Castellanos had strong words about the Detroit Tigers home field before being traded to the Cubs, does his performance in Chicago justify those claims?
In late July, prior to being traded to the Chicago Cubs, Nicholas Castellanos publicly called Comerica Park a “joke” due to the dimensions of the Detroit Tigers’ home field. Given how his numbers have spiked since being traded to Chicago, it may be fair to concede that Castellanos had a solid point.
Castellanos’ numbers before and after the trade
Prior to being traded to Chicago, Castellanos was hitting .273 with 11 home runs over 100 games. In his 31 games with the Cubs, he is hitting .346 with 12 home runs. It goes without saying that the Cubs are a better team, and Castellanos is excited to be playing for a contending team. Is attitude alone enough to explain this huge spike in production, however?
There is no doubt that being on a new team and a new environment can have an impact on a player’s performance, just look at Manny Machado’s numbers this year after his trade to San Diego. The interesting thing is that, while most players take some time to adapt to their new team, Castellanos has performed considerably better with his new team.
Wrigley’s dimensions compared to Comerica’s
Taking what Castellanos said into consideration, I researched the dimensions of Wrigley compared to Comerica. Wrigley field is 355 feet to left field, 353 feet to right field, 368 feet in the gaps, and 400 ft. to center field. Comerica’s dimensions are 345 feet in Left Field, 420 feet in Center Field, and 330 feet in Right Field. Comerica also has some of the deepest gaps in the game, as the 420-foot wall stretches across center field it makes the gaps progressively deeper than in other parks.
This basically means that any ball that isn’t hit directly to left or right field has to travel a considerable distance further to exit the park. As a result of this, many balls hit in the vicinity of center field will result in 400-420 foot flyouts that would be home runs in Wrigley Field and most other parks. This is a problem that Castellanos has not had since joining the Cubs.
Is the complaint justified after looking at the stats?
There is no doubt that players hit fewer home runs in Comerica Park, and there is no doubt that Castellanos has seen a huge spike in his numbers since joining the Cubs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is going to agree. Every ballpark is different and has different dimensions and dynamics. Since Comerica is more difficult to hit home runs in, it should be better to pitch in. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an issue of consistency when it comes to offensive statistics.
The main concern for Detroit should be recruiting offensive players. Just like it is hard to get pitchers to want to come to Colorado, offensive players might trend away from Detroit after hearing Castellanos’ comments and seeing how much better his numbers got after he left. Castellanos is not the only person to have launched a complaint either, Detroit’s future hall-of-famer, Miguel Cabrera, has also spoken out saying that he believes the field should be reduced to 400 feet in center. This isn’t the best look for Detroit when recruiting offensive talent.
If the Detroit Tigers were to change the dimensions of the park, they wouldn’t be the first ones. The Houston Astros removed a hill from their center field and moved the wall in about 20 feet. The New York Mets also reduced the length of their park last year. While it certainly is not necessary, it may be in Detroit’s best interest to take a look at their options, even moving the wall in from 420 to 410 feet would make a difference. What do you think?