When it comes to determining the Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums that are the most hitter-friendly, plenty of sluggers would opt for their home fields, where the visiting team always needs to make more adjustments than the hosts.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates opened up Forbes Field, for instance, much was made of one of the deepest outfield alleys of any park in any era – the 462-foot mark to center field – that presented opportunities to hitters and challenges to fielders unaccustomed to standing nearly a tenth of a mile apart during a game.
As baseball park design has evolved over the past couple of decades – in some ways, the newer parks are both a throwback to the brick-fenced days of old, with more human proportions — fans and pundits alike have often classified the spaces as either pitcher- or hitter-friendly.
Here are a few of the former variety:
Yankee Stadium: The newly renovated House that Ruth Built must have had hitters salivating once they got a glimpse of the right- and left-field porches: Just 314 feet down the right field line and 318 to the left-field pole. Translation? Routine fly balls in other baseball parks would easily clear the fences at Yankee Stadium. As of July 6, 2014, the ballpark was leading the majors in number of home runs per game, at 1.785 per home contest versus away. AT&T Park in San Francisco, by contrast, has given up just .582 round-trippers per home game when compared to contests on the road. A factor greater than 1.000 is said to favor the hitter.
Rogers Centre: Generous dimensions and an artificial turf surface have resulted in the home of the Toronto Blue Jays being considered hitter-friendly. Runs per home vs. away game have averaged 1.126 in 2014. Home runs? 1.441 when at home as opposed to away.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington: The mixture of low atmospheric humidity combined with winds that, to pitchers’ chagrin, always seem to blow toward the fences has resulted in the home of the Texas Rangers being one of the majors’ more hitter-friendly parks.
Coors Field: Speaking of low humidity, Coors Field is also on the hitter-friendly list – but also because of the park’s high altitude, which area golfers have long-known allows for clubbing down, sometimes by two numbers. The Colorado Rockies even use a humidor to add moisture to game balls to reduce any local advantage.
Of course, with enough practice in the batting cage, any park can become a hitter’s park. Even that modest parcel of grass known as your backyard.