Padres Considering Bringing Fences In

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the Padres are currently considering adopting an adjustment in the dimensions of their home ballpark.

“We’re open-minded and we’re seriously considering it,” Padres interim CEO Tom Garfinkel said Tuesday.

“I do believe it is too extreme right now. It will still be a pitcher’s ballpark. But a hitter should be rewarded if he crushes it. And if a team is down 4-0, they should feel there is some hope. It’s just too extreme.”

Petco is, of course, well known as the best pitcher’s park in baseball, and especially so for right-handers who benefit from the amount of space in right-center field specifically. The 400 foot distance to right-center makes it the hardest place in baseball for a left-handed hitter to pull a home run. In fact, no stadium affects any other outcome as much as Petco deflates home runs by left-handed hitters. As Garfinkel notes, the park is just too extreme, especially in that specific area. Right-handed pull hitters can survive – which was part of the reason the Padres acquired Carlos Quentin – but left-handed pull hitters just have little chance of success in San Diego.

While it’s true that the park has given the team the ability to build up quality pitching staffs without expending too many resources on premium arms, the Padres ability to develop quality left-handed bats is severely compromised by the park they play in. Bringing in the fences in right-center field is probably in the best interest of the franchise.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


62 Responses to “Padres Considering Bringing Fences In”

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  1. gryfyn1 says:

    heck, just move the fences OUT and punt the HR category…..

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  2. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Aluminum bats!!

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  3. bowie says:

    heck, what?

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  4. dbake005 says:

    Heard they’re doing it this afternoon, all in an effort to bring Nationals HR rate back to normal.

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  5. dave says:

    PetCo games are unbelievably boring and I don’t understand why hitters don’t do more to change their approach when they’re there.

    Often I don’t get to see the baseball games until after I’ve put my children to bed– which will be 9:30pm or so here on the West Coast. So I go to mlb.com and often the only thing left is a game that’s tied 1-1 in the 10th inning in San Diego. Then Dick Enberg reads me a boring story and I go to sleep.

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  6. mikesavino85 says:

    I like them out. 1960s baseball. And also every game is a pitcher’s duel where one pitch can dramatically change the game because runs are at such a premium.

    It also gives the Padres fungible assets to trade away to other teams at the deadline/offseason. Want some “quality” middle relief? A “closer”? How about a “3rd” starter? Sure. The Padres will part with them for your prospects. And all the retread pitchers (Aaron Harang, Jon Garland, etc.) end up leaving the Padres with draft picks when they get signed by some other team.

    Its not in a vacuum. Moving the fences in hurts pitcher value. Mat Latos and Jake Peavy are not totally products of Petco but it certainly didn’t hurt.

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    • Bob says:

      I agree. Love pitchers battles!

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    • mat says:

      Do you honestly believe other teams do not look into these players to see if they are products of that stadium?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Mat Latos for Yonder Alonso, Edison Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger. No, I’d say there are definately teams that will over pay for pitchers with inflated stats. Latos is fairly young (not “YOUNG” but still a year pre prime) but not as good as the haul the Padres got.

        Considering the packages the Athletics got for their inflated pitchers also makes it seem like other teams don’t look into it as much as they should.

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  7. Marver says:

    Dave,
    In lieu of moving the fences in, the team could also increase the elasticity of the baseball using heat — like a reverse-humidor effect. That alternative method has been “discussed internally”, so I thought it could be interesting to discuss which method would make the most sense. On one hand, you have to physically alter the stadium (which probably has immense costs), and on the other hand you uphold the configuration of the ballpark (by theoretically moving all fences in an equal amount).

    Thoughts?

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      But changing the elasticity of the baseball wouldn’t just affect HRs, it would affect every single ball that gets hit. I think most people misunderstand the point of the humidor. It isn’t to make the balls less elastic or anything like that. It is simply to maintain the proper weight for the baseballs. With the amount of time they were spending in the low humidity environment, their weights were ending up below the approved range for MLB baseballs by the time they were used.

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      • Marver says:

        Effecting every ball hit is the whole point — or at least mine. It isn’t necessarily the dimensions in San Diego that make the place play so pitcher friendly; it’s the microclimate of the field. MLB has a very large range for the allowable elasticity of the core of a baseball, which can easily be manipulated to make the 334 sign in LF of PETCO mean 334 in a neutral environment, instead of the 342 that eight years worth of playing shows it to be.

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      • Big Jgke says:

        That’s the best explanation of the humidor I’ve ever seen. +1

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    • Drew says:

      I was thinking the same thing, but I wasn’t sure if such an invention existed. An anti-humidor for night games would be gravy. I really do enjoy the dimensions of Petco, just not how it plays at night.

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  8. jim says:

    >trade away adrian gonzalez
    >considering bringing the fences in a year later

    /scumbag padres

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  9. Jon L. says:

    I was at PetCo last night, and when Chad Tracy rolled a single through the middle to score two runs in the top of the seventh, there was definitely the feeling that the game was over. That’s partly due to PetCo, although it’s also the case that the Nationals and Padres trotted two anemic offenses out there to compete in a pitcher’s park.

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  10. short says:

    Next: Bringing in the fences in the Left-Center gap at Safeco field. Jason Vargas will probably be furious, but who’s afraid of that guy? He’s soooo cute! Yes he is!

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  11. Oliver says:

    quality pitching staffs>quality left-handed bats

    The success of any low-payroll team is their ability to exploit what competitive advantages they do have. Why would they give away a huge one?

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    • Dustin says:

      Well, if it adversely affects ticket sales and television ratings, it might not really be a competitive advantage.

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  12. Ira says:

    Interesting that they decided to do this after they traded RIzzo? Not very well-though-out.

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    • Stephen says:

      Actually, Moorad was pretty much the only person who was steadfastly against moving the fences in, and since he was CEO, they fences weren’t going to be moved. Now that he’s gone, the discussion is back on the table and it has the support of the manager, the GM, the new CEO, etc. I’ll be very surprised if the fences are moved in.

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  13. junker23 says:

    Have they really built any quality pitching staffs, though? Doesn’t really seem like their overall performance is too great, just some solid Petco-driven ERAs and whatnot.

    Padres Home ERAs (2008-2012): 2.57, 3.02, 2.92, 3.44, 3.65.

    Padres Road ERAs (2008-2012): 5.19, 3.87, 3.91, 5.39, 5.23.

    Average NL ERA (2008-2012): 3.58, 3.82*, 4.02, 4.19, 4.29.

    *Runs per game multiplied by .92. Couldn’t find 2011 NL ERA.

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  14. Keystone Heavy says:

    In all honesty, I would be disappointed if they did this. I’m not a Padres fan, but when I think of that franchise I think Petco Park. Making that park more nuetral would take away all remaining personality from that organization (at least from my perspective).

    On a less personal note, wouldn’t this hurt them from a competitive advantage standpoint? I would think that playing in an extreme pitchers park would be more of an equalizer against more talented/higher payroll teams than playing in a hitters park. Look at that 2010 team. They won 90 games on pitching alone. Pitching that their home park likely artifically enhanced. Could they have won 90 games in a more neutral park? Would having almost guaranteed supressed run scoring make it easier to, for example, beat the Pythag with many close games?

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    • deadpool says:

      More offense = more $$$

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        winning brings in more money than offense though. Guys who hit a lot of home runs don’t stay with small payroll teams. The Padres are small payroll.

        I personally want them to keep the fences where they are. They have an advantage and can build a farm by having lop sided trades. I love pitching too, but I think we (people who love pitching) are in the minority.

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  15. Mr Punch says:

    The Padres, like other teams, play half their games on the road. A squad tailored to the home field is likely to do well at home, and less well on the road; this is nice for the local fans when the team isn’t good, I guess, but probably reduces the chances of winning a championship of any kind.

    As a longtime Red Sox fan, I believe the team has benefited from the “normalization” of Fenway park, reducing the number of HRs. (The idea of signing a left fielder who could cover the larger areas in other parks has worked out less well.)

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    • Lorenzo says:

      In eight years at Petco, the Padres have been outscored at home six times. On the road, the Padres have outscored their hosts five times. Their best hitter, Chase Headley, a switch hitter, last year hit .243/.348/.326 at home, and .330/.399/.456 on the road. This year he’s hitting .233/.400/.349 at home, and .391/.444/.957 on the road. Petco is TOO EXTREME.

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  16. kid says:

    Mariners fans want to know, any way we can talk the company doing the Padres’ fences into a two-for-one?

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  17. Fiery Furnaces says:

    Want to know a big reason the Mets attendance is up? You can now see a home run in Queens. A big reason these over large stadiums are approved is because of the advantage they give the home team – when there are only a few in the league. When half the teams have gigantic stadiums, then the advantage disappears. And really, how useless is watching the Pads? I agree with the bedtime story analogy.

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    • DJLetz says:

      2011 Mets attendance: 29,000/game, 9th in NL
      2012 Mets attendance: 27,500/game, 10th in NL

      I mean, I like the new walls, but I don’t know where you get the impression that anyone’s shown up to the stadium so far this year. Hell, I don’t know that they sold out Opening Day.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        comparing attendance this early is a bad idea anyways. The ‘draw’ isn’t just the Mets. It’s also weekend/weekday, pitching matchup, the team they’re facing, etc. SSS rears it’s head again.

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      • meh says:

        They didn’t. There were quite a few empty seats. Hell, I went to two games this year where they sold thousand of tickets for $2.50 apiece, including a Santana/Strasburg duel where they combined for 17 strikeouts and 1 run between the two of them. They had 35,000 for that game, which was during Easter recess on a weekday afternoon.

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      • jpg says:

        Yeah I was at the game Tuesday night and stadium was, at best, half empty. Drawing 20K on a chilly Tuesday seems reasonable until you consider that Reyes was making his return and the mound matchup was Santana vs Johnson. I’m sure Mets brass was expecting a better turnout.

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  18. Booth says:

    Stuff like this always confuses me. Did they not realize how extreme it was when the built the park?

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    • Ben F says:

      The weird thing is that it’s not the ballpark dimensions so much as it is the humidity and cool temperature. So, when it’s an afternoon game, it plays like an extreme hitter’s park. But when it cools off in the afternoon and the breeze blows onshore, it dampens (pun intended) the hitting severely. Of course I could be making this up – I’d like to see the day/night splits.

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      • Oliver says:

        Ben, what you’re saying makes a ton of sense, but I can’t find any day/night data by ballpark.

        If you have a look here http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=b&team=SDP&year=2011 you’ll see that they do in fact have a better offensive showing during day games, but that data isn’t broken down by stadium as far as I can tell, so it’s all day games or all night games regardless of home/away.
        I wonder if that data is anywhere.

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    • Lorenzo says:

      Actually, they mis-read the weather. The ballpark was roatated 45 degrees to the left to make that building part of the LF foul pole. North is dead center field, and RF is northeast. The strongest winds are from the southwest toward the northeast, so they thought balls would fly out toward right and right center. Those strongest winds are during rainstorms, and San Diego’s rainy season is October-March during the off-season. Left center was made larger because left is a short 367′ instead of normal 380′. They missed the effect of ocean air altogether.

      Incidentally, if you visit, stay out of the first base stands at a day game. The rotation of the field moved the right field sun porch into the first base stands. At a day game, you’ll be looking into the sun. Remember that online photo of a guy with his cap on backwards, shielding his eyes? That was taken at Petco in the first base stands.

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      • Bubba says:

        Enjoyed the info Lorenzo. Did not realize they rotated the park to include the Western Metal Supply building in left.

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  19. JD says:

    In the 60’s a golf tournament was played in which the diameter of the cup was double in size…….know what happened? The good putters made more putts. Moving the fences in will only help make the scores higher and help the teams with better hitters. The Padres lead the league in walks and called third strikes…..that sounds like standing, not hitting

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  20. badgermaniac says:

    Call it the “Klesko konfiguration”

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  21. Scott says:

    If the Padres move the fences in, the Yankees should move theirs out by 50 feet.

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    • Donut3 says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      No room to move the fences out in right at Yankee Stadium. Like all ballparks back in the early 20th century, the original Yankee Stadium had to deal with its allotted area between streets, hence the short porch in right. The new Yankee Stadium, while across the street, still deals with the same issue of no space. There is literally no space for moving right field out, even in initial construction, unless you want the right field upper deck to hang over the IRT Woodlawn line elevated (4 train) on River Ave directly next to the right field upper deck.

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    • jim says:

      that might sound like a smart idea, except the yankees pitchers are 13th in FIP and 7th in pitcher WAR, while the padres are 22nd in wRC+ and 19th in batter WAR

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  22. When they move the fences in they can also add a bunch of empty seats … or some palm trees at least.

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    • adohaj says:

      ^lol

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    • Lorenzo says:

      WHEN, not if, they move in the right field fence, they’ll probably move the visitor’s bullpen behind it and get ’em out of the RF foul area. Behind right center is a kids’ sand box protected by a 12′ fence. they’ll probably put a shorter fence about 10′ in front of it. 401′ is a long way for a ballpark where the ball doesn’t carry.

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      • Luke G says:

        Petco is the only Major League Stadium that has one bullpen off the field and the other on it. This gives it a uniqueness. Why would they want to make it generic like other stadiums? It’s bullshit and I hate it. Keep the stadium as it is and spend some money on a winning product rather than blaming the fences thta opposing teams seem to cope with just fine. The fences (and subsequently the effect on their rotation’s ERAs) are the only thing that have stopped the Padres from looking like a AAA ballclub the last few years (although some would argue that they already play like one).

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      • Lorenzo says:

        Luke G, that uniqueness has a cost. a fielder running after a pop fly is in danger of tripping over the bullpen mound near the foul line and going head-first into a metal bullpen bench. A recent play involving the right fielder heading into the bullpen caused the relief pitchers to scatter, bumping into each other. The right fielder nearly collided with one of the relief pitchers who had been bumped. A bullPEN belongs behind a fence, PENned in, not on the playing field, and foul territory is part of the playing field.

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  23. adohaj says:

    I’d rather have every park extreme one way or another. It would add a new facet to the game.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      I always thought it’d be cool if a team build a modern version of the polo grounds. I don’t think I’d do it with a MLB team but it’d be a cool thing for a Minor League club. Playing MLB: The Show 2009 with the Polo grounds was fun. A little too carnie and hokie for MLB I think, but weird stadiums would be a nice draw for Minor Leagues.

      Design a stadium where there is a 6 feet section that shoots straight back 50 feet, another that juts in 50 feet. Crazy stuff. Probably rules against it though.

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  24. Steve Balboni says:

    Just get rid of the fences entirely. If you hit it past an OFer and under the seats you can score an inside the park job while the OFer runs into stanchions. Sign lots of fast, LD hitters and punish teams with lumbering OFers.

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  25. Randy says:

    They brought the left field fence in at Comerica Park in Detroit after just a few years and it seems to have been an improvement. If you do it right, fans hardly notice after about a year or so. When you have a park that large, only the elite home run hitters can reach that distance regularly and its hard to attract elite home run hitters via free agency. Let’s face it, nobody wants to sign as a free agent with the Padres and casual fans don’t care about small ball.

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  26. Catcher50 says:

    I’m reasonably sure that the rules prohibit such changes except between seasons, so that you have quite a bit of time to worry about it. Also, I don’t think that home runs, per se, add that much to attendance. Absent a winning team, they may add excitement, but people won’t just come out to see an extra HR.

    While it goes back a long time, when Frank Howard hit those upper deck shots in DC Stadium (now, RFK), they might have been exciting for those in attendance and may have amazed modern sluggers (as they did) when they saw the white seats at RFK, during the three years that the Nats played at RFK, seeing Strasburg, or Gio, or Zmann blow people away and getting a win in under 3 hours is much more likely to put fannies in the seats.

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  27. Luke G says:

    All this will do will remove the Padres’ excuse for why they can’t beat other teams. Every team that visits has to play in the same dimensions and they routinely beat the Padres so is it because the fences are far back or that the Padres have a rubbish product?

    And besides, it isn’t like the Padres have loads of power guys who are seeing fly balls fall 5-10 feet short every night. Jason Bartlett, Will Venable, Orlando Hudson and co. won’t be going to the home run derby any time soon.

    But most of all, I like the fences being far out. It makes the ballpark quirky. It makes it different to most other ballparks. Why would you want to make it the same as countless others? Embrace the gaps and stop whining!

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    • gloccamorra says:

      That ballpark is TOO quirky. They got a brick building for the left field foul pole, a couple bushes in the batter’s eye, some kind of playground to the right of that, a hillside a block away where people can lay on the grass and watch with binoculars, some kind of home run porch down the right field line, and two towers that seem to serve no purpose. That’s quirky enough for me!

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  28. Erik says:

    I think someone mentioned it earlier. Just get rid of the fences all together.

    Right now speed & defense comes cheap and is readily available, its the power guys that teams like San Diego struggle to develop and keep.

    Let the ball roll 450 feet and put up old school numbers of triples and inside the park homeruns.

    Maybe teams should be looking at their teams’ spray charts and adjusting the fences before every season… now that is a competitive advantage.

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  29. Moving in the fences to make it more attract able for FA batters makes some sense. But it’s not like FA pitchers are being signed to come and pitch in pitcher’s heaven.

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