Though other teams are moving in their ballpark fences to pump up the offense, the Minnesota Twins braintrust says they’ll keep the spacious dimensions at Target Field — for now.
Target Field is known as a pitchers’ ballpark, partly thanks to the spacious dimensions and partly thanks to the high fences. (In right field, for instance, the home-run fence is 23 feet high.) That led to considerably fewer home runs in Target Field than the Twins experienced in the Metrodome. It also was a factor in Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel departing the team via free agency — though, to be honest, we’re always a little skeptical of field conditions playing a huge factor in such departures. In the case of Cuddyer, the Colorado Rockies offered more money and years, and given Kubel’s injury issues, it probably was time for him to seek a new home elsewhere.
Plus, there’s a flip side to the spacious dimensions: it’s a huge advantage for pitchers. And at the end of the day you win with pitching, not home runs. The most sought-after commodity in the major leagues is a solid pitching staff. The Texas Rangers didn’t rise in the American League until there was a systemwide emphasis on pitching. The Yankees may have some flashy bats, but it’s the pitching staff — both homegrown and acquired via free agency — that makes the team a winner.
This philosophy is why the Twins will be keeping the fences as they are — for now. “We’re always going to take a look at [field dimensions],” Twins President Dave St. Peter told the Star Tribune. “Yes, we’ve had discussions. We looked at it analytically and you talk to the manager, your hitting coach and pitching coach. You also look at statistics and you look at how the ballpark played. What we did agree to do is to give this another year. And, understand, that even if it plays more toward a pitchers’ park, we can use that to our advantage with a pitching staff that largely pitches to contact.”
It’s not uncommon for teams to adjust the fences after a new ballpark opens: Detroit and Philadelphia did so after the opening of their new facilities. And the New York Mets are moving in the fences this season at Citi Field after plenty of complaints from players like David Wright.
Photo by Jim Robins.
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