How will the Mets' new ballpark play?
Eric Simon: For starters, what makes Citi Field a "Grand Canyon" where Shea Stadium was merely a decent pitcher's park? The park dimensions are nearly identical, with Shea actually slightly deeper in many cases.
Greg Rybarczyk: I'm sure most people have not had access to the drawn-to-scale Citi Field prints, as I have, but when you compare the dimensions you get there for Citi Field with the ones for Shea Stadium that you get from overhead satellite photos, you will see that Citi Field is actually deeper in almost every part of the park, and by a large amount. You will see that only in the corners is Shea deeper, and then only barely so in LF and a bit more so in RF, while Citi Field is a) hugely deeper in RF and RCF, and b) somewhat deeper with much taller fences in LF and LCF.
Really, Citi Field is not even close to Shea dimension-wise, and home runs will be drastically reduced. I predict this because over the last three years, my analysis of every home run hit in MLB revealed that approximately 29% of all home runs have cleared the fence by 10 feet or less. At least half of the Citi Field outfield fence is either 10 or more feet deeper, or effectively 10 or more feet deeper due to a combination of longer distance and higher fence height.
I think the odds of Johan [Santana] winning the Cy Young are pretty good, actually. Of course he's got to pitch well, but the field is going to help him and help the relievers that try to keep his inherited runners from scoring, and the relievers who try to close out the game in the 9th. Since the Mets have a great CF in Beltran, they will never be worse than even with an opponent in terms of covering the huge outfield, so there's another plus for the Mets. I think scoring may not necessarily be that much lower, also, due to the certain increase in triples, and most likely in other non-homer hits as well due to the bigger field. Homers will be way down, but I see Jose Reyes liking the deep RCF alley, he will certainly rack up some triples and maybe some ITP homers as well.
That last bit is hyperbolic, of course; nobody hits inside-the-park homers any more, not unless an outfielder falls down and can't get up. But otherwise I don't know why a bigger outfield wouldn't help the Mets, and Santana in particular. My one concern is that aside from Beltran, their outfielders aren't the fleetest afoot.