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  • Stadium sizes / Easier to homer?

    It's no secret that stadiums are smaller than before. How much so? On average?

    I said that we have made ballparks smaller by about fifty feet and someone said, "No way." So, I took that back and said that I've read that stadiums are around 50 feet smaller to the power alleys than they used to be, but would have to get back to him.

    This whole concept comes from Bill Jenkinson who talks about how bad it is that our ballparks today are so much easier to homer in than before. This is true, but how true? How much smaller are ballparks to the power alleys? Down the lines? Centerfield? In comparison to, say, the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50, 60s, etc. etc.?

  • #2
    How far back do you want to go? 1900? 1930?

    I imagine power alleys were farther than todays and CF as well. Down the line might be shorter during the deadball era or in the 20s... I don't know what the averages would be, but as little as like 5-10 ft. difference would be huge as far as HRs goes... And I imagine it was more than 10 ft. in alleys and CF.
    Last edited by The Splendid Splinter; 05-27-2008, 02:06 PM.
    "Back before I injured my hip, I thought going to the gym was for wimps."
    Bo Jackson

    Actually, I think they were about the same because I lettered in all sports, and I was a two-time state decathlon champion.
    Bo Jackson

    My sophomore year I placed 2nd, and my junior and senior year - I got smart and piled up enough points between myself and second place where I didn't have to run the mile.
    Bo Jackson

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Gregory Pratt View Post
      It's no secret that stadiums are smaller than before. How much so? On average?

      I said that we have made ballparks smaller by about fifty feet and someone said, "No way." So, I took that back and said that I've read that stadiums are around 50 feet smaller to the power alleys than they used to be, but would have to get back to him.

      This whole concept comes from Bill Jenkinson who talks about how bad it is that our ballparks today are so much easier to homer in than before. This is true, but how true? How much smaller are ballparks to the power alleys? Down the lines? Centerfield? In comparison to, say, the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50, 60s, etc. etc.?
      You're in luck. This happens to be a pet project I've been dabbling in and I put the legwork in. Here's what I've found so far.

      I used Clem's Baseball as my source and went through systematically (using Excel) to compare the park dimensions from the teens and 20's to compare with the parks of today.

      Most of the original 16 parks were modified in the 20's, some were originally larger and vice versa. I used the longest dimensions from each park listed for the 1910-30 period to demonstrate the magnitude of the discrepancy between eras. For some parks, LC and RC were included, for many they were not and the data were omitted.

      Major League wall distances from home plate for the 1910's-20's:
      Left Field Line: 345
      Left Center: 401
      Center Field: 453
      Right Center: 371
      Right Field Line: 318


      With wall heights, a caveat arose. I wanted to look at average OF wall height and compare it to that of today's, but realized that due to wildly differential heights even within the same parks, averages wouldn't represent an accurate portrayal of reality.

      For example, here are some idiosyncrasies:

      -The Baker Bowl had a 281 foot RF line and relatively short power alley, but a 60 foot wall.

      -League Park was 290 to RF, but had a 45 foot RF wall and a 25 foot CF wall.

      -Fenway: The sign says the Green Monster is 310 feet from home plate. It's 304.779 feet, high according to one measurement or 308, according to another. It has been green only since 1947. Before that, Fenway's left-field wall was covered with advertisements. The original 25-foot wall was made of wood, which burned along with the rest of the park in a January 5, 1934, fire. The second, 37-foot wall was tin over wooden railroad ties. The current hard plastic wall, also 37 feet high, was erected in 1976.

      -Ebbets had a 37 foot right field wall.

      On average, the walls of yesteryear were taller than those of today, especially the right field walls.

      I didn't even breach distance behind home plate, much less foul territory as sidebar topics related to how parks have changed over the history of the game.

      Last night I went through and calculated the dimensions of the parks of today:

      Major League wall distances from home plate for 2008:
      Left Field Line: 330
      Left Center: 371
      Center Field: 403
      Right Center: 372
      Right Field Line: 327


      So, left field lines were generally longer, left center was on average 30 feet deeper, and center field, well, 50 foot differential there.

      What would a 450+ average center field and deeper power alleys do to HR totals? Consider this according to historian Bill Jenkinson's findings:

      1. Barry Bonds has never hit a single ball 500 feet in his 23 year career, and had only hit 3 balls 450 feet prior to to his lovely rendezvous with BALCO in 15 years. Bonds hit a 493-foot HR off of Seth Etherton on June 7, 2000. It was about 45 feet longer than any other non-wind-aided HR he'd hit in the first 35.8 years of his life.

      2. Moreover, take Barry's 2004 season...the location of every ball he hit was tracked. Bonds hit 45 home runs, 22 of which would not have been out of the Yankee Stadium of Ruth's day. He would have gained four from the short porch, which brings him to a grand total of 27 for the year. HALF of what he actually hit with today's conditions. Sure, he would adjust, but he would lose a ton in the HR/SLG department, regardless of how much he adjusted. Bonds never hit a single ball that would have cleared the left center field fence OR center field fence in old Yankee Stadium.
      Attached Files
      Last edited by csh19792001; 05-28-2008, 03:15 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
        You're in luck. This happens to be a pet project I've been dabbling in and I put the legwork in. Here's what I've found so far.

        I used Clem's Baseball as my source and went through systematically (using Excel) to compare the park dimensions from the teens and 20's to compare with the parks of today.

        Most of the original 16 parks were modified in the 20's, some were originally larger and vice versa. I used the longest dimensions from each park listed for the 1910-30 period to demonstrate the magnitude of the discrepancy between eras. For some parks, LC and RC were included, for many they were not and the data were omitted.

        Major League wall distances from home plate for the 1910's-20's:
        Left Field Line: 345
        Left Center: 401
        Center Field: 453
        Right Center: 371
        Right Field Line: 318


        With wall heights, a caveat arose. I wanted to look at average OF wall height and compare it to that of today's, but realized that due to wildly differential heights even within the same parks, averages wouldn't represent an accurate portrayal of reality.

        For example, here are some idiosyncrasies:

        -The Baker Bowl had a 281 foot RF line and relatively short power alley, but a 60 foot wall.

        -League Park was 290 to RF, but had a 45 foot RF wall and a 25 foot CF wall.

        -Fenway: The sign says the Green Monster is 310 feet from home plate. It's 304.779 feet, high according to one measurement or 308, according to another. It has been green only since 1947. Before that, Fenway's left-field wall was covered with advertisements. The original 25-foot wall was made of wood, which burned along with the rest of the park in a January 5, 1934, fire. The second, 37-foot wall was tin over wooden railroad ties. The current hard plastic wall, also 37 feet high, was erected in 1976.

        -Ebbets had a 37 foot right field wall.

        On average, the walls of yesteryear were taller than those of today, especially the right field walls.

        I didn't even breach distance behind home plate, much less foul territory as sidebar topics related to how parks have changed over the history of the game.

        Last night I went through and calculated the dimensions of the parks of today:

        Major League wall distances from home plate for 2008:
        Left Field Line: 330
        Left Center: 371
        Center Field: 403
        Right Center: 372
        Right Field Line: 327


        So, left field lines were generally longer, left center was on average 30 feet deeper, and center field, well, 50 foot differential there.

        What would a 450+ average center field and deeper power alleys do to HR totals? Consider this according to historian Bill Jenkinson's findings:

        1. Barry Bonds has never hit a single ball 500 feet in his 23 year career, and had only hit 3 balls 450 feet prior to to his lovely rendezvous with BALCO in 15 years. Bonds hit a 493-foot HR off of Seth Etherton on June 7, 2000. It was about 45 feet longer than any other non-wind-aided HR he'd hit in the first 35.8 years of his life.

        2. Moreover, take Barry's 2004 season...the location of every ball he hit was tracked. Bonds hit 45 home runs, 22 of which would not have been out of the Yankee Stadium of Ruth's day. He would have gained four from the short porch, which brings him to a grand total of 27 for the year. HALF of what he actually hit with today's conditions. Sure, he would adjust, but he would lose a ton in the HR/SLG department, regardless of how much he adjusted. Bonds never hit a single ball that would have cleared the left center field fence OR center field fence in old Yankee Stadium.

        Thats the big one parks from 1900s-10s-20s and 1930s much deeper in center. Some of the bombs we see, the tape measure jobs to center on ESPN would be EBHs and in some cases long fly outs.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post
          Thats the big one parks from 1900s-10s-20s and 1930s much deeper in center. Some of the bombs we see, the tape measure jobs to center on ESPN would be EBHs and in some cases long fly outs.
          Here's the question- which can probably be answered with the precision of today's technology, which pretty much tracks where every ball is hit.....

          What percentage of homers hit today would either be outs or EBH's in the old parks? How many homers hit by today's sluggers to center (or close to center) are hit over 440 feet? How many would be lost to the power alleys, particularly in RF, where ML parks were 30 feet deeper, on average?

          Since we can't account for the myriad of variables which make homers easier or more difficult to hit (equipment, training, pitching styles, etc. ad infinitum), we have to focus on the distances and assume those factors all balance each other out (they don't, of course, but let's assume a guy who hit the ball 450 feet in 1925 would do the same today).

          Here are the average homer distances this year:

          Code:
          2008 League Stats
            	                 AL 	NL 	MLB
          Avg. True Dist. 	391.3 	396.4 	394.1
          http://www.hittrackeronline.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            Another interesting example about how stadium sizes have changed how many homers are hit.

            Alex Rodriguez hit 26 home runs at Yankee Stadium in 2007. Had he been playing in The Stadium of 1937-75, the number would probably have been cut to 12-14.

            Originally posted by brett View Post
            Interesting and surprising. I can not rotate a picture by any arbitrary amount and preserve the "skew" so I attempted to skew the YS pic one direction and A-Rod's home runs the other direction and then set them to the same scale.

            I was suprised to count only 12-14 that would have been home runs with the old dimensions, though I must add that with his speed, a lot of those deep flies may have been triples or even IPHR and it is possible that a few of his flyouts and doubles could have gone over in some spots.
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
              Here's the question- which can probably be answered with the precision of today's technology, which pretty much tracks where every ball is hit.....

              What percentage of homers hit today would either be outs or EBH's in the old parks? How many homers hit by today's sluggers to center (or close to center) are hit over 440 feet? How many would be lost to the power alleys, particularly in RF, where ML parks were 30 feet deeper, on average?

              Since we can't account for the myriad of variables which make homers easier or more difficult to hit (equipment, training, pitching styles, etc. ad infinitum), we have to focus on the distances and assume those factors all balance each other out (they don't, of course, but let's assume a guy who hit the ball 450 feet in 1925 would do the same today).

              Here are the average homer distances this year:

              Code:
              2008 League Stats
                	                 AL 	NL 	MLB
              Avg. True Dist. 	391.3 	396.4 	394.1
              http://www.hittrackeronline.com/
              Well no math or formula involved in this just what I hear in a number of games that I watch on TV. Many times, most times on balls hit to center we hear the drive went 420 to 430 feet, rare 450. Are these numbers they give accurate, who knows. But in the early years Detroit was 455, Boston 488, Chicago 455 and Yankee Stadium was 487 so many of todays would fall short.
              I am going to take a look at HIT TRACKER, look at some distances on home runs hit to centerfield.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                Another interesting example about how stadium sizes have changed how many homers are hit.

                Alex Rodriguez hit 26 home runs at Yankee Stadium in 2007. Had he been playing in The Stadium of 1937-75, the number would probably have been cut to 12-14.
                I'm sure most on the board are familiar with the fact that before 1937 Yankee Stadium was even bigger. Direct dead center was 487 feet, that 490 is just a bit to the left of dead center.
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ballparks have certainly become more "standardized" over the years. There used to be some huge differences between parks, and that has almost entirely disappeared. There are still parks which favor the hitter or the pitcher, and some parks are notably easy to hit HRs in. Gone are the parks which were truly difficult to hit HRs in. No modern park is comparable to Griffith Stadium or Forbes Field. Oddly-shaped parks, with deep fences in one direction and very close fences in another, have also become extinct except for Fenway.

                  Some thoughts and historical stuff-

                  The smallest set of ballparks was probably the NL of 1953. It had:
                  -Wrigley Field, which had the same dimensions then and now (but without the baskets on the outfield walls).
                  -Ebbets Field, one of the great bandboxes.
                  -Sportsmans Park, another cozy ballpark.
                  -Shibe Park, a classic squarish/diamond-shaped park with a deep cf but reachable down the lines and in the power alleys.
                  -Polo Grounds, with the shortest foul line distances in baseball. Sure it had a humongous cf, but there were about 100 cheap popfly HRs in the corners each season.
                  -Crosley Field, this was the year they brought the fences in. Used to be a tough HR park, now one of the easiest.
                  -Forbes Field, this was the last year they had the inner fence up for Ralph Kiner.
                  -Milwaukee County Stadium, pretty much a normal sized park. But it was the toughest HR park in this league.

                  The NL in 1953 hit 1197 HRs in 1244 games, which at the time was a record number. The NL would beat that in 1955 (with 1263 HRs in 1232 games), using the same parks but by then Pittsburgh restored Forbes to its "normal" dimensions, making it the toughest HR park in the NL once again.

                  The 1953 NL was the first league to have 4 40-HR hitters. The NL would have at least 4 40-Hr players for the next two seasons as well.
                  Last edited by stevebogus; 05-28-2008, 09:03 PM. Reason: oops I hit the wrong button, needed to complete my last sentence

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
                    Ballparks have certainly become more "standardized" over the years. There used to be some huge differences between parks, and that has almost entirely disappeared. There are still parks which favor the hitter or the pitcher, and some parks are notably easy to hit HRs in. Gone are the parks which were truly difficult to hit HRs in. No modern park is comparable to Griffith Stadium or Forbes Field. Oddly-shaped parks, with deep fences in one direction and very close fences in another, have also become extinct except for Fenway.

                    Some thoughts and historical stuff-

                    The smallest set of ballparks was probably the NL of 1953. It had:
                    -Wrigley Field, which had the same dimensions then and now (but without the baskets on the outfield walls).
                    -Ebbets Field, one of the great bandboxes.
                    -Sportsmans Park, another cozy ballpark.
                    -Shibe Park, a classic squarish/diamond-shaped park with a deep cf but reachable down the lines and in the power alleys.
                    -Polo Grounds, with the shortest foul line distances in baseball. Sure it had a humongous cf, but there were about 100 cheap popfly HRs in the corners each season.
                    -Crosley Field, this was the year they brought the fences in. Used to be a tough HR park, now one of the easiest.
                    -Forbes Field, this was the last year they had the inner fence up for Ralph Kiner.-Milwaukee County Stadium, pretty much a normal sized park. But it was the toughest HR park in this league.

                    The NL in 1953 hit 1197 HRs in 1244 games, which at the time was a record number. The NL would beat that in 1955 (with 1263 HRs in 1232 games), using the same parks but by then Pittsburgh restored Forbes to its "normal" dimensions, making it the toughest HR park in the NL once again.

                    The 1953 NL was the first league to have 4 40-HR hitters. The NL would have at least 4 40-Hr players for the next two seasons as well.


                    True, when Kiner left the left side of Forbes went back to being deeper. Supposedly made shorter in 1947 the year Hank Greenberg a RH hitter came to Forbes, Hank played only one season, Greenbergs Garden. The younger RH hitting Ralph Kiner remained, "Kiner's Korner" stayed with the same dimensions till, as you mention he left.

                    I don't think it was a coincidence that Ted Williams came to Boston in 1939 and the following year the dimensions on the right side were made shorter. Off the top of my head if I recall RF went from 334 to 302 or 304, RCF now with bullpens from 405 to 380.

                    Al Simmons went to the White Sox in the early to mid 1930s, complained about the dimensions and the White Sox moved home plate out 14 feet.

                    So what happened to Joe Dimaggio, he had the worst deal of the bunch and they just left it that way. One look at that left side "Death Valley" makes me appreciate Joe even more. If the Yanks give him a fair shake we're looking at 400+ home runs in 13 seasons and he's flirting with a .590 to .600 career slugging.
                    Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 05-28-2008, 09:27 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post
                      True, when Kiner left the left side of Forbes went back to being deeper. Supposedly made shorter in 1947 the year Hank Greenberg a RH hitter came to Forbes, Hank played only one season, Greenbergs Garden. The younger RH hitting Ralph Kiner remained, "Kiner's Korner" stayed with the same dimensions till, as you mention he left.

                      I don't think it was a coincidence that Ted Williams came to Boston in 1939 and the following year the dimensions on the right side were made shorter. Off the top of my head if I recall RF went from 334 to 302 or 304, RCF now with bullpens from 405 to 380.

                      Al Simmons went to the White Sox in the early to mid 1930s, complained about the dimensions and the White Sox moved home plate out 14 feet.
                      Yep, some teams would alter the ballpark dimensions to suit their talent. When the Senators came up with some young righthanded sluggers in the late 1950s they also put up a short LF fence in Griffith. Home plate in old Comiskey Park was moved up and back several times over the years, and sometimes inner fences were installed, then removed. Sometimes modifications are made to a park just to get it to play closer to "normal" for the league. This helps in talent evaluation. And, if it is thought that the fans want more excitement, modifications could be made to increase scoring. Dodger Stadium was originally a tough HR park. Since it also lowered batting averages that made run-scoring very difficult there. Dodger pitchers would post low ERAs but their hitters suffered. Eventually they moved home plate out to make it more neutral. In Houston, the Astrodome was a difficult HR park. Eventually the Astros brought the fences in. More recently, the LF fence at Comerica was brought in because it was too hard to hit HRs to left. Over the years Royals Stadium, Busch Stadium, and the Oakland Coliseum were all changed to increase HRs and scoring.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A couple quick points.

                        We primarily discuss ballpark dimensions and how they hurt/help hitters. Perhaps because it's not as interesting, we rarely delve into how impacted pitchers are. For instance, Walter Johnson was helped considerably by Griffith. Does anyone consider that in their rankings of him? How much do people consider Grove being a lefty pitching in Shibe and Fenway?

                        Today's dimensions are becoming more and more ridiculous. But the parks are also built with state of the art technology, specifically honed to help the ball carry. Both the structure and the dimensions are important to note. How do you figure that in? Who knows. I just believe it plays a role.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
                          Ballparks have certainly become more "standardized" over the years. There used to be some huge differences between parks, and that has almost entirely disappeared. There are still parks which favor the hitter or the pitcher, and some parks are notably easy to hit HRs in. Gone are the parks which were truly difficult to hit HRs in. No modern park is comparable to Griffith Stadium or Forbes Field. Oddly-shaped parks, with deep fences in one direction and very close fences in another, have also become extinct except for Fenway.
                          Wrigley is unique as well cuz from the foul lines towards CF, the wall comes in towards home plate (like 20 ft. or so from the foul lines) which is why it has such short power alleys. Plus the basket makes it a little bit shorter as well. Is Wrigley the only one like that? I believe it is... So you could say the only stadium where the shortest distance from home plate to the fence is NOT down the line, right?

                          Also.... you won't get any weird calls about HRs at Wrigley with that basket since no one can reach over it. I like that since it's been happening lately.
                          Last edited by The Splendid Splinter; 05-29-2008, 01:47 AM.
                          "Back before I injured my hip, I thought going to the gym was for wimps."
                          Bo Jackson

                          Actually, I think they were about the same because I lettered in all sports, and I was a two-time state decathlon champion.
                          Bo Jackson

                          My sophomore year I placed 2nd, and my junior and senior year - I got smart and piled up enough points between myself and second place where I didn't have to run the mile.
                          Bo Jackson

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                            We primarily discuss ballpark dimensions and how they hurt/help hitters. Perhaps because it's not as interesting, we rarely delve into how impacted pitchers are. For instance, Walter Johnson was helped considerably by Griffith. Does anyone consider that in their rankings of him? How much do people consider Grove being a lefty pitching in Shibe and Fenway?
                            Great thread starter question, Randy....

                            How much should we consider it?

                            More to the point, I think, would be questioning how much of the difference in deadball vs. liveball isn't accounted for in vis-a-vis a supposedly "adjusted" stat like ERA+.

                            In truth, ERA+ probably shouldn't be used to compare pitchers from different eras. First, it doesn't adjust for handedness AT ALL. Second, with varying conditions comes the fact that certain skill sets are augmented or discounted. ERA+ doesn't account for this either.

                            Johnson did pitch ~8 years with the liveball, and had some tremendous years, even though he had lost most the velocity off of his fastball after his 1920 injury. That velocity was what had purportedly made him who he was; like Alexander, Grove, Feller, and other greats to come, he proved he could still be outstanding without throwing a fastball at or exceeding 95mph.

                            Does the information exist for Johnson or Grove's performance by park? Well, obviously it exists, but has anyone compiled it? I'd love to see how Johnson did at Shibe and Fenway, and how Grove did over the course of his career at Griffith....

                            But still, for the majority of his career at Griffith, homers were basically a non-event for right handed hitters before 1919, when the ball was changed.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by csh19792001; 05-29-2008, 04:33 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's a question for the group...

                              Ceteris Paribus, how many homers would Barry Bonds have hit playing in Babe Ruth's parks? Let's presume he hits all of his HR and near HR ball the same distance....

                              Comment

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