Matt Cerrone cites the Bill James Handbook to point out that it was 10 percent easier for right-hand hitters to hit home runs at Citi Field than in other National League parks.
Cool. And Cerrone is right that the Mets should stress this type of information when pursuing free agents. I’ve covered this before; there’s just not much evidence to suggest Citi Field diminishes offense nearly as much as it is purported to.
Still — and this is why I need to get that book — I’d love to see if there’s a way to figure out the tendencies of specific hitters who performed better at Citi Field. I know the handbook assesses hitter tendencies, and I wonder if the right-handed hitters that fared better at Citi were mostly right-handed pull hitters.
In the comments section from my post on Citi Field a few weeks ago, Sam Page from Amazin’ Avenue pointed out that David Wright hit about 10 balls in Citi that would have been homers at Shea, according to HitTracker Online.
I love HitTracker, but I’m still not willing to go all in on its ability to judge park effects, especially since Wright struggled to hit home runs on the road as well.
But it does look to the eye as though guys who traditionally spray the ball around, like Wright, might be hurt (in their home-run totals, at least) by Citi’s cavernous right-center field gap while a pull-hitting righty bat might be able to take advantage of the relatively short fences in left and left-center.
And HitTracker paints an interesting picture in regards to the two big free-agent left fielders this offseason. Here’s Matt Holliday’s home-run chart from 2009:
And here’s Jason Bay’s:
I’m not certain what this means, if anything. Holliday’s homers travel further than Bay’s on average, but he spreads them around a lot more. Bay is far more pull-heavy.
Of course, Bay played half his games in Boston with the Green Monster making a tempting target in left field, and at least a few of those wouldn’t have gone out of Citi Field, or Busch Stadium and Oakland Coliseum, where Holliday played.
Home runs aside, Holliday is younger than Bay and a far superior all-around player, and so in a vacuum, the Mets would be much better served to sign Holliday.
But the offseason market is a fluid thing, and if there appears to be a lot more competition for Scott Boras-client Holliday and Bay’s stock drops, the Mets might want to at least consider how Bay’s pull power would play at their home park.
He’s not worth nearly, nearly as much as Holliday is in dollars or years, but he’s still a very good power hitter, and I would guess he’s the type that would succeed at Citi Field.