Friday, November 12, 2010
Justin Morneau misses the Target (Field)
By Justin Havens
The Minnesota Twins might not have made any moves in free agency or trades so far this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making noise. In particular, Justin Morneau shared his dissatisfaction with the team’s plans to spend $4 to $6 million on improvements for Target Field -- but not change the dimensions.
Morneau expressed his frustration regarding the difficulty of hitting home runs in the first year of the Twins’ new ballpark. The team’s home and road numbers certainly bolster the suggestion that Target Field is a difficult environment in which to hit home runs. The team showed demonstrably more power on the road than at home in 2010, to the tune of 52 home runs at home and 90 on the road.
In addition, the specifics of Morneau’s comments ring true. He mentions the difficulty, specifically, of hitting home runs between left-center and right-center. According to HitTracker, the Twins hit 35 home runs between left-center and right-center on the road, but a paltry 14 such home runs at home.
So it appears that Morneau’s complaints about the challenges of hitting home runs at Target Field are legitimate. Moving in the fences would likely help power threats like Morneau and Mauer. However, that does not necessarily mean that moving in the fences would be beneficial for the Twins as a whole. In fact, when you look at the entire team’s cumulative home-road splits, the team actually performed better at home than on the road.
In other words, despite the power-crushing dimensions of Target Field, the Twins actually posted a better slugging percentage at home than on the road and better triple-slash stats as a whole. The Twins as a team took advantage of the spacious gaps in Target Field, posting 27 triples and 166 doubles at home compared to just 14 triples and 152 doubles on the road.
Thus, the Twins, and Justin Morneau specifically, might have been robbed of home runs at home this season, but those same dimensions that robbed the home runs also created extra doubles and triples due to its wide gaps. Target Field giveth, and Target Field taketh away, but there’s no guarantee that moving the fences in would actually be beneficial for the Twins team as a whole, particularly considering they went 53-28 at home and 41-40 on the road in 2010.