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New Dimensions Will Reduce OPACY HR by 50+ per Year

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The Orioles released some new photos of the now (nearly) complete left field wall renovations at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. As with anything these days, there are plenty of opinions out there, both positive and negative. Some are very concerned about the potential for player injuries due to the 90-degree cutout in left-centerfield, but to those people I would simply remind them of the same area at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

 

PNC Park
(digitalballparks.com)

(image)

Maybe that’s slightly less dramatic than the new cutout at The Yard, but it’s the same basic idea and I don’t remember hearing about a rash of injuries from players running into the wall up in french fries-on-sandwiches land. This reminds me a bit of the debate about quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson who “get hurt more” because they run, when most quarterback injuries occur in the pocket (as Jackson’s did in 2021). Outfielders run into walls. If you don’t like the aesthetics of the new wall, or dislike it because it represents a change to the game’s most perfect venue, that’s fine. But there’s no need to make up reasons to hate on it. Personally, I feel a pang of painful nostalgia upon seeing it, as I had season tickets in Row 8 of Section 82 for years, and those seats are gone now.

Let’s talk about how it might impact the play on the field though. Research done by MLB’s Mike Petriello & others has revealed that The Yard will see about fifty fewer home runs per season.

Still, it’s clear that if we look over the last four seasons, we can at least get to a rough idea of how many home runs might be lost…It’s one hundred and ninety-six. That’s the estimate, based on Statcast data, across the last four seasons, of home runs hit in Baltimore that would have remained in the field of play under the 2022 dimensions, and remember that it would be well above 200 if the 2020 season had been a full-length campaign.

So 196 over four seasons, but since 2020 featured only 33 home games, that’s 196 over 276 games, which translates to about 58 per season.

The MLB.com team went a bit further, researching how much the changes would have effected the Orioles’ AL East opponents during games at The Yard, had they been in place since 2018.

Eighty of those home runs were hit by Orioles batters. One hundred and sixteen were hit against Orioles pitching, which kind of tells you why this is happening in the first place. If you, like us, figured this would explain all of Gleyber Torres’ 2019 dominance in Baltimore, it doesn’t; only three of his homers would have come back (two in ’19, one in ’18). But, so far as the AL East rivals go, the Yankees are definitely the team that is going to suffer the most here.

Blue Jays: Loss of 7 home runs (14 hit, 7 allowed)
Rays: Gain of 3 home runs (15 hit, 18 allowed)
Red Sox: Loss of 3 home runs (11 hit, 8 allowed)
Yankees: Loss of 20 home runs (26 hit, 6 allowed)

(Of COURSE the Rays would have gained instead of lost. Of course.)

So, when you go to Oriole Park this season and your buddy starts complaining about the new left field wall, just kindly point out that the change serves to screw over the Yankees. That’s sure to cheer up any O’s fan.

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