FanPost

On flyballs, and fences

No fancy words, no clever meta-commentary about the writing process, no deep statistical analysis here (because no real stats will be involved!). Just a link, some explanation, a question, and my thoughts on it.

The link: MLB Gameday BIP Location.

Explanation: I'm using this to look at just the fly balls that have been fielded at Safeco Field, in 2012, to count the ones at the warning track. (You can too, just plug in Safeco Field into the "Show hits from" and "Display on" parts of the tool.)

What I am looking at, specifically, are the about 11 fly ball outs that were fielded at the warning track. Perhaps 13 if you count a couple on the edge of the grass; let's assume superior defense snags 'em. So of those 11, when I quickly plug those into the player search on the site, I come up with Ackley (1), Smoak (2), Ichiro (1), Saunders (1), Seager (2)... and that's it among the regulars. Montero doesn't even have one out there.

I am not bothering to look at pop outs, as they're nowhere close to the warning track obviously. Nor at line outs, as there's no data on whether or not they would have cleared the fence and only one near the track anyway. I am also not looking at similar plotting for singles, doubles or triples, because as the tool itself tells me, these dots here are where the ball was fielded, not where it landed.

Question: From this little bit of searching, is it reasonable to say that if the fences were moved in by the width of the warning track (i.e. by 12 feet, all the way around the outfield), the M's would have had an extra 7 home runs at Safeco so far this season, and their opponents 4?

Thoughts: If the answer is "yes", then I really don't see what the hell the big deal is about moving fences in, since all it could have gained them this year is one extra homerun (so 1 to 4 runs) every 4 games. Someone a lot handier than me with the math can figure out what that does to bump up team wOBA, team wRC+, etc.

What's the back-of-napkin math for runs to expected wins - isn't it something like 10 runs averaged by the team nets them 1 extra expected win? So even if every one of those extra homeruns is a grand slam, that's 28 runs... so not even an extra 3 wins.

(I suppose there's some argument to be attempted that in those games where fly outs turn into home runs, there's also potential for rallies to start, for losses to turn into wins to build momentum on, for in-game situations to be different so guys are getting pitched differently... but that quickly goes down a squishy, subjective, no-data-involved, grit-and-hustle, magical thinking kind of road that LL frowns upon. And which is no fun to argue, because really, it's in the same realm as "Ichiro could hit 20 HRs a season just like in batting practice if he wanted to" kind of goofiness.)

And my butchering statistics aside, moving the fences in more than 12 feet gets into turning it into Fenway Park or something; 12 feet in all around turns it into 378-390-375 going from left center to center to right center, as it is.

Unless I'm way oversimplifying this, just moving the fences in is barking up the wrong tree. Closing in part of left field to counteract the Royal Brougham overpass effect, as suggested previously by Sec 108, seems a better direction. So does developing, trading for and/or buying better players overall.

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