It’s looking more and more like the Mets are going to make alterations to the outfield dimensions prior to the start of the 2012 season. After three years of data to see how Citi Field plays, it seems like a perfect time to make changes. The Tigers changed the outfield dimensions to Comerica Park after three years and the world did not end. However, the question remains if it’s a good idea for the team as a whole.
From May 5th to July 29th, the Mets played perhaps their best stretch of baseball, going 43-33 (.566) in that period. At various times in that span, the Mets played without Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Angel Pagan, Jose Reyes and David Wright. In those 76 games, the Mets won without much help from the long ball, as they hit just 43 HR.
That HR pace over a 162-game season would result in 92 HR, which would just edge out the Padres (91 HR) to avoid the distinction of being the team with the fewest homers in the National League. We all know that chicks dig the long ball but fans prefer wins. I’m quite content to watch a team hit the ball and run the bases and win without waiting for a HR to carry the offense.
On the flip side, from July 30th through the end of the year, the Mets hit 40 HR in 56 games but went just 22-34 (.393). In their hot stretch, the Mets averaged a HR every .566 games. In the cold spell to end the season, they averaged a HR every .714 games. Of course, it’s not fair to blame the poor play on increased HR output. It’s just a point to show that more HR does not equal more team success.
Sandy Alderson has talked about looking to make the park fairer to hitters. And there’s no doubt that Citi Field plays as a pitcher’s park. But the Mets were 6th in the 16-team NL in runs scored, even with all of the injuries to their hitters. And for our two stretches outlined above, in the .566-HR stretch the Mets scored 4.7 runs per game and in the .714-HR stretch they scored 4.2 runs per game.
I am not opposed to the idea of changing the outfield dimensions. But it just doesn’t seem warranted in this case. Instead, it seems to be nothing more than an attempt to boost the HR numbers of Jason Bay and Wright.
And lost in the discussion about moving in the fences is the impact it would have on the Mets’ pitchers. The team’s pitching staff was already tied for 8th in the NL in HR allowed (147). What effect would it have on the team’s ERA if 20 more HR were surrendered by the pitchers in Citi Field? Even with the large dimensions, the Mets finished 13th with a 4.19 ERA. It’s likely to be the same SP for the Mets next year, too.
Another thing to consider is that moving in the fences is something tangible to sell to the fan base that doesn’t cost the Wilpons very much money. I’d rather that they focus on re-signing Reyes, find a way to get Daniel Murphy in the lineup and add some competent relievers than waste time on a cheap PR win that might hurt the club in the long haul.