MLB Ballparks: 9 Shortest Porches in Major League Baseball
Baseball is a unique game because it is the only professional sport where the dimensions of the field of play can vary based on whoever the home team is.
As a result, organizations can build their team around the strengths and weaknesses of their park.
For example, the San Diego Padres have consistently built their teams the past few years with a rotation of fly-ball pitchers and a lineup of strong defenders in order to compensate for the home run suppressing ways of Petco Park.
The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers, whose parks support a bevy of long-balls, have recruited power hitters and ground-ball pitchers to maximize the effects of their dimensions.
There are a lot of factors that go into the flight distance of a baseball. The primary ones are pitch speed and bat speed.
But the thin air in Colorado leads to balls being hit further. Swirling winds in Chicago can encourage or suppress home runs depending on the day. And the steady atmosphere of a domed stadium allows the Toronto Blue Jays to tee off at the Rogers Centre.
What follows is a list of the nine parks in baseball whose environments encourage home runs based on small dimensions, or relatively small dimensions when other factors are considered.
Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays
Certainly not the prettiest ballpark in the major leagues, Tropicana Field is one of the strangest stadiums in professional sports.
Already outdated after it was built, the Trop has been widely criticized throughout baseball for its strange features, including its white roof which makes it almost impossible to see popups.
The dome also boasts some of the shortest distances down the line in the major leagues; the left field corner sits just 315 feet from home plate, and the right field corner just 320.
The wall rounds to around 370 in the power alleys, meaning that only dead-pull hitters gain a power advantage in the Trop.
The building in St. Petersburg may have shown poor results for home run park factor in the past few years, but its fences down the line are surely among the shortest in baseball.
AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park in San Francisco is actually one of the more well known pitchers' parks in baseball.
With the exception of Pesky Pole in Fenway Park's right field, the Giants' right field foul pole, which overlooks McCovey Cove, sits just 309 feet away from home plate.
The short distance is accommodated for by a 25-foot wall. Additionally, the right center field alley stretches to a distance of 421 feet, the furthest in baseball by 31 feet.
The San Francisco Bay behind right field at AT&T park is one of the most picturesque scenes in all of baseball.
Kudos to the Giants for shortening up that wall so that more balls could fly into the water.
Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds
On paper, Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark appears to be a standard issue cookie cutter park with short dimensions.
For each corner and power alley, the stadium's dimensions fall within the top ten shortest distances in the major leagues.
It's surprising then, that the ballpark would have a much higher home run factor for right field than left; though both are way above average.
Perhaps its because the fences are just a few feet closer, or a few feet shorter. Or, it could even be that the Reds have predominantly had left-handed pull power the past few years.
Whatever the case, the Great American Ballpark is one of the best offensive environments in professional baseball.
Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros
Although the left field wall at Minute Maid park in Houston is just 315 feet away and 19 feet high, its power alley in left center field stretches to 404 feet; the longest in baseball.
Right field at Minute Maid is much more standard, stretching to 326 down the line and 373 in the power alley.
The wall is just seven feet high, however, meaning balls have to be hit only just as far as they would to left to leave.
With a flagpole and hill in center field stretching to an MLB-long 436 feet, the park boasts the most unique outfield alignment in baseball.
Because of the hot temperatures in Houston, Minute Maid park plays as a consistently top 10 environment for hitters.
Dead-pull hitters can absolutely feast and pad their home run totals.
Citizen Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies
In the first two years of its existence in 2004 and 2005, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia became known as the new offensive bandbox in the National League.
As a result, the left field fence was moved back five feet before the 2006 season.
Although its fences in the corners now stretch to around 330 feet, Citizens Bank Park now has the shortest power alleys in baseball with the exception of Fenway.
Left center field is 355 feet away from home plate, and right field is just 357 feet.
As a result, the ballpark plays small all the way around and strongly encourages extra-base knocks.
Although Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard has clobbered a lot of home runs throughout his career, don't blame his output on being Citizens Bank aided.
In fact, Howard owns three fewer home runs at home in his career than he does on the road.
The Phillies' ballpark encourages offense, but it doesn't seem to be doing a severe injustice to anyone's numbers.
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox
As Kenny Williams has added more power to his lineup in the recent years, people have begun to take notice that U.S. Cellular Field, formerly known as Comiskey Park, tends to have a lot of homer highlights on SportsCenter.
In fact, The Cell had a higher home run factor (and more home runs hit at it) than any other park in baseball last season.
This shouldn't really be a surprise since the White Sox have paced the league in homers before. Additionally, the Cell has been in the top five for home run factor every year since 2003.
There is nothing special about the ballpark's dimensions; it is an entirely cookie-cutter 335-375-400-375-330 around the outfield. The fences are all eight feet high.
The ball just seems to fly a little further here for some reason.
The result has been perhaps baseball's most homer happy park (non-Coors) over the last decade.
A lineup filled with Adam Dunn, Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios could do a lot of damage in 2011.
Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park opened in 1912 and remains the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use.
The park has the shortest distance of any field in baseball to left field (310 feet) or right field (302 feet).
In left field and left center field stands the Green Monster, at 37' 2" tall. The Monster is an imposing presence and serves as a haven for cheap doubles and home runs for pull-happy righties or opposite field hitting lefties.
Though eight feet shorter, the right field wall is much more difficult to get the ball to. A right-handed hitter has to hit the ball almost directly down the line to sneak it over the wall in the corner.
Fenway's right field rounds off sharply and juts out to 380 feet in right center field. The Green Monster only angles out to 335 feet.
Fenway Park doesn't play as a particularly advantageous place for home run hitters. It is actually below average.
Instead, it serves an an environment that encourages doubles. Fenway had the highest park factor for doubles every year from 2003 to 2009, and was second best in 2010.
This is an offensive environment, but not necessarily because of the long-ball.
Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
The dimensions at Coors Field aren't anything to write home about. In fact, the fence distances are some of the longest in baseball all around the outfield.
But by playing baseball in the thin air of the mile high city of Colorado, the ball tends to travel much further than it would under normal conditions at another park.
As a result, balls fly further at Coors Field.
Before a humidor was introduced to restrict the flight on balls hit at Coors, the building was easily the most homer happy place in baseball.
Through long-balls are still aplenty (the park finished in the top five for home run factor three of the past four years), they've definitely been cut back by the humidor.
Coors is a launching pad all around, but balls really take off in the right field power alley.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will enjoy spending his career benefiting from the Coors Field power boost.
Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees
There is no more famous short porch in baseball than right field at Yankee Stadium.
The House That Ruth Built, the old ballpark, gained a lot of notoriety as a launching pad for left-handed hitters during the 1961 season.
Teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle made use of the short porch in right constantly as they chased down Babe Ruth's single-season home-run record.
Since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, the updated building has played like an extreme hitters park. The stadium finished first for home run factor in 2009, and third in 2010.
Because of the position the stadium is built, wind direction causes the park to play even smaller than it already is.
Additionally, with shorter (and possibly closer) fences than the old Yankee Stadium, this new park should remain one of the best hitters havens in baseball for the foreseeable future.