Like most baseball fans, I watched in wonder as the New Yankee Stadium opened and immediately turned into... a hitter's park? Small sample sizes be damned, the place has already recorded 20 home runs in 4 games. With the Oakland
Green-and-gold performance aside, there are probably hundreds of engineering students and professionals champing at the bit to determine the cause for the Bronx power spike. The Yankees have undoubtedly had their own studies done as well prior to construction, but it's so curious that the ball just flies to right even though the old and new stadiums have the same orientation, and are only several hundred feet apart. Players and coaches are already blaming the phenomenon on prevailing winds, which appear to be a bigger factor in the new digs than the old digs. From an amateur perspective, there's an explanation for the wind problem. It's the Stadium's open layout.
Old Yankee Stadium has a small footprint, and was designed by Osborn Engineering to make the most of very limited space. That meant putting in the massive overhanging upper deck, narrow concourses and ramps, and walls everywhere. New Yankee Stadium was designed by
Over in Queens, Citi Field has racked up 10 HR's in 6 games. Its new orientation (NE instead of Shea's ENE) and cavernous RF makes Citi Field a pitcher's park more in the mold of PETCO or AT&T than any other East Coast ballpark. Side note: The Mets' roster has no major lefty bats other than Carlos Delgado, who will soon be a free agent.
To understand the big difference between the two parks, I've constructed a quick overlay of New Yankee Stadium's field over Citi Field.
Even without the weird notch (pointless affectation) in Citi's RF, it can nearly envelop New Yankee's field.
I haven't had a chance to see every homer hit at New Yankee so far, but from what I could gather at least 3 landed in the RF first row, including Jorge Posada's controversial pinch hit job earlier today. None of those would've gone out at Citi Field, and it could be argued that Old Yankee would've contained those flies as well. The Yankees claim that New and Old have the same dimensions, so what gives? It'll be some time before we know. One other thing about the environment: In only one of the four games so far has the temperature been above 70 degrees at first pitch.
Historically, teams have averaged a 1 HR/game, with the trend fluttering above 1 during the steroid era. If this trend doesn't settle down during the season, the Yanks will have major problems grooming and signing pitchers. Big parks like Safeco and Comerica had their fences brought in over time, just like Old Yankee Stadium. It's much harder to expand a bandbox. For now, some of us can delight in the horrified looks on the Yankees' brass as they realize their new home has just become Arlington or Denver.