Anticipating a hitters’ park

A.J. delivers while offense powers Yanks to 7-2 win
A-rod a-head of schedule

In a day, Yankee Stadium-mania will be in full swing. After sitting through three other home openers, the Yankees will finally make it back to the Bronx to inaugurate the new Yankee Stadium.

Over the last few years, we’ve run the gamut on the stadium. From city politics food options to toilets and my not-so-glowing review, we’ve touched on everything but baseball and how the stadium will play. That ends now.

Courtesy of Keith, a long-time RAB reader, comes the following graphic. Take a look, and click to enlarge.

yscomparison

What you see here is a not-quite-to-scale comparison between the new and old Yankee Stadiums. The dimensions, as the Yanks promised, are identical to the post-Jack Clark layout at old Yankee Stadium. Center field is 408 feet away from the plate; left and right are 318 and 314 feet away, respectively; and the power alleys are 399 to left-center and 385 to right-center.

But if we look at a little closer, there are a few signs indicating that Yankee Stadium may play as a hitter’s park. First, note the decreased foul territory and the reduced space behind home plate. Much has been made about this feature because it draws the people in the lower levels closer to the field. At the same time, it takes away outs from the pitchers and puts those balls in the seat. Down the lines, we see the same thing. There’s less room in the corners and thus less space for outs. Advantage offense.

What I think is the most significant feature though is the shape of the wall. The graphic clearly shows that the walls at old Yankee Stadium featured a gentle curve. The new Stadium displays fewer curves and more straight lines to accommodate the seats that hug the wall and stretch far into the outfield. (You can see that here and here.) The manual scoreboards, seen here, also eliminate some of the curve.

For comparison’s sake, check out this shot from old Yankee Stadium. The curvature of the wall is particularly evident in left-center.

Right now, of course, I’m simply speculating on this feature of the stadium. We won’t know for a few moths — or even a few seasons — how the stadium will play out. Right now, however, if I were a betting man, I’d bet on a hitter’s park. Good thing the Yanks are a strike out-centric pitching team this year.

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A.J. delivers while offense powers Yanks to 7-2 win
A-rod a-head of schedule
  • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

    Maybe the semi-shortened left-center field will help the right-handed power hitters get an extra home run or two at home.

    • andrew

      Or help the visiting right-handed power hitters get an extra home run or two at home.

  • Joe R

    Dont the straight walls kinda help the defense in that you can pretty much know the angle the ball will shoot off if its hit against the wall? Im sure it wont make that much of a difference but it might help a little bit.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Depends on how the manual scoreboards play really. If they have some sort of protective netting, the balls can ricochet at odd angles.

      • jeremy

        I believe the manual boards are protected by plexi.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Dont the straight walls kinda help the defense in that you can pretty much know the angle the ball will shoot off if its hit against the wall? Im sure it wont make that much of a difference but it might help a little bit.

      No.

      The curvature of the wall or lack thereof is in no way pronounced enough to alter angles that the ball bounces off the wall.

      The ball only actually touches a tiny section of the wall during impact, a section so small it’s effectively equally flat between all stadiums. The only thing that would cause the ball to ricochet differently would be a different surface in the wall, like that manual scoreboard. If there are non-flat surfaces in that scoreboard (like a jutting corner or something) or differing materials in the wall (like the bullpen cages which are now in both left-center AND right center), that could cause a funny bounce.

  • Rich

    There is also the possible issue with regard to the wind factor being different as a result of the increased size of the wall containing the video screen and the park not facing in the exact same direction as the old one, which may cause the ball to carry more.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      It certainly seemed that way during the Cubs’ game. Unfortunately for the team, though, they can’t move the walls back like Philadelphia did without sacrificing seating.

      • jeremy

        What they could do is move the bullpens to flank the sports bar, move the fences back and extend those “box” seats along the front of the left and right field bleachers. This would allow them to move the fences to where they should be, keep the seating capacity and eliminate that ridiculous obstruction from the sports bar.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          They’d never do that. (at least, not for a decade or three.)

          What you described is a MASSIVE and EXPENSIVE redesign, not a simple cosmetic fix.

          • jeremy

            Yeah. Wishful thinking I guess.

      • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

        I was in the right field section 206 for the Cubs exhibition. It was a very windy day, but boy it felt like a jet stream blowing out.

        The new stadium is pitched more E-W than the old one by my reckoning:

        http://www.delawareonline.com/.....723271.JPG

        That means more wind.

        It is also 50% larger, and so the wind is not being blocked as much by the stadium structure I’d say. I was in practically the same seat location last summer in the old stadium. Never felt that kind of right field wind. I have been going to Yankee games since the days of Jake Gibbs and Horace Clarke and never felt anything like it.

        Can’t say what the overall aerodynamics are — way above my paygrade — but the Humongous scoreboard has to help.

        The lefty power tradition continues. Swish hits 35 this year.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Can’t say what the overall aerodynamics are — way above my paygrade — but the Humongous scoreboard has to help.

          Above my paygrade too, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the huge scoreboard in dead center creates two windtunnels in the power alleys.

          Similarly, I’d be interested to see the park-effects data on the Old Kaufmann v. the New Kaufmann, now that they’ve put that behemoth scoreboard in dead center as well (with far fewer surrounding wind obstructions than what we have here.)

          • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            They always had a huge scoreboard in dead center at Kauffman. The new one may be bigger, but not much (and certainly not enough that it’d have an appreciable effect on park-effects).

            See: http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/al/kauff912.JPG

      • Yankee1010

        I’m not ruling out the possibility that the wind can play an increased role in the new stadium, but the weekend of the Cubs series was an incredibly windy weekend in the City. There were winds of 40+ mph, so more data is needed.

        • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

          Happy to supply by going to some games, and my boy 7 soon to be 8, is more than happy to oblige.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      I’ve always wondered how much the wind factors in to new stadium building.

  • monkeypants

    In general these observations seem accurate, except that there will more MORE foul territory down the lines (though less behind home plate).

    • huuz

      damn you, monkeypants!

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Are you sure there was more foul territory or just a wider warning track? I’m not so sure there’s more room that way.

        • huuz

          based on the sketch and looking at the photos, i’m positive there is more room for a fielder to catch a ball in the field of play (without diving into the stands) near 3B and 1B.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I’d say (eyeballing it) that there’s a good deal less foul territory on the infield sides of 1B/3B and and slightly more foul territory on the outfield sides of 1B/3B (thanks to those notches.)

            And, generally speaking, there’s probably more playable pop-ups on the outfield sides of the bags than the infield sides. So, my conclusion non-educated guess is that even with far less room behind home plate, thanks to the notched openings (instead of the linear slope) there will be more foulouts caught in this stadium.

            • huuz

              agreed.

        • AMS223

          There is absolutely more foul territory down the lines especially in the infield by the dugouts…I believe Tex and Cano commented on that last week I will try to find the quotes.

          • AMS223

            “There is more room in foul territory near the dugouts, which is good for pitchers who might get an extra out on a foul pop that would have fallen into the stands. But it also might mean a runner can take an extra base after a throwing error in the infield. The backstop is 20 feet closer to home plate than the old Stadium, meaning “I won’t have to run as far if a ball gets behind me,” Posada said.”

            http://www.nydailynews.com/spo....._of-2.html

  • huuz

    i agree that there is less foul territory behind the plate, but along the foul lines by 3B and 1B, there is actually more foul territory in the new stadium…

  • http://whatmickyeats.blogspot.com/ Keith

    I’m the one that sent this in. I was looking for sattelite photos of the new place for a more accurate comparison, but wasn’t able to find any. Anyone know how often google updates that stuff?

    • http://seanokanephoto.com Sean

      Not nearly often enough that you would see it any time soon. If you search thru some of the major NYY blogs I know I remember seeing some pop up in the amount of galleries that were published in the run-up to the season (specifically the newspapers’ and their blogs’ coverage).

    • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

      Google — that seems vintage 2005. Posted a pic earlier. Hope that helps.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Yup. The current Google sat image is from pre-groundbreaking. So at least early 2006, but since there’s a crowd in the stadium, I’d say summer 2005.

  • Will

    I don’t think the dimensions will have any material impact because the overall difference is so minor. Rather, as others have pointed out, the open-air design of the new stadium is much more likely to have an impact. The Cubs games featured a very strong wind, but that likely wont be the case in the summer. Also, there is always the chance of a Wrigley like effect(days with wind blowing out canceling the days with win blowing in).

    • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

      NO Lake Effect in NYC. Prevailing westerlies. The new stadium is pitched more W-E AND is more open air i.e. when the wind blows — and it does often — it will blow into the new stadium stronger.

      And yes, upon review I believe that there was some thought to making the park more A-Rod friendly.

      Joe D. would have traded to hit in this park in a heartbeat.

  • http://www.scottproctorsarm.com Andrew Fletcher

    The house that A-Rod built?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I’d go either with the House that Big George Built or the House that Derek Jeter Built before I signed off on your option.

      ARod increased our revenue streams, sure, but the reemergence of the Yankee Brand that spawned YES (probably the biggest factor in making the stadium possible) is probably more a creation of Stein or the Captain than ARod. Those seeds were planted before he got here.

      In fact, not only is the New Stadium the House that George/Jeter built, the ARod contract is basically the Contract that George/Jeter Built.

      • Pel

        Yeah, I’ll go with “The House that Swisher Built.”

        • Bo

          Can ARod win a title before he builds stadiums?

          • Jack

            How are you supposed to win games without a stadium to play in?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Can you ever use the reply button as it was intended, Grantbo?

  • http://whatmickyeats.blogspot.com/ Keith

    Found a little more info. Looks like the site I found these diagrams on is estimating a 10 – 15 ft difference in RCF.

    <A href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8157983@N04/2354184884/sizes/o/

  • http://whatmickyeats.blogspot.com/ Keith
  • Spaceman.Spiff

    Darn those few moths. Haha, not a big deal, just thought it was kinda funny.

  • Spaceman.Spiff

    Jeter might be able to squeeze a couple more homers than in the previous stadium since he loves to drive the ball oppofield so often. Same for Damon and Cano who also have similar power but a lot of their home runs seem to be pulled down the line more than into right centerfield so the short porch won’t be changing anything for them as much.

    • http://ryanhandt.blogspot.com/ handtius

      20 hr from Jeets…wishful thinking.

  • dkidd

    i wouldn’t be surprised if the new stadium ends up being a CRAZY hitter’s park a la citizen’s bank. haven’t read the comments so sorry if this a repeat but watching the cub games there seemed to be a jet stream blowing out to right center. maybe some fluke as to how the stadium is oriented and/or having a huge scoreboard in dead center?

    i’m hoping it plays closer to neutral

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