Let’s take a look at new Marlins Park and modified Citi Field and see how they’re playing so far this season.
If you haven’t noticed, the Marlins’ stadium plays very big. Think of it as the opposite of new Yankee Stadium; a brand new, huge ballpark, as opposed to one that’s small and very much favors hitters.
It started with a masterful performance by Cardinals veteran Kyle Lohse, who shut down the Marlins in a 4-1 win in Miami’s home opener. According to ESPN’s park factors, Marlins Park ranks as the 25th most pitcher-friendly park when it comes to homers. The dimensions of the ballpark say it all - 334’ to left, 386’ to left-center, 422’ to center, 392’ to right-center and 335’ to right; compared to Sun Life Stadium, Marlins Park is at least 10’ deeper at all points, and in some points 30’ deeper. Needless to say, you need to really drive the ball to hit a home run in Marlins Park.
According to ESPN's park factors, Marlins Park has a homerun factor of 0.744, which definitely favors fly-ball pitchers. (A number under 1.000 is to the pitchers advantage, whereas a park factor over 1.000 is to the hitter’s advantage.) Only PETCO Park, AT&T Park, SAFECO Field, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and Citi Field limit the longball more. In terms of runs, Marlins Park is actually ranked 5th with a rating of 1.295; it’s a big stadium, so you will see your share of hits.
With this in mind, let's take a look at how the Marlins hitters and pitchers are handling the new park versus playing on the road. For one, Hanley Ramirez is actually hitting over .300 at home (.301) and he’s hitting an unspectacular .164 on the road. Ramirez does have 10 RBI at home and 10 RBI on the road though, but he seems to like the bigger park. Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton is hitting .243 at home, while his batting average is .288 on the road. He also has just one home run at home as opposed to four on the road. Anibal Sanchez actually has a better ERA on the road, but not by very much (2.77 ERA at home, 2.21 away); you can expect that to even out as the season progresses. Josh Johnson is still trying to make it all the way back to the ace he once was, but let's take a look at his splits in 2012. He has a 4.91 ERA at home and a 9.00 ERA on the road. He has also given up 27 hits at home, while only surrendering 21 on the road. The good news is that Johnson still hasn’t allowed a home run this season.
Citi Field was a pitchers paradise in 2010 and 2011, but the Mets organization decided to move the fences and reconfigure the dimensions of the ballpark. The previous dimensions from left to right were as follows (all in feet), 335-371-384-408-415-378-330. Citi field’s new dimensions from left field to right field are 335-358-385-408-398-375-330. Citi field currently has a run factor of 0.591 (lowest in the league) and a homerun factor of 0.554 (3rd lowest), but it does rank 19th in doubles (0.931) and 17th in triples (0.875).
Just like Marlins Park, the home opener at Citi field was a very low scoring game, with the Braves winning 1-0. Since then, teams have only scored more than five runs at Citi field four times (Mets once, Nationals once and Giants twice). David Wright leads the team with 14 RBI and should settle in around 90-100 if he can stay healthy. He's hitting .289 at home, whereas his batting average on the road is a spectacular .465. He has two home runs at home and one on the road. Wright has 5 RBI at home, as opposed to 9 on the road. Lucas Duda has a very mediocre .213 batting average at home, but he’s hitting .289 on the road. He also has only 4 RBI at home and 9 on the road.
Meanwhile, the pitchers are still benefitting from playing in Citi Field. Johan Santana has been spectacular at home, with a 1.90 ERA. He has struggled on the road, posting a 4.91 ERA. Finally, Jonathon Niese sports a 3.79 ERA at home and a 4.66 ERA on the road. He has allowed two home runs at home and two on the road.
With all of this in mind, remember that it’s still very early in the baseball season. I just wanted to examine how these two ballparks are playing up to this point.
Mac can be found on the forums as dmvincent, and you can also follow him on twitter @MacVincent1.