Seattle Mariners Will Adjust Safeco Field Dimensions to Make It More Hitter Friendly
Since becoming the home of the Seattle Mariners in 1999, Safeco Field has been known as a pitcher-friendly ballpark. This may not ring true starting with the 2013 season as it has been decided and announced that portions of the outfield wall will be moving closer to home plate. After 13 seasons in Safeco, this will be the first changes to the dimensions of the playing field.
Executive Vice President and General Manager Jack Zduriencik said, "Our goal was to create an environment that is fair for both hitters and pitchers. Considering the current field dimensions as well as the climate in and around Safeco Field, we feel this will be accomplished with this new layout."
As you can see in the picture above (click the image to enlarge), the right field wall is the only portion that will remain the same. The left field corner will not only be brought in 10 feet, but the hand-operated scoreboard will no longer be in play. Left/center field, or the power alley, will see the most drastic adjustment going from a DEEP 390+ feet to 378 feet. While center field to right/center field will be moved just four feet closer to home plate.
Now, back to the left field corner and the hand-operated scoreboard. That will be relocated to above left field as part of seating modifications. A bigger King's Court for Felix Days, possibly? We will have to wait for that answer as those modifications will be announced at a later date. By moving the hand-operated scoreboard, the wall will drop from 16-feet to eight feet, making it the same height from foul pole to foul pole.
The M's ranked last in the American League in scoring, home runs, and batting average at home this season through 79 games. Yet on the road, they are sixth in scoring, tied for sixth in home runs, and ninth in batting average. This trend is also noticeable for opposing hitters, who have averaged league-lows in runs and batting average at Safeco and the second-to-lowest home run production this season. Only twice in the 13 full seasons since the park opened have the Mariners hit for a higher average at home than on the road, and three times they have hit more home runs at home than in road games.
Here is a simple breakdown of the changes:
In the left field corner:
- The distance down the left field foul line remains the same at 331-feet.
- Instead of jutting out quickly to 341-feet, the wall will jut out to 337-feet.
- The hand-operated scoreboard will be moved, and as a result, the height of the outfield wall will be eight-feet from foul pole to foul pole.
- From the left field corner to the left field power alley, the wall will be moved in four-feet.
- The distance at the left field power alley will decrease from 390-feet to 378-feet.
- From left center to straightaway center field, the distance the wall will be moved in will vary from four-feet to a maximum of 17-feet. At straightaway center field, the distance will decrease from 405-feet to 401-feet.
- From straightaway center to the right center power alley, the wall will move in four-feet. The distance at the power alley will decrease from 385-feet to 381-feet.
- From the right field power alley to the right field line, the dimensions remain the same.
Do you think these new dimensions will help the Mariners in the next season or are there bigger problems that need to be addressed? Leave your thoughts on this announcement in the comments section below.