Our own J.J. Keller, as well as Mariners bloggers Jeff Sullivan and Dave Cameron, have already outlined the pros and cons of moving the fences in. They are all smart, and those are all articles you should read. I mostly just wanted to engage in some animated GIF-giving. It’ll be like Christmas in October.
It seems pretty clear that moving in the fences should help anyone who gets to hit, especially right-handers like Jesus Montero, Casper Wells and the up-and-coming Mike Zunino. It’s also pretty clear that pitchers won’t be too pleased, especially the likes of Jason Vargas and maybe Danny Hultzen—both left-handed hurlers.
Thanks to Texasleaguers.com, I compiled the spray charts for the 10 Mariners hitters this season with the most plate appearances. I put them into the animated GIF below, interleaving a pretty drawing of SafeCo’s dimensions that I made myself (as if you couldn’t tell.) If you focus on the left-field fences specifically, you can see some of the outs (in red) that were hit close to the wall. We can hypothesize that some of these would become homeruns next season in Seattle’s “new” ballpark.
This is not meant to be a scientific study of how many more homeruns the M’s will hit, but rather a way to grasp the proportion of balls in play that actually make it to the wall. These spray charts include balls hit in other ballparks, which isn’t ideal, but perhaps gives us a bigger sample of each player’s power spray. Enjoy!
You’ll notice that our Mariners flirted with the wall a few times, including Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Jesus Montero, Casper Wells and Brendan Ryan. The fences will definitely make a difference, but it’s not necessarily going to be noticeable every game. Don’t tell any free agents that second part, though!