ROTISSERIE: New Rangers home headlines 2020 ballpark changes

Of the new environments in which baseball will be played in 2020, the biggest change is coming to Arlington… or is it?

Team officials have commented that Globe Life Field — not to be confused with Globe Life Park — will have dimensions “very similar” to its predecessor, and with one notable that seems to be the case. 

Here, courtesy of Rangers Twitter, are the details:

In other words, the new dimensions are:

Left field line: 329 feet (minus 3 feet)

Left center power alley: 372 feet (minus 18 feet)

Straight-away center: 407 feet (no change)

Deepest point of park: 410 feet (3 feet further)

Right center power alley: 374 feet (minus 7 feet)

Right field line: 326 (plus 1 foot)

So, on the surface, the new park is the same as the old park, more or less — though that left-center power alley might be able to, say, help Robinson Chirinos (C, TEX) crack the 20-HR barrier for the first time, perpetuate the illusion that the power skills of Nick Solak (2B, TEX) are further along than they are or stem the fade of the power skills of Elvis Andrus (SS, TEX) into oblivion.

But don’t worry about this guy. He’ll be fine.

But the dimensions are not the end of the story.

According to Rotogrinders weather guru Kevin Roth, the orientation of the new park standing at home plate and looking towards center field appears to be northeast or north-northeast.

"That’s great news for hitters, as the prevailing wind flow on Arlington is out of the south," Roth says.

It is also, at least in theory, an improvement over Globe Life Park, which was oriented in more of a southeasterly direction but experienced a "weird wind field that took a wind blowing in and swirled it around to blow out," Roth says.

The team's executive vice president for business operations, Rob Matwick, told the Dallas Morning News that the profile of the building — significantly taller than Globe Life Park — should diminish the impact of the wind.

Roth agrees that there is a very high wall (the roof portion) behind the third base line, which may block some of the wind.

"But all in all, it looks like a good park for hitting when the roof is open," he says, pointing to the prevailing wind flow blowing out to left-center and the hot and humid climate helping the ball carry.

But therein lies the rub. A lot will depend on how often the Rangers choose to close this baby for the sake of fan comfort.

Roth notes that he has gone to between 10 and 15 Astros games over the years, and the Minute Maid Park roof has always been closed because of the heat, rather than rain.

At least as of 2014, Houston's policy was to close its roof for games with a feels-like temperature over 88 at or over 84 during the day.

If the Rangers have similar "magic numbers" for closing their roof, "that’s pretty much a nightly auto-close in summer," Roth says.

If the Rangers do end up essentially playing indoors at home for most of the summer, it will eliminate the hot, humid, helpful-wind trifectas that daily fantasy players were fond of chasing for stacking purposes and may, over the course of the full season, threaten Arlington's status as the league's best hitting environment outside of Coors Field.

The flip side of that coin, of course, is that Corey Kluber (RHP, TEX) and company may be a bit less volatile and risky to roster.

About all that can be said with confidence at this point is that postponements will be fewer (if not eliminated altogether), and the fans will be more comfortable. Beyond that, the increased use of air conditioning could bring Globe Life back to the pack as a run-scoring environment, though that could be offset by the far more inviting left-field power alley.

Marlins Park

The situation is more clear in Miami, where the organization is taking steps to address the fact that Marlins Park has yielded the second-fewest home runs over the past seven years and failed to share in 2019's home run bonanza, producing only 173 when 11 ballparks generated at least 240.

Specifically, the fences in center field and right-center will be coming up by 12 feet, to 400 feet and 387, respectively.

The spray chart of Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) shows a few warning-track fly balls that may have met a better fate with the new dimensions.

The Marlins are also following the lead of the Diamondbacks — as are the Rangers — in opting to replace their natural-grass surfaces with artificial turf.

The new surface Arizona may have helped Diamondbacks' pitchers around the margins. At least through early August, ground balls with an exit velocity of 90 mph or harder produced lower batting average (.350) a batting average at Chase Field than they had the year before (.366), according to a story by the Arizona Republic's Nic Piecoro.

On the other hand, Arizona's outfielders occasionally grumbled about the toll the new surface was taking on them, and Ketel Marte (OF, ARI) went so far to blame the turf for the back injury that cut his season short before walking those comments back.

If there's any truth to those concerns, maybe pull up a dollar short on bids on Corey Dickerson (OF, MIA), given his history of foot injuries.

On the other hand, Pablo Lopez (RHP, MIA) has the type of skill set to make good use of improved infield surface.

Oracle Park

That one park with fewer home runs over the last seven years than Marlins Park? That distinction belongs to San Francisco's Oracle Park.

Like the Marlins, the team is taking steps to correct that, and Giants executive vice president Alfonso Felder has said that he is “confident” that “there will likely be an increase in offense as a byproduct of the changes.”

But before booking Brandon Belt (1B, SF) for that long-awaited 30-HR season, consider the relatively small scale of the changes:

Field            Old      New     Change
=========      ======   ======    ======
LF foul pole   339 ft   339 ft     0 ft
Left-center    404 ft   399 ft     5 ft
Center         399 ft   391 ft     8 ft
Right-center   421 ft   415 ft     6 ft
RF corner      309 ft   309 ft     0 ft

To accommodate sight lines that would otherwise be impeded due to the relocation of the bullpens to the outfield, the center-field wall will also be lowered 8 feet high to 7. That should make that wall both easier to clear and easier for a center fielder to surmount to steal a home run.

Clearly, however, the team did not want to mess too much with the character “Triples Alley” in right-center, which will remain a tough pull for the “mere mortals” sporting the home team uniforms in the post-Bonds era.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.