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MLB Transformers: The Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s Parks

Originally posted July 17, 2010:

Something to read while you are waiting for the perfect, bright, and vivid double rainbow or you are jamming out to the double rainbow remix (seriously, if there are only two links you click in this entire blog ever, it should be those two). Or you are waiting for the great Chicago Cubs fire sale (you could get a life-size, life-like Aramis Ramirez to fill out your personal trophy case for a small chunk of change).

Growing up Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons. It was so futuristic. Based on a robot war of good vs evil, the Autobots and Decepticons, the two spacecrafts crashed on earth four million years ago. A volcano eruption awakened (or rebooted) the sets of robots and they continued their war on Earth. I can even remember pushing around my Optimus Prime and Bluestreak action figures around the house blowing up my sisters’ Barbies. Heck, we had more than twenty guys crammed into my freshman dorm room watching the 1986 Transformers: The Movie (which has the best 80’s soundtrack that played through the entire movie) on my top-of-the-line desktop computer. Now, the new Transformers movies have a bunch of action and some awesome digital effects (not to mention a great looking cast). The new movies gave me an idea. What if all the MLB stadiums could transform into two completely different stadiums. One that benefits hitters, while the other benefits pitchers.

Most of you have heard how Colorado’s Coors Field is a hitter’s park and how San Diego’s PetCo Park is a pitcher’s park, but has anyone ever thought to build the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks? What if someone took every active MLB stadium and transformed them into ultimate stadiums, similar to Bruticus Maximus. Well… we did just that here at Kings of Cork. Not only did we take into account stadium fence distances (we did not account for wall height, just distance) but we also accounted for location and foul territory. And you may be surprised to find what stadiums contribute to the Ultimate Stadiums.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park: Decepticon Park

The new trend in MLB stadiums is to create excitement for fans and the game. And as the true home run king, Henry Aaron, said the most exciting hit in baseball is the triple. Thus, more stadiums are designing obscure fence lines to give the ball unpredictable caroms causing the outfielders to trip over their own feet resulting in a triple for the batter. This usually leads to deeper ball park fences as well to limit the number of home runs and increase the amount of physical energy used to get around the bases (less home run trots and more sprints, unless of course you are the Cincinnati Reds Adam Rosales and you sprint around the bases on a HR anyways).

Most parks don’t want to eliminate the home run, but they want to boost the difficulty of the field just enough to make the games more exciting. So what if we took all 31 (including Hiram Bithorn Park in Puerto Rico the Marlins play on from time to time) and combined all the fence lines but only kept each fence location that resulted in the longest playable field. The definition of ‘playable field’ is the amount of earth between home and the fence. Thus, it does not take into account the height of the wall. Sure, you may argue that the height of the wall should matter, but does it really? For example, a ball hit on a rope to a CF wall of 400ft but the height of the fence is 18ft will most likely carom off the wall as an extra base hit vs being a home run for a 8ft tall fence at 410ft. But take that same scenario and make it a fly ball, the ball would still hit off the taller fence, but the deeper fence would allow a possible play on the ball by the outfielder. Yes there is a bunch of physics that could argue both sides; but because we didn’t want to spend a year running the scenarios through our simulators (and because Hit Tracker supplies their field models as distance to the wall), we will assume the deeper the fence, the more pitcher friendly the park will be.

What would this ultimate park look like… below is a representation with the corresponding stadium next to it’s portion of the wall. Notice the several nooks and crannies out in right center field… a nightmare for not only a hitter looking for a home run but for a fielder trying to read a ricochet.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

(stadium dimensions and home run data were found at HitTracker.com)

Here are some interesting facts about the Decepticon park:

  • Both left and right field corners come from Wrigley. Combine the distance (355ft down left, 353ft down right) with the Ivy and the 16ft walls, pitchers will be more than willing to give up shots down the line that their fielders can make plays on.
  • Left field to left center comes from PNC Park in Pittsburgh which makes the power alley 389ft from home. That will take a good poke from any batter to hit one out of the stadium near the gap.
  • Coors Field may be considered a hitter’s park, but it’s also boasts one of the most spacious outfields and owns the deepest portion from left center to center field in the big leagues. Its power alley is 390ft to 420ft on a straight line to center.
  • Center field is almost entirely owned by the new Comerica Park with the exception to the trademark hill from Minute Maid Stadium just slightly right of dead center. Comerica’s left and right center nooks are close to 430ft, while Minute Maid’s hill is at 435ft straight away center.
  • The Mets’ new home field, Citi Field, was made to be pitcher friendly (and Jason Bay has proven that with his power decline). Therefore, it’s no surprise to see Citi Field’s fence owning the first (about 410ft) and fourth (about 385ft) right field crevices from center field.
  • AT&T Park has a piece of its same high right field wall in both the Ultimate Pitcher’s and Ultimate Hitter’s park (which you will see below). This portion in right center is a lefty’s nightmare by making the power alley 421ft from home.
  • Turner field owns the largest section of wall in right center from 390ft to 400ft before trailing off into…
  • Fenway is the other park that has portions of its outfield wall in both ultimate parks as well. The curvaceous right field portion makes for an interesting look and gives right field some distance at 380ft.
  • If every single home run of the 2513 hit so far this 2010 MLB season were hit exactly the same in this park, they would result in about half as many home runs.
  • With the help of some cheap photo editing and Google Earth’s 3D warehouse, below is a 3D model of what the Ultimate Pitcher’s Park may look like from an aerial view (click the photo for a larger view).
Decepticon Stadium

The Ultimate Pitcher's Park

But we won’t stop simply at the distance of the fence creating the most pitcher friendly environment. Let’s explore the location of the stadium and the foul territory.

Foul Territory: The logic is simple; the more foul territory a field has, the more opportunity fielders have to make a play on a ball hit into the foul territory. Which active stadiums boast the largest areas of green between the foul lines and the fans… Well, the portion behind home plate would belong to the new (and old since measurements were kept the same from the “house that Ruth built”) Yankee Stadium with 84ft from home to the back stop. This provides plenty of room for catchers to roam for foul balls, but it’s also a curse for “Wild Things” passed balls which could lead to more runners advancing. The rest of the foul territory would belong to the Coliseum’s football accommodating foul territory. Just look at the room down both the 1st and 3rd base lines. As mentioned above, the area is so large due to the requirement of accommodating the Oakland Raiders as well (the foul territory was actually reduced in size during the 1996 renovations). This spacious foul territory has been found to reduce batting averages by 5 to 7 points. Not only that, but the larger amount of grass outside the lines allows pitchers to pitch fewer pitches and try to force hitters to hit more foul balls for outs.

Location: We can rule out the Mile High City on this one. Most everyone with an 8th grade education knows that an object will fly further through air that is less dense. So the lower the altitude, the more dense the air, the more drag on the ball, thus less distance. Out of the cities that have current MLB stadiums, six cities are less than 25 feet above sea level (Boston – 20ft, Seattle – 10ft, Philadelphia – 9ft, Miami – 15ft, San Diego – 13ft, Washington – 25ft). But elevation isn’t the only aspect that makes air less dense, humidity plays a large factor. Less humidity results in a higher density air due to the fact that a water molecule has less mass than both Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules. So a drier city results in more drag on the ball. Out of the six cities listed above, the driest city is Philadelphia at an average humidity of 76% during the AM and 55% during the PM hours. Thus, Decepticon Park would be located in the City of Brotherly Love. But, the ultimate location would be Death Valley, CA. At 282ft below sea level, it is the lowest elevation in the US and has a very low average humidity. If the location of the Ultimate Pitcher’s park was in Death Valley, CA and the winds of Chicago were also incorporated, this stadium would be impossible to hit at.

The Ultimate Hitter’s Park: Autobot Stadium

A hitter’s park is defined as the opposite of a pitcher’s park. It is where hitters thrive and enjoy the soaring statistics of home runs, RBIs, and inflated batting and slugging percentages. One of the most recent cases that prove the surrounding baseball environment can greatly impact players’ statistics is Jason Bay. This past offseason, Jason Bay went from hitter friendly Fenway (with the short left field for righties) to the gargantuan Citi field. Bay went from averaging 31 HR over the past five seasons to only have 6 HR through the All-Star break in 2010. Sorry Bay fans (and Bay fantasy owners), he will not be slugging more than 20 HR this season.

Compared to the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, the Ultimate Hitter’s park is not quite as diverse or exciting. Using the same process and assumptions as the Pitcher’s park, the 31 MLB stadiums were combined and the shortest distance to the combined fences were kept. What is left looks something like this:

The Ultimate Hitters Park

The Ultimate Hitters Park

Here are the facts on Autobot stadium:

  • Left field is no surprise with the Fenway’s Green Monster being the shortest left field wall at 315ft down the line and about 325ft to straight away left. Pop flies and line drives won’t be caught if hit deep enough. Instead players will have standup singles.
  • At the transition of the Green Monster to the shorter fence in Fenway’s left center, a small section of the Coliseum sneaks in at about 370ft before Fenway’s left center fence continues to center field.
  • A small portion of the Coliseum fits into center field at 390ft before the new Nationals Park goes from dead center to slightly short of right center with their electronic scoreboard.
  • The Coliseum, even with its vast foul territory, is quite a short field and the left side of the right field power alley is the last bit of the Coliseum in the Ultimate Hitter’s park before the short porch in Yankee Stadium’s right field becomes the shortest RF fence in the bigs at 344 ft.
  • The right field fence is surprisingly made up of the same two stadiums that make up a portion of the right field fence in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. AT&T park makes it a breeze for hitters to hit water balls into McCovey Cove, where kayakers wait with fishing nets. The right field corner directly down the line belongs to Fenway at 302 ft. Coincidently, in both the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks, the right field and left field lines belong to the same stadium (Fenway for the hitter’s and Wrigley for the pitcher’s)

Foul Territory: As mentioned above, not as much diversity and interesting fence lines like the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But it would still be interesting to watch big hitting teams like the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rangers hit at a ball park like this. Scores would push upwards to double digit runs for both teams and the rules may need to be changed back to the original rule of a team must score 21 runs to win. The foul territory for the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be as small as possible to get foul balls out of play quicker. Thus, this stadiums foul territory would come from two stadiums: one of the oldest and one of the newer stadiums. The foul territory down the lines would belong to Boston’s Fenway Park. Boston likes their fans up close and personal (that and so they can rain louder boo’s on their opponents). Combine Fenway’s foul territory outside the lines with the backstop from San Francisco’s AT&T park and there will be very few foul ball plays (AT&T’s backstop is a meager 48ft from home plate).

Location: Similar to the pitcher’s park above, location matters. Of course, there is little surprise where the highest elevation exists among current MLB stadiums. That belongs to the Mile High City, Denver, CO home of Coors field. Air humidity can’t even factor into this decision as the second highest stadium is at 1082 ft above sea level (Chase field). But where would the ultimate location be… Mt. Whitney, CA at 14,505 ft. That’s right, the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, which would be located in the Badwater Basin in Death Valley CA, and the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be located only 76 miles apart. Sure the highest elevation in the US is Mt McKinley, but the temperature there is almost never above freezing. That makes it hard to play baseball even in the Ultimate Hitter’s park.

What might the stadium look like… Here is a batter’s eye view of what the Ultimate Hitter’s park could look like at the dish (click the photo for a larger view).

Autobot Stadium

The Ultimate Hitter's Park

Like it was mentioned above, this field has nothing exciting as the right field in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But, I would still enjoy seeing any slug fest at a stadium like this. However, it would be very hard for the home team to secure any big pitchers and some teams have a hard enough time with this already. I would prefer to watch a game at the Ultimate Pitcher’s park over this one; or the two stadiums could be combined into one park that would be similar to the old Polo Grounds. Now that would be awesome.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise… Enjoy.

Opening Day(s) Snafus

Wow, you guys (and gals) are really on top of your game this season. It only took 1 day for someone to notice my inability to spell players’ names correctly which totally scrambled the standings. It probably helped that it was a Brewer home run that wasn’t showing up since we have so many Brewer fans keeping tabs on the Home Run Derby.

That’s not where the credit ends for this group of baseball fans. Within a matter of 3 days, I’ve received more recommendations for sharing certain baseball stories than I have received in the past 5 years. I really enjoy getting recommendations for posting and sharing with everyone else, whether the recommendations make it into a full blown story or just an embedded link. Such as this great photo and story of Hank the Dog enjoying some Miller Park hot dogs.

Or this great Twins clubhouse prank for March Madness. And this unbelievable photo of Andrew Cashner’s magnificent hairdo. So, keep those links coming into The Commish’s inbox.

But let’s talk about the two under performing teams in the NL East and how they may have lost even more fans on opening day.

Mets Opening Day Is A Circus… Literally

    What should have been a short trip to the park for most New Yorkers, turned into an opening day nightmare. With the Cirque Du Soleil eating up Citi Field’s parking lot, fans spent HOURS weaving in and out around the stadium trying to find a place to park. And most of them didn’t make it into the stadium to see the opening pitch, which is why the game looked so empty in the first inning like a college football student section still pregaming at kickoff.

    What was the Mets organization thinking? Did they forget the traveling circus was in town? Were they confused when fans called the 2013 Mets a giant circus? Did they think Ike Davis could be the next bearded lady? I’m just dumbfounded on what the Citi Field scheduler was doing the day they booked the circus for Opening Day, or the same weekend, or whatever.

    I would be livid if that happened to me at an opening day. Granted, if it were Brewer Opening Day, I would be on a Bar bus to a huge tented tailgate with leftover St.Patty’s Day kegs (or at least in the parking lot 5 hrs before the game started for tailgating). But seriously, if I were a Mets fan, I would be thinking twice before going back for another live game. Sitting at home, with cold beer in the fridge, and better than front row seats on TV, sounds a WHOLE LOT better than sitting in traffic with tickets listening to the first 100 pitches on the radio.

Marlins Ownership Is Clueless On Running A Business

    So how can a team screw up worse than the Mets on opening day? Let’s take a look at the team that’s well known for their ‘spend a ton, then fire sale’ management style and what the ownership was saying about his ‘loyal’ fans. That’s right I’m talking about the Miami Marlins. Yes the same Marlins that just built a new stadium yet averages just over 19,000 fans per game. The same team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 (although their record is currently a winning one). The same one that hasn’t won 70 games in either of the past 2 seasons. How Miami still has a team just baffles me (although not as baffling as Tampa Bay who has a winning team but a lower attendance than Miami).

    What’s really confusing is how they have any fans at all after the team president keeps making certain comments to the public. My favorite in the past few months was in his publicized Survivor biography where he states, “Personal Claim to Fame: Got local government in Miami to contribute over 350 million dollars to a new baseball park during the recession.” WHAAAAAAAAAT?!

    Who would say a thing like that? Oh, I know, the same guy that accuses his own fans… his customers… for poor transportation planning, for slow concession lines, for being fans. Has he never been in business before? I even know the saying ‘The Customer is always right’. It doesn’t mean they are right, but give the fans/customers the respect and gratitude for being fans of a horrible team. Take accountability for not expecting 35,000 fans when your average is 19,500 fans. Lesson learned? Probably not because he obviously learned nothing on the 3 days he was on Survivor this year.

Milestone Post Informs Contestants About More Winners In 2012

Carlos Ruiz may not be a winner after running 270 feet on a single wild pitch, but more of you will be in the 2012 Home Run Derby.

There’s no catch… AND you don’t have to throw faster than Jamie Moyer to win these prizes.

Instead of paying out the HR Derby leader at the All-Star break and 2nd half totals, EVERY MONTH we will have a winner. The team that hits the most home runs from the First of the month through the Last day of the month will take home the monthly prize. That means every team will have a fresh chance to win EVERY MONTH. Plus, we will still have our prizes for the Top-5 Overall season HR total leaders.

This news comes on a milestone for our site… this post is officially the 100th post and by the time most of the readers read this April 25th, the site will have surpassed 20,000 visitors. Those milestones are thanks to you the readers and participants of the Kings of Cork over the past 3 years. And with the interest still building on the site, we don’t plan to be stopping any time soon.

Other noteworthy news:

Inside The Acquisition’s Stadiums: Jose Reyes

Miami's New Stadium Appeared In A 1986 Film

Reyes went from sponsoring Ghetto Hikes in Queens to Navigator of Miami.

He was only one of the Marlins big acquisitions this offseason. It seems the Marlins are stocking up on plenty of wood to build an amazing fire for their next big fire sale. They have nearly doubled their payroll going from $57Mil to $94Mil. Three of their four big name acquisitions are the highest paid players on the team (Hanley is now number 4). And guess who the highest paid player on the team is… the most feared name in Gatorade cooler history, Carlos Zambrano. Granted, the Cubs owe 15 of that $18Mil contract. Let’s go inside the Acquisition’s Stadiums of Jose Reyes.

  • When will the next Florida Fire Sale be?

This isn’t a new strategy for the Marlins. Their front office seems to be in a cycle of Buy, Buy, Buy, Sell, Sell, Sell. In 1997, they bought Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou off free-agency at lucrative deals (see Reyes and Buerhle’s deals) and went on to beat the Indians in the World Series. Soon after, house was cleaned which is rare for a team winning the big game. Alou, Bonilla, Kevin Brown, and Gary Sheffield were all sent packing. In 2003 they won their second World Series, and by 2005 they sent most of their big names packing again. So here we are in 2012, and they are in the buying spirit again by throwing out big numbers out to Pujols, CJ Wilson, Reyes, Heath Bell, and Buerhle. But they only managed to bag three of them. With the major buying period over, it appears the Marlins’ next fire sale will begin in 2014. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco will be a free agents, HanRam will be in his last year at $16Mil, Heath Bell in his last year at $10Mil, Reyes at $16Mil, and Buehrle at $19Mil. Not to mention Stanton will be eligible for his first year of arbitration. Yup, 2014 will be a busy year for Miami’s accountants.

  • Will Reyes finally stay healthy and produce useful numbers?

Reyes will be his fastest yet since hes more aerodynamic and 20lbs lighter without dreads. But he has only played in more than 130 games once in the past 3 seasons. Has only topped 100 runs in one of those three seasons. And hasn’t eclipsed the 40SB mark since 2008 (from 2005 to 2008 he stole almost 260 bases). However, he swiped 39 bags in 126 games last season and cheated won the NL batting title with a 0.337 BA by benching himself in the final game (did Reyes cheat or did he know Braun was doping and didn’t want a cheater winning the batting title?). So the question is, did Miami just buy the most expensive torn hamstring? If Reyes’ hamstrings stay healthy this season, he could potentially steal 70+ bases again. Ozzie Guillen is the new skipper and in 2010 (when the White Sox weren’t made of raw power) he told his guys to run 235 times. That was the most among all teams in 2010. It’s still unknown if Reyes will bat first or second, but he will be given the green light to run wild on the base paths in order to get more scoring opportunities for Hanley and Stanton. I would gamble on Reyes this season after missing 36 games last season and still finishing 16th on the ESPN player rater. Remember, no one has stolen 100 bases in a single season since Vince Coleman in 1987 (he did it in all 3 seasons from ’85-’87). I would love to see a 100SB season and I think Reyes has the best chance.

  • What impact does this signing have on Goliath Mike Stanton?

Mike Stanton is the Jim Furyk of baseball. His swing is so ugly but that ball goes a mile when he connects with it. Let’s be honest, Reyes coming to the Marlins won’t make Stanton’s swing any more beautiful to watch. But what Reyes does bring is a 0.292 career batting average. This translates into more RBI opportunities for Stanton since Reyes will be in front of Stanton in the order. He had 87 RBIs last season… this year he will get his first 100 RBI season and likely more than 110. Stanton’s the real deal; he’s not in Group A for his speed. Stanton is on my target list to own in all my leagues this season while he is still somewhat cheap.

Cut Dread Locks Unlock Reyes 2012 Speed

  • What impact does Reyes have on Hanley?

Oh there you are Hanley” is what Marlins fans hope to be saying this season after last. HanRam’s ADP in ESPN drafts last season was about 2.6! Two, point, six! I watched Hanley Ramirez get traded for Dillon Gee in one of my leagues last season and there was a riot. In the end, Dillon Gee may have been a better player. So adding Reyes definitely can’t hurt Hanley’s ability to perform better than 2011. And if you voiced your hatred to Hanley on his twitter account, HanRam may be giving you credit this season with every crack of the bat. Most likely, the Reyes signing will move Hanley to the three hole in the lineup to make use of his power. Unfortunately, adding Reyes pretty much puts a kibosh on Hanley’s use of his speed. Before 2011, Hanley has a 124HR/196SB split line for his first 5 full MLB seasons. That’s an average of 20HR/40SB per season. Absolutely ridiculous. That type of speed and power combination doesn’t come along often let alone at the most scarce fantasy baseball position: Shortstop. I would speculate that Hanley will now be more of a 25HR/20SB type player. Which is still good but not GREAT. He’s also moving to thirdbase which will give him multiple position eligibility (that’s a common trend in the first 3 Acquisition’s Stadium articles). Even though his stolen base totals will drop, his RBI and potential power will increase. Hanley Ramirez may have upset some fantasy owners in 2011 and terrified would be owners in 2012, but one thing is for certain, I will gladly draft Hanley in the top 15 this season (his current ADP is 19.3).

  • What impact does Reyes have on Lo-Mo and Bonifacio?

The real question here is who’s going to be batting in one of the other top 2 spots in the Marlins lineup alongside Reyes this season. Bonifacio is projected to bat number 2 behind Reyes, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. I would think Logan Morrison would be a better fit at number 2 and putting Bonifacio at the bottom of the order. That might be the reason that I’m not a big league manager. In either case, Bonifacio has nothing to gain other than more RBI opportunities if he bats second. If he bats first, he’s the same player he was last year. If he bats at the back half in my scenario, he has a lot of run opportunities to lose. If LoMo stops playing with his dog Twitter and gets the opportunity to represent his father’s favorite player (the Marlins actually unretired a jersey number for LoMo) by batting in the two-hole, he has a lot more to gain. His runs scored would almost double from the 54 he had last season and his RBI could push 85 or 90. So the current answer to the question posed above is, Bonifacio has first crack at increasing his RBIs from the 36 he had last season. But Logan Morrison could (should) be the beneficiary of said RBIs. Pay attention to the Marlins spring training lineups to see who should be on your fantasy radar.

  • What does this mean for the Mets?

Let’s face it, the Mets season is going to be over after the first pitch, again. The Mets are a team on the brink of bankruptcy sale. Their opening day payroll will probably drop by more than $50Mil from 2011 to 2012. Still at a $90+Mil payroll in 2012, they don’t have the names to be able to contend or justify that amount of money in the payroll. And I wouldn’t be surprised if David Wright is on a new team by the middle of July. That’s not good news for Mets fans as they will be forced to watch a losing team. However, the good news for Mets fans is that the rumor is ticket prices could be reduced by as much as 30% to try to spark more revenue. So it will at least be more affordable to watch the Mets lose than it has been in previous seasons.

Recap:
– Marlins are restocking their shelves for their next fire sale in 2014.
– Reyes has the best chance at a 100SB season. If he stays healthy, he will attempt at least 80SB this season. And with HanRam and Stanton behind him, he has a shot at 120 Runs.
– Stanton will get 100RBI for the first time and has a shot at topping 115.
– Hanley is worth the gamble in 2012. Expect 25HR/20SB and he will be worth a top 15 pick as a multi-position eligible player.
– Either Logan Morrison or Emilio Bonafacio will benefit and the other will suffer. Monitor spring training lineups for the Marlins to see if LoMo is batting near the top of the order. Otherwise, LoMo will not gain any fantasy value from last season.
– Mets Fans, you might as well read the article on being a fan of a sub 0.500 team. Just stick it out true Mets fans, your day will come again (once you stop paying retired player Bobby Bonilla 11-years of interest).