With the home team recording a low number of homers and doubles, the Miami Marlins are once again looking at moving in the fences at Marlins Park, this time for the 2016 season.
This isn’t the first time the Marlins have talked about bringing in the fences: there were calls to do in 2012 soon after the ballpark opened.
Still, it’s a familiar story in Major League Baseball. A team builds a new ballpark and wants a spacious outfield in order to protect their current pitchers and attract free-agent pitchers while positing that wide-open power alleys would encourage doubles, but after a few years of play fans complain about the lack of home runs and power hitters sulk. The San Diego Padres and New York Mets moved in the fences for precisely these reasons; the Minnesota Twins looked at altering Target Field dimensions but refused to give in to the temptation of more homers.
Now, in Miami, there certainly is a spacious outfield in Marlins Park, particularly in the power alleys. It’s 344 down the left-field line and 335 down the right-field line, and 386 feet in the left-field power alley and 392 feet in the right-field power alley. Dead-center extends some 418 feet. Adding to the challenges for power hitters: the fences are a tall 13 feet high is some parts of the outfield.
As expected, the dimensions have led to Marlins Park being a pitchers park, with the team home ERA being 3.66 this season, and 4.32 on the road. One thing is for sure: not many home runs are hit at Marlins Park by either team. The Marlins have hit only 192 home homers since Marlins Park opened 2012.
Of course, there’s not necessarily a link between winnings and home runs: the only team trailing the Marlins in home homers since 2012 is the San Francisco Giants, a team that’s won more than its share of games and World Series.
So why bring in the fences?
Because casual fans love the long ball. Purists may appreciate a well-pitched 1-0 win, but nothing brings the crowd to its feet quicker than a home run. From MLB.com:
Team president David Samson said on Wednesday that the organization is considering moving in and lowering the fences at one of Major League Baseball’s toughest places to hit home runs.
“We haven’t formulated a final plan,” Samson told MLB.com. “Still looking, but trying to make a decision for next season.”