The New York Mets are considering changing Citi Field’s outfield walls to increase the number of home runs hit in the three-year-old stadium.
General Manager Sandy Alderson, speaking in St. Louis where the Mets are playing a series against the Cardinals, said the team has studied statistics from the ball park and is “taking a very serious look” at alterations.
The Mets haven’t finished higher than fourth since moving into the $800 million stadium in 2009. The club has 102 home runs, fourth lowest in Major League Baseball. Since 2009, the Mets have hit an MLB-low 325 home runs.
“We’re not looking necessarily to gain an advantage,” Alderson said on the Mets’ website. “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spends half its time there.”
Alderson didn’t discuss specific changes, and said that the team will make a final decision no later than October. Citi Field is 335 feet down the left-field line, 408 feet to center and 330-feet down the right-field line, according to the team’s website. The wall is 16 feet high in most places, and has a deepened recess in right-center that measures 415 feet.
After an Aug. 21 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey blamed the field’s dimensions for denying teammate Jason Bay a go-ahead seventh-inning home run, the New York Post reported. The ball hit off the top of the left-field wall.
“Any other ball park in the universe, that’s a home run,” Dickey told the newspaper.
The Mets have hit 17 fewer home runs in the last three seasons than the next closest team, the Houston Astros. The New York Yankees, who also moved into their new stadium in 2009, have hit 656 in the same period.
The Mets wouldn’t be the first team to move the outfield - run walls in a new stadium. In 2003, the Detroit Tigers made changes to three-year-old Comerica Park, moving the fence in left-center 25 feet closer to home plate, the team said on its website.
The Mets and their opponents have combined for 99 home runs through 75 games at the Flushing Meadows stadium this year, according to the team’s website. That number is on pace to finish below the 111 combined home runs at the park in 2010 and 130 in 2009.
Mets third baseman David Wright averaged about 29 home runs in his final three seasons in Shea Stadium, the team’s home before Citi Field. In three years in the new stadium, the five-time All-Star is averaging about 18 home runs.
Alderson didn’t specify any players most affected by the new stadium, and said that a part of the decision was in the fans’ best interest.
“To some extent, it’s a question of entertainment,” he said. “I think offense is appealing. Offense sells.”
He said changes would result in more home runs, fewer doubles and roughly the same amount of triples. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, set to become a free agent after this season, leads baseball in triples even after two stints on the disabled list.
Alderson said the four-time All-Star may be affected if the Mets make the changes.
“He might need to slide at third a little more often,” Alderson said.