New York Mets: It's Time To Abandon the Citi Field Argument
You know what I did yesterday? I wasted seven hours and a day off watching Mets baseball at Citi Field. That's right. I woke up early and took two trains just so I can sit and watch the Colorado Rockies pound the Mets into the ground in both games of a doubleheader.
Waste of money? Only $20.
Waste of time? Absolutely.
But I overheard a conversation between two of my fellow suckers, er, Mets fans, that caught my attention.
During the first game of the day, the Mets entered the ninth inning down 6-3. Scott Hairston finally showed some of the pop he had in spring training by hitting a two-run homer to left field to get the Mets within a run.
The Mets would then load the bases with two out for David Wright.
Citi Field was electric. I'd say there must have been dozens, literally DOZENS of fans screaming their heads off. Yeah, the place was packed.
Wright lifted a fly ball to right field that looked like it might have a chance to get out but fell onto the warning track, and the Mets had themselves a 6-5 loss.
I'll ignore the obvious opportunity to point out Wright's complete lack of clutch hits for a moment to continue with my point.
A Mets fan behind me says to another Mets fan, "Damn Citi Field. This place is killing us."
Now, I am of the opinion that Citi Field is killing the Mets power, but I wanted to find out just how much damage it was doing. I came home and looked up some numbers and I've come to a conclusion:
The "Citi Field Argument" has to come to an end.
There can be no more talk about how the Mets would be a better team if they didn't play in such a large park or how (insert Mets player here) would have better numbers in a different stadium.
Well, we'll start with just this season's numbers. It's a small sample size I know, but Mets pitching has allowed 10 home runs this season at Citi Field. The Mets themselves have hit five.
The Rockies came in and made Citi Field look like Great American Ballpark in four games. Troy Tulowitzki had a home run in each of the four games and none of them were cheap. He was crushing the ball on almost every pitch.
In all, the Rockies hit a total of seven home runs in the four-game series, including the four from Tulowitzki. Even Jonathan Herrera was able to collect just his second career home run with a line drive that found its way out via the right-field corner.
The Mets have of course hit home runs of their own at home this season. Carlos Beltran has two (both coming in the same game) and David Wright, Jose Reyes and Hairston each have one.
But the Mets have also surrendered home runs to the light-hitting duo of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals in a series in which the Mets dropped two of three.
So far this season, the Mets' opponents haven't had much of an issue with Citi Field. But what about the last two seasons?
In 2009, Citi Field's inaugural season, ESPN's Park Factor ranked it 12th in baseball for home runs, surrendering 1.057 per game. Anything over 1.000 favors the hitters. How could Citi Field ever favor a hitter you ask?
Well, the answer is both simple and ugly. Mets pitching allowed an unbelievable 81 home runs at home, while the Mets hit just 49.
Johan Santana was the biggest culprit that season. He allowed 12 home runs at home. Tim Redding was right behind him with 10. Additionally, the Mets had six different pitchers who allowed six or more home runs.
Now, it's worth nothing that the Mets had a majority of their best players, including Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright, on the DL that season, but if the visiting teams didn't have a problem getting the ball into souvenir city, the Mets should have been able to get a few of their own.
Only Daniel Murphy had more than five home runs at Citi Field that season.
Does the Citi Field Argument still hold water?
In 2010, the Mets were a little bit healthier and managed to find their power stroke. A great bounce-back season from Wright (10 home runs in 2009, 29 in 2010) certainly helped.
The Mets hit 63 home runs at Citi Field that season and allowed just 47. If the Mets are out-homering their opponents the season after getting completely dominated in the same department, there can't be any more Citi Field talk.
Does Citi Field cost hitters home runs? Of course it does. I like to think the Mets play in a major league ballpark, as opposed to some of the little league sized parks out there (I'm looking at you Citizens Bank Park).
In three years, the Mets have been out-homered by their opponents, 138-117, at Citi Field.
Jeff Francoeur called Citi Field "a damn joke" this past offseason. Good 'ol Franks and Beans hit .223 with five home runs in 202 at-bats at Citi Field in 2010.
Additionally, both David Wright and Jason Bay have mentioned Citi Field's dimensions as a negative. After crushing 36 home runs with the Boston Red Sox, Bay hit just three at Citi Field. But Bay's struggles last season are as much about his own adjustments to Citi Field than the stadium itself.
If you try to hit line drives, you're going to hit line drives. Bay also collected four of his six triples (tied for a career high) at Citi Field.
In yesterday's game, maybe Wright's fly ball goes for a home run with an extra foot or two of distance. Reyes banked one off the Pepsi Porch in the second game yesterday, and I think that's where Wright's would have gone as well.
But it wasn't to be. That's not because of Citi Field. It's just because baseball is a game of inches, and the Mets came a few inches short.
It's time to abandon the Citi Field Argument. The Mets have been out-homered by their opponents, and they've done the damage themselves in the two-plus seasons of Citi Field's existence. Just win the games and stop worrying about what could have been.
Citi Field might be a "damn joke," but it's our damn joke.
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