The Detroit Tigers are finally making changes to their pitcher-friendly ballpark
Comerica Park's dimensions have been loathed for years by fans, Detroit Tigers hitters, and opposing hitters alike. Now, everyone is finally getting their wish.
The Detroit Tigers just announced changes to Comerica Park's dimensions that they plan to complete before Opening Day of the 2023 season. The changes include moving the center field wall in from 420 feet from home plate to 412 feet. They will also lower the walls throughout the ballpark, including lowering the center field wall from 8.5 feet to seven feet, lowering the wall in right-center with the out-of-town scoreboard from 13 feet to seven feet, and lowering the wall in right field from 8.5 feet to seven feet. The left field wall will remain unchanged in regards to dimensions.
In a press release, the team notes three outcomes they hope to achieve by making this changes. They are as follows:
1. Reward hitter outcomes on balls hit to the deepest parts of the park
2. Maintain the high number of extra-base hits on balls in play to the gaps, resulting in action on the basepaths
3. Lowered wall height encouraging more electric defensive plays such as home run robberies
In addition, president of baseball operations Scott Harris had this to say in regards to the changes:
"“This has been a topic of conversation for quite some time within our organization. We’re confident that this plan accomplishes our goals of improving offensive conditions on the hardest hit balls, while maintaining Comerica Park’s unique dimensions and style of play. These updates come after a great deal of research and feedback from all stakeholders in and around the organization, including our fans, players and front office. The outfield wall changes, combined with new rules from Major League Baseball in place this season, have the potential to create even more excitement and on field action for years to come.”"- Scott Harris
Additionally, there have been some changes to the measurements to some of the outfield walls. The wall in center field was actually measured at 422 feet in preparation for these changes, which is why the team says it is moving the wall in 10 feet as opposed to eight. The left field wall will also be relabeled as 342 feet from home plate instead of the previous 345 feet to reflect the more accurate measurement.
Phew. That's a lot to take in. Let's go over these changes and analyze them a bit.
Going from 420 to 412 is dead center is perfect. It's still deep, but not too deep. It still allows for Comerica Park to be a pitcher-friendly ballpark, while also being a bit more forgiving to hitters.
Lowering the wall heights is a nice change as well. The deep gaps will remain unchanged, so it'll still going to be somewhat difficult to hit one out to that part of the yard. But it's a little easier now, and that's what most players have been asking for.
Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase was one of the more vocal players on the issue last season, especially when Riley Greene had a deep flyout to center field that would have been a home run in nearly every other park in a game late last season. Said fly ball would have given the Tigers the lead late in the game had it left the yard.
Here's what Haase had to say on the new changes, per Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press:
""I think it just makes it more fair. It's obviously still going to be a bigger park. The dimensions weren't the biggest thing guys were frustrated about. It was the tall walls. ... It's going to be a more predictable ballpark.""- Eric Haase
Haase pretty much sums up most of the player frustration with the park's dimensions. It wasn't just the dimensions themselves, it was the height of the walls. It was hard to hit a home run when combining those two factors. It would have been different is the Tigers played in say, Colorado, where the air is a lot thinner, thus the ball travels a lot easier. But they obviously play in Detroit, so it doesn't really make sense to have a park as deep as Comerica's previous dimensions.
Harris had mentioned before that he preferred to have a ballpark where both hitters and pitchers were happy, With these changes, the Detroit Tigers seem to have accomplished that goal.
Don't expect offense to explode here in 2023. This is will still be a ballpark that favors pitchers. After all, the Detroit Tigers don't have a ton of quality hitters on their roster at the moment, and we all know that's what matters most.
But these changes to the park's dimensions make it a bit more fair to hitters now. Hopefully this be the end of flyouts to dead center that would be home runs in every other park.