For the first time in 20 years, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is getting a makeover.
It became known as a ballpark that hitters loved playing in, and a big part of that was due to the field’s small dimensions. Now, the Orioles announced that the distance between home plate to the left field wall will be pushed back as much as 30 feet in varying increments at different positions in the wall. The wall will also be raised in height by approximately five feet.
Measuring in at just 333 feet, the left field wall at Camden Yards isn’t the shortest, but by no means is it the longest. With a fence of just seven feet, this area has become a dream come true for many hitters throughout the park’s existence.
Although this small change won’t immensely affect the outcome of games, it certainly will help a stadium that has seen 5,911 home runs since 1992. This little bit of extra distance surely would have turned some home runs last year into fly balls, which both helps and hurts the Orioles.
Overall, this idea is a very good use of the analytics department. Camden Yards can certainly spare 30 feet without really changing the ballpark itself all that much. In terms of what it looks for the sake of the game, let’s look at some numbers.
Of Ryan Mountcastle’s 33 home runs last season, a majority traveled over the left field wall. According to baseballsavant, 29 of these 33 homers were also expected to be home runs in other ball parks.
Of these 33 homers hit, only four would have not been home runs with Camden’s new dimensions. When you look at that compared to the home runs Oriole pitchers gave up in left field, those extra opportunities where the ball is kept in the park certainly can go a long way.
The biggest thing about this change is how it proves Orioles GM Mike Elias and his crew are serious about the changes being made, especially with the use of the analytics department. Beyond simply helping out pitchers, especially these new young arms, these changes make Camden Yards a more attractive destination for free agent arms. Isn’t that the main issue people have been complaining about for years?
In terms of the fan experience, nothing really changes. If you are sitting in left field, your view is simply pushed back a few feet. However, the distance from those seats in left to the field itself are no further away; just a little further away from home plate.
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