In my personal opinion, the Baltimore Orioles ply in the premier venue for sports in America. That being Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And this being the park’s 30th anniversary season, some changes are coming.
The Orioles’ Operations and Analytics Department has come to the conclusion that the left field dimensions and the left field wall itself are doing more harm than anything else to the team. So in time for the start of the 2022 season they’re going to push the wall back, in some places by as much as thirty feet. And the wall itself will be raised by as much as five feet.
The Orioles were very quick to say that Camden Yards will still be a hitter’s park. And I feel that’s important. Despite the inaugural game being a 2-0 shutout (of Cleveland), Camden Yards has always been a hitter’s park. And I would submit that especially in the 30th anniversary season, it’s important to keep up the integrity of what the park has always been.
This isn’t the first time that the dimensions of the park will have changed. There was a season 15-20 years ago where they pushed the entire outfield wall back seven feet. But eventually that was corrected back because it made little to no difference.
I think you have to remember that Camden Yards was molded to fit the hitting style of Cal Ripken Jr. However at the time the Orioles also had other guys who were great hitters. And their lineup got better still in the years after the park opened. So for a good number of years, the O’s took full advantage of the dimensions of their home yard.
But in recent years it’s been opposing teams who’ve gotten the upper hand. How often have we seen Boston or New York hitters slide balls into the first or second row? Balls that would have been caught in other ballparks? That won’t happen as often now. The wall will be further back, and it’ll be higher.
The one question is how will this affect guys like Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, and Cedric Mullins? Maybe it does cut down on their homer totals just a bit. However I suspect that the analytics department took all of that into account when they made these recommendations. They probably arrived at those numbers because they maximized helping Oriole pitching, while minimizing the affect on Oriole bats.
It also serves to mention that this sort of thing could help the Orioles attract free agent pitching. If a pitcher knows he may not be giving up cheap homers, he might be more inclined to come to Baltimore. It’ll be interesting to see how the season plays out given these adjustments. Also, will they be adjusting the fields in Sarasota, so as to get their pitchers (and hitters) ready for the new dimensions? Time will tell.