Everyone has a theory about the new, homerific Yankee Stadium — even meteorologists, who seem almost offended by the suggestion that the weather is to blame. Now, the weathermen have come to a conclusion: "Walls," they say, "not weather."
Last month, AccuWeather's Henry Margusity suggested that the weather in New York had actually been ill-suited to home runs: cooler temperatures, denser air, etc. Yesterday, Tim Buckley buttressed the widely held view that the shorter dimensions in right field are to blame, calculating that 19 percent of the home runs hit this year would not have cleared the walls in the old stadium:
In right field, the newfound homer haven, the wall structure is slightly different than the old park. The main difference involves curvature. The gentle curve from right field to center field seen in original Yankee Stadium has largely been eliminated at the new stadium. This is due in large part to the presence of a manual scoreboard embedded within the wall. Losing this curvature has resulted in a right field that is shorter by 4-5 feet on average, but up to 9 feet in spots.
Not only is the famed short porch even shorter in the new stadium, but the walls themselves are not as tall. In the old ballpark, the walls in right field stood at a height of approximately 10 feet. ... The new outfield fences only rise to a height of 8 feet, adding to the ease hitting a home run to right.
Taking into account the dimensions of the field and wall height, AccuWeather.com has calculated that 19 percent (20 out of 105) home runs would not have flown out of the old stadium. If the first 29 games are any indication, 293 home runs will be hit by the end of the year at the New Yankee Stadium, just short of the record of 303 home runs hit at Denver's Coors Field in 1999. If this is the case, as many as 56 home runs could be attributed to the size of the new playing field.
Buckley, taking care to point out that "there has been no consistent pattern observed in the wind speed and direction that would lead to an increase in home runs so far," suggests the stadium may soon start playing even shorter. His forecast: "[B]alls will begin to fly farther and farther as the mercury begins to rise."