Will altering Citi Field fences help Mets?


Adam Rubin has a piece up on ESPNNewYork.com about the Mets possibly moving the fences in at Citi Field for 2012. Since Citi Field opened in 2009, Mets hitters have complained about the dimensions, especially the distance of the power alley in left-center. As David Wright told Rubin, "I don't know if relief is the right word. I think it's a great idea. I think when you go play in a park, you'd like for it to be fair. So I'm excited that's going to happen."

Wright, of course, has been the focal point of the Mets' offensive struggles since moving out of Shea. From 2005 to 2008, he hit .311/.394/.534 overall and averaged a home run every 18.5 at-bats at home and every 23.0 at-bats on the road. Since 2009, Wright is hitting .286/.366/.468, averaging a home run every 31.5 at-bats at home and every 25.5 at-bats on the road.

ut is Citi Field the reason the Mets haven't finished over .500 in their three seasons there? Let's look at their final four seasons at Shea Stadium, when the club finished over .500 each year, and compare it to the first three seasons at Citi Field. The first number is the difference in home wins versus road wins, and in parenthesis is the home and road totals in run differential.

2005: +15 wins (+51, +23)

2006: +3 wins (+48, +55)

2007: -6 wins (-9, +63)

2008: +7 wins (+40, +44)

2009: +12 wins (-7, -79)

2010: +15 wins (+52, -48)

2011: -10 wins (-42, +14)*

*2011 numbers extrapolated to a full season

Keep in mind that in general all teams have a small home-field advantage. As you can see, the Mets have played poorly at home this year ... but played much better there in 2009 and 2010. In other words, Citi Field is not the reason the Mets are losing; if anything, it's been a positive influence on the club's win-loss record.

So while David Wright and Jason Bay may dislike the fence distances at Citi Field and, yes, teams can construct their team around their ballpark, the reality is moving in the fences will have little barring on the team's success in the future. It may make for more home runs and make it easier to attract free-agent hitters, but it also means more home runs allowed and a less attractive ballpark to free-agent pitchers.

And there's the rub: If the Mets have a positive future, it's in the development of young pitchers like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. If they spend free-agent money in the future, it's more likely to be on hitters.

They just have to spend it on the right players.