The Bleacher Report Report, Vol. I

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Bleacher Report Report is a new feature at Marlins Diehards. Dave and I will scan the vast array of quality commentary on the Marlins section of Bleacher Report and submit them to you, with our thoughts interspersed FJM-style.

For the inaugural edition of The BR Report, we look at, "Hitter's Paradise: Why Marlins' Batting Practice at New Stadium Reveals Flaw." It's a great attention grabber, although I'm not sure you want a title that rhymes with "Hitler's Paradise." Anyway, I was dumbfounded how a simple BP session in an unfinished stadium may reveal a huge mistake in the stadium planning. Let's check it out.

Now it was just batting practice, but a few home runs throughout the process may have forecasted a potential flaw with the plans of the stadium. Of note: a few baseballs came close to leaving the stadium, specifically one hit by Mike Stanton which cleared the stadium by essentially shooting through the invisible glass panels in left field and exiting the building.
Having a home run go far enough to strike the glass panels isn't a flaw, it's awesome! I'm assuming (perhaps mistakenly) that there is glass strong enough to withstand impact from a Stanton blast. If memory serves me correct, I believe the glass panels at Miller Park have been hit before (2002 home run derby?) and have survived.
Even Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria felt worried his "Pitcher Park" would end up being something else, perhaps being a repeat of what happened to the Yankees in their first season at Yankee Stadium.

"Some of those fly balls—I'm not sure this is a pitcher's ballpark anymore," Loria said. "The building is gorgeous."
I think Mr. Loria was just trying to make a funny, and struck out. Also, comparing the New Yankees Stadium and Marlins Ballpark would be a bit off, not only because of the large difference in park dimensions, but the main problem the new Yankees Stadium sufferred was wind patterns.

Because of the design of the stadium, wind comes in over the seats on the third base side, drops into the stadium, and blows out to right field. This enables some routine flyballs to carry and surpass the short right field fence. This won't be the case in Miami for two reasons. First, the park doesn't have field dimensions from the 1920s, and the ballpark will have the roof closed, making it an indoor facility the majority of the time.
Let's examine the future home of the Marlins and current one for a second, shall we? Sun Life Stadium, while mostly considered a pitcher's park is really a neutral park.

According to ESPN's Park Factor, which measures a stadium's ability to be a hitters paradise or a pitcher's park, the Marlins' Sun Life Stadium ranked 10th in runs scored but 24th in home runs per game with 0.822.
This is true. Stadiums with large field dimensions yield fewer home runs, but usually have more doubles and triples due to the large gaps. Best examples: Petco Park in San Diego and Citi Field in New York. The writer then lists the new park's dimensions, which are essentially the same as the old park's with the left and right field line distances swapped. Also there is no Bermuda Triangle.
Nevertheless, dimensions aren't the full cause of a stadium's ability to be hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly. The Marlins haven't truly played baseball in South Florida indoors, so only time will tell how playing indoors and outdoors in the stadium will effect playing conditions come 2012.
And that's it. The major argument is that since baseball has never been played indoors in South Florida, we don't know what the conditions will be like. Except that we sorta do, since it's a climate-controlled environment when the roof is closed, not unlike any other retractable-roof stadium. That takes the unknown out of it.

There is still the question of how the ballpark will play with the roof open, and of course no one knows. So a point is made there. However, I'm going to have to disagree with the title and conclusion of the article. I think we can safely assume that the new park will be more conducive to pitchers rather than hitters. And it's more of a Fan's Paradise than Hitter's Paradise.


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