August 22, 2011; Cleveland, OH, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) leads the game off with a home run off of Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Fausto Carmona (left) at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

A Few Questions-- That Maybe You Can Help With


I don’t have anything really going on today and while I guess I could spent the better part of this post talking about one of the relief pitchers the Mariners picked up, I have better things to do and you can read pretty much what I would write anyways, only better, over at Proball NW or Lookout Landing. Really what I want to talk about is the left field of Safeco. No, not the position as Lonnie Mathias so wonderful brought up today.

No, I want to talk about the actual left field. It was brought up quite a bit in the comment section of one of Joel’s posts and it was brought up in general by both Jeff Sullivan, Dave Cameron and also Mike Salk. Well, not left field but rather the fence in left field and the idea of moving that fence in. All brought together some interesting arguments and while what they say is absloutely 100% true and factual it doesn’t nesscarily persuade me one way or another.

It did bring up some additional questions. Obviously it nullfies offensive production from right handed hitters. You can see that simply by looking at home/away splits as well as general right handed hitter splits in the park, as well as Statcorner and Baseball-Reference park factors.

But I want to know how many home runs does it actually take away? How many fly balls are caught within 15-20 feet of the wall? But, there are ton of balls that are caught right in front of the fence in any park so you would have to do some sort of adjustment for the percentage of balls caught/landed near the left field wall league wide. Then on top of that you would also have to know how many home runs are hit in general to left around each park to properly put that data in context.

This would be a pretty project and it would be one that I would be interested in taking on in my spare time. But here is the thing. How would I acquire said fly ball data to sort through? I know there are a few sites that provide home run data but actual fly ball locations, not sure where to start with that as Baseball-Reference doesn’t have that data and neither does MLB.com game day data, at least when I look at it I could devise a way to formulate the locations.

This isn’t to say that this would give us a deffinite answer one way or another but it certainly would go ways to giving some significant data towards how much the left field fence hurts the Mariners and it might even give us good insight on how much we should move the fences if indeed that is the direction the team chooses to go. Maybe this is an absoloute futile endevor and if you could emphasize that to me, I would appreciate it.

Any feedback from all you smarter than me would be awesome (and Keith I would appreciate your feedback too… burn).

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  • JCondreay

    Just looking through the dimensions of ballparks, Great American Ballpark has fences slightly shorter than Safeco’s. Great American is 328 in left, 379 in left center, 404 in center. Safeco is 331, 390, 405 respectively. I had trouble finding homerun totals at the ballparks to try to see what Safeco would look like if the fences were a little shorter, but they are probably out there. Those numbers wouldn’t take things like the wind at safeco into affect, but it would be interesting to look at.

  • JCondreay

    Just looking through the dimensions of ballparks, Great American Ballpark has fences slightly shorter than Safeco’s. Great American is 328 in left, 379 in left center, 404 in center. Safeco is 331, 390, 405 respectively. I had trouble finding homerun totals at the ballparks to try to see what Safeco would look like if the fences were a little shorter, but they are probably out there. Those numbers wouldn’t take things like the wind at safeco into affect, but it would be interesting to look at.

  • Keith_12thMR

    That’s an easy one Harrison. I’ll send you the hit tracker link via email.

  • Keith_12thMR

    The entire argument about moving the fences is annoying. It wont make the Ms offense any better. It’ll make BOTH offenses playing look better, and both their pitching staffs look worse. The effect is equal on both teams. The M’s will still have the inferior offense.

    What’s the difference between losing 2-1 or losing 3-2. The team still lost. Moving the fences doesn’t change anything, so talking about it as a possible fix to the problem is a waste of breath.

  • Keith_12thMR

    That’s an easy one Harrison. I’ll send you the hit tracker link via email.

  • Keith_12thMR

    The entire argument about moving the fences is annoying. It wont make the Ms offense any better. It’ll make BOTH offenses playing look better, and both their pitching staffs look worse. The effect is equal on both teams. The M’s will still have the inferior offense.

    What’s the difference between losing 2-1 or losing 3-2. The team still lost. Moving the fences doesn’t change anything, so talking about it as a possible fix to the problem is a waste of breath.

  • Harrison_Crow

    As I explained in the e-mail. This isn’t purely about home runs. It’s about flyball data. How many fly balls turn into outs, long singles, double and a couple triples rather than home runs versus other parks, their left field and how many home runs they allow annually.

    Then I would also like to know how many fly balls land within 20 feet of the wall. I’m sure there is a good percentage of those that in a normal park would go out and it’d be interesting if you could devise and extrapolate what % of those would actually go out depending on how and where you moved the fence line.

  • Harrison_Crow

    You don’t have to take weather elements nesscarily into account. But that’s why we want to see how many balls basically come short of being home runs versus how many turn into home runs. Basically it’s trying to find HR/FB ratios for each location in a park.

  • Harrison_Crow

    It’s not as simple as that, though I agree it levels the playing field and takes an immedate advantage away from the organization. But, it also limits the talent pool which to acquire players who would have success in the organization. It’s not to say that’s impossible to succeed or acquire good players as is but that there is argument to be made that the Mariners do make it more difficult on themselves.

  • Harrison_Crow

    As I explained in the e-mail. This isn’t purely about home runs. It’s about flyball data. How many fly balls turn into outs, long singles, double and a couple triples rather than home runs versus other parks, their left field and how many home runs they allow annually.

    Then I would also like to know how many fly balls land within 20 feet of the wall. I’m sure there is a good percentage of those that in a normal park would go out and it’d be interesting if you could devise and extrapolate what % of those would actually go out depending on how and where you moved the fence line.

  • Harrison_Crow

    You don’t have to take weather elements nesscarily into account. But that’s why we want to see how many balls basically come short of being home runs versus how many turn into home runs. Basically it’s trying to find HR/FB ratios for each location in a park.

  • Harrison_Crow

    It’s not as simple as that, though I agree it levels the playing field and takes an immedate advantage away from the organization. But, it also limits the talent pool which to acquire players who would have success in the organization. It’s not to say that’s impossible to succeed or acquire good players as is but that there is argument to be made that the Mariners do make it more difficult on themselves.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    @Harrison_Crow Yeah, without the flyball data, it would be hard to truly know how many homeruns we’re talking about.

    Stat corner’s 82 HR rating for righties at Safeco implies that, on average, right-handed players hit 82% of their homerun potential in Safeco. The Ms only hit 43 total homeruns from the right side last year. In all likelihood, less than half were at Safeco. Say they hit 20 dingers at home, then we’d expect them hit about 24 with the fences moved in to a position that makes it a neutral left field.

    Consider this: the average AL team not named “Mariners” hit 98 homeruns from the right side last season, and the Ms pitching staff gave up 92 homeruns to righties, which makes sense based on the ball park. Let’s say 40 of those were to come at home (I can’t find double splits like at home AND right handed). That means opposing teams coming in could expect to hit about 49 homers instead of 40 with the fences in.

    Though these are just estimations based on splits and Stat Corner, I think it articulates the point that moving the fences in would help our offense only marginally, but help opposing offenses a little more.

  • maqman

    See if http://www.hittrackeronline.com/ is any help. Moving the fences in is a bad idea as our team is built to take advantage of what Safeco offers. So if you change the park then you need to change the types of players on the team. Additionally the depressed HR rate to LF in The Safe is strongly influenced by the location specific wind flow pattern. Moving the fences in won’t change that. The shape of the park and normal wind flow results in air flowing from left field toward the infield. There was a study made on this a year or two ago.