Mets move in fences at Citi Field for second time
Mired in a streak of six straight losing seasons and hoping to boost offense, the New York Mets are moving in their fences at Citi Field for the second time.
The Mets unveiled the new dimensions Tuesday, which bring in the fences 3-to-11 feet in front of the bullpens in right field. Right-center field will be 380 feet, down from 390 the past three years and 415 in the ballpark's first three seasons.
"Trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation, so it's not something that's discussed in the clubhouse, it's not discussed in the media, it's not something our fans have to talk about," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We want the ballpark to be fair, but a few more home runs for us wouldn't be a bad thing, and a little more scoring is I think something most fans enjoy -- not all, not baseball purists by any means, but there aren't a lot of baseball purists left."
Speaking in front of the new fence on a blustery afternoon with the temperature below freezing, Alderson said the team's research projected there would have been 27 additional home runs this year under the new dimensions. The Mets would have hit 17, including nine by Curtis Granderson and four by Lucas Duda.
According to STATS, Citi Field was last in the major leagues in home runs during its first three seasons with an average of 1.43 per game. The Mets cut the dimensions by as much as 12 feet after 2011 and lowered the fence height from 16 to 8 feet in left, and Citi Field jumped to 19th in home runs from 2012-14 at 1.79.
New York has built its team around pitching, with Matt Harvey returning next year following Tommy John surgery to join NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler as the nucleus of a young rotation. Alderson acknowledged some might find bringing in the fences "counterintuitive."
"I'd say there is less of a conscious effort to build the team around pitching than would be apparent," he said. "That's what our strength is, and so that's something we want to take advantage of. But it's all relative. So if we have the kind of pitching that won't be adversely affected by a change like this and our hitters can take advantage of it, then from a comparative standpoint we're better off."
Because the changes are in right field, they may not restore David Wright's power. He hit 70 home runs in 4 1/2 seasons at Shea Stadium but has just 46 in six years at Citi Field.
"I'm not sure how you can argue this is being done for David's benefit," Alderson said. "This is being done for the benefit of our team as a whole. Other players will benefit far more than David."
Unlike the last change, this one is not likely to create additional seats. Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said the space behind the new fences was an "oasis" between the field and the bullpens.