I counted four more HRs tonight if fences were already in
Not saying this will happen all the time at Safeco Field when they bring in the fences next year, but tonight’s 6-1 win over the Angels certainly would have been greatly impacted by the 2013 configuration that was announced today.
Casper Wells hit two deep fly balls to the left-center gap where the fence will come in the most next year. Instead of a two-run HR in the third and a solo shot in the seventh, he wound up with two fly outs to the track in an 0-for-4 day.
Michael Sanders ripped a two-run double to left center in the fourth that would also have surely been a three-run HR instead.
The Mariners did get a legit solo shot from Kyle Seager in the first inning, but could have had four home runs in the revised park.
Anaheim also had one shot to the wall by Hank Conger that Michael Saunders caught up against the fence in the fourth. I’m presuming that would have been gone as well, though who knows, maybe Saunders goes up high for a great leaping catch. But in the sake of fairness, we’ll give Conger that one.
And that would have made tonight’s game a 10-2 win with five home runs instead of 6-1 game with one home run. No wonder Seattle’s hitters were excited today, as you can read in my story about their reaction to the fence news.
Either way, the Mariners win this particular game, it’s just a matter of by how much. And how many long balls go on the stat sheet.
“Ironic, huh?” manager Eric Wedge noted of what might have been in this particular game.
Wells took the high road, saying he definitely crushed the second shot and thought it was a no-doubter, but he wasn’t lamenting the current fences.
“I don’t make excuses,” he said. “If I was a little stronger, they’d have got out.”
And, yeah, there’ll be games when the opposing team is the one getting the new home runs and not the Mariners. These new fences will play both ways.
But will Safeco suddenly be a launching pad? I don’t think so and neither does Mariners assistant GM Jeff Kingston, who was part of the committee that studied every ball hit at Safeco the past few years and came up with the new fence recommendations.
Kingston says their study showed 30-40 balls each year — for both teams combined — that would have been home runs in the new configuration in the previous few seasons. The Mariners have 54 home runs at home this season, so another 15-20 would certainly be a healthy increase, but not a crazy figure by any means and not the kind of potential difference that was hinted at tonight.
Kingston also said the hand-operated scoreboard — which will be moved next year to lower the fence down the left-field line to a uniform 8-feet height along with the rest of the outfield walls — has only been hit a handful of times each season. So that change doesn’t figure to have a huge impact either.
All this does make for some interesting conversation and surely will be fascinating to watch play out next season. Until then, one more game at Safeco Field on Wednesday at 3:40 p.m. with the current fences so we can play the “would that be a home run next year?” game one more time.