Friday, July 22, 2005

My, What Big Gaps You Have!

Barry and Boz, the Woodward and Bernstein of the sports section, tried measuring the field dimensions the other day. Someone from the management caught them and kicked them off the field, but not before agreeing to have the measurements surveyed.

The result? The posted dimensions were off. Way off.

The 380 gap in left-center is actually 395, just as it is in right-center. But what's 15 feet between friends?

They did find, however, that the centerfield measurement was wrong, but in the other direction. It's actually only 408, not the marked 410.

This is something that we sort of instinctively knew. I can only think of one or two balls that have gone out of the park from gap to gap. And in Boz' column from the other day, he noted that there's only been one opposite-field homerun in the park.

One thing that the article doesn't address that I think needs mentioning is the wind currents. My seats are in right field, right near the foul pole. I have a pretty good angle on seeing the flight of the ball.

Balls that are hit high (towering flies instead of liners) seem to hang up in the wind and get knocked down. I'm assuming the wind swirls in the bowl, and sweeps down off the face of the seats there. And the effect has certainly been dramatic on a number of balls this season.

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One final note on the column. Barry's a good writer, but he makes a mistake with his statistics here. He notes that the Great American Ballpark has yielded the most home runs this season, RFK the least.

He's right in a technical sense, but it's the wrong stat to use to convey what he means.

The raw stat, as he uses it, doesn't account for the quality of the teams. The Reds, for example, do play in a homer-friendly park, but they're also a power-hitting team. Just taking a raw total of homers doesn't tell you much. You need to compare their home/road totals and the home/road totals yielded by their pitchers.

Look at the Rockies. I've seen a certain fat-necked TV pundit assert that GABP is a better hitters park than Coors Field because of that stat. He, as he usually is, is wrong.

The Coors Field numbers appear low because they're trotting out a young, mostly Triple-A lineup. They won't hit for power anywhere.

But if you look at their home/road splits, you'll see that they're hitting for more power at home, just as you'd expect.

And if you make the necessary adjustments and twirl your abacus, Coors would still be the homer champ.

If you make the same calculations, at least from what I've seen because I've forgotten how to even turn on a calculator, RFK is the champ in the other direction.

But we already knew that. Our eyes told us that.