The New York Mets are moving the outfield fences at Citi Field closer to home plate and lowering the height of the home-run line to increase offense in the three-year-old-stadium.
The team will move the left- and right-field fences in by as much as 12 feet and reduce the home-run line to eight feet, the team announced on its Twitter page. The alterations will add roughly 100 seats atop the left-field wall and expand the outdoor eating area in right field.
The Mets haven’t finished higher than fourth since moving into the $800 million stadium in 2009. The club hit 108 home runs last season, fifth lowest in Major League Baseball. Since 2009, the Mets have hit an MLB-low 331 home runs.
“We’re not looking necessarily to gain an advantage,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said last month 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.”
The field’s current dimensions are 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 from the plate.
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 ballpark in the universe, that’s a home run,” Dickey told the newspaper.
The Mets have hit 14 fewer home runs in the last three seasons than the next closest team, the Houston Astros. The New York Yankees, who also moved into a new stadium in 2009, have hit 667 in the same period, more than twice the Mets’ total.
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.
The Mets wouldn’t be the first team to move the outfield 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, according to the team website.