This should come as no big surprise, but after discussing it all season long, the Mariners have decided to give their rebuilding offense a jumpstart in 2013 by moving in the fences at Safeco Field.
The biggest change will be from left-center to straightaway center, where the wall will be moved in anywhere from four to 17 feet.
From the left-field corner to the left-center power alley, the wall will come in four feet. Also, the hand-operated scoreboard that currently makes for a 16-foot-high wall to clear will be moved elsewhere, leaving the wall 8-feet-high.
The distance to the left-center power alley will decrease from 390 to 378 feet.
Straightaway center will decline from 405 to 401 feet.
From straightaway center to the right-center power alley will change four feet from 385 to 381.
“Our goal was to create an environment that is fair for both hitters and pitchers,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a release. “Considering the current field dimensions as well as the climate in and around Safeco Field, we feel this will be accomplished with this new layout.”
Like I said, this move comes as no surprise, given the slow progress by Mariners hitters compared to other parts of the rebuilding plan.
The Mariners came off their recent road trip with an OPS+ of 98 for the season away from home — just two percent lower than league average.
At Safeco Field, the Mariners entered last night at an OPS+ of 67 — 33 percent below league average and one of the worst home performances in MLB history.
Clearly, if the Mariners can get themselves something looking like a league average offense overall next year — they are currently 11 percent below average — it might fast-forward their rebuilding by a year or more.
That’s if everything goes according to plan.
We don’t yet know how this will impact the pitchers. I’m sure we’ll see a ton of statistical guesswork on that in days ahead, but we won’t really know until the team gets out there ad plays next year.
Jason Vargas just took one for the team.