustomed to their home field, but now that they are familiar with how the stadium plays, they need to use it to their advantage.
New York must make Citi Field a true home field advantage. Players need to stop trying to hit home runs every time up at-bat, and instead aim for the large gaps in right and left-center field.
It is all about speed when playing in Flushing, so the Mets need to steal bases when on base, forcing pitchers to throw fastballs.
The park is a doubles and triples haven which plays to the Mets strengths. Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran need to use their speed in order to hit doubles and triples.
Defense is also a big part of playing at Citi Field. Outfielders have to cover a lot of space and recognize the bounces off the walls. Many defensively challenged teams such as the Marlins and Braves have a tough time dealing with these sorts of things, but, when healthy, the Mets have a talented defensive outfield of Pagan, Beltran, and Bay.
Pitching in Citi Field is another key to how the team does this season. There is no cheap home run when a player hits one out this stadium. Mets pitchers need to recognize this and challenge hitters to swing. Fly ball pitchers like Chris Young and Jon Niese need to pitch to contact and let Citi Field do the rest. Walks are unacceptable here, so Mets pitchers need to be aggressive.
Building a team around a ballpark is very common these days. The Minnesota Twins field a good pitching and defensive team in a big stadium, much like the Padres and Giants. The Mets need to do the same and they will enjoy similar success.