Aaron Judge became the latest hitter to criticize the new pitcher-friendly dimensions at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and Orioles veteran Trey Mancini seems to agree with the New York Yankees slugger.
After losing a would-be home run that bounced off the top of the newly constructed high wall in left field Tuesday night, Judge told MLB.com that he was “pretty upset” about the new dimensions, saying the redesigned ballpark is a “travesty” and it “just looks like a Create-A-Park now.”
Mancini, the Orioles’ longest-tenured player, told the Baltimore Sun that Judge isn’t the first player to complain about Camden’s new dimensions; the left-field wall has been pushed back approximately 30 feet and also has been raised from 7 feet to approximately 12 feet high.
“Nobody likes it,” Mancini told the Sun. “No hitters like it, myself included.”
Judge’s first-inning blast Tuesday traveled 399 feet and would have been a homer in all 29 of the other ballparks in Major League Baseball, according to Statcast data. But the new Camden Yards held Judge in the ballpark, much to the Yankees’ dismay.
“He almost had three [homers],” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, who hit a pair of solo home runs later in the game. “But Build-Your-Own-Park got him.”
Judge, who leads the majors with 14 homers this season, elaborated on his Camden critique Wednesday, telling the New York Post that the new dimensions have detracted from what was a “beautiful park.”
“I feel like it ruins the park,” Judge told the Post before going hitless in New York’s 3-2 victory over Baltimore. “It was quite a beautiful park the way it was.”
New York’s Giancarlo Stanton also lost a homer to the left-field dimensions in the first inning Thursday, when his 386-foot shot caromed off the wall for a two-run single. The line drive left Stanton’s bat at 114 mph and would have been a homer in 28 of 30 MLB ballparks, according to Statcast.
The Yankees slugger was happier with the result in the fourth inning, when his towering 392-foot blast hooked around the left-field foul pole for a solo home run. Stanton became the first visiting player to homer to left field at Camden Yards this season.
Baltimore’s Robinson Chirinos also solved the high wall two innings earlier, when he launched a 381-foot shot for a two-run home run, becoming the fourth Orioles player to homer to left field at home this season.
Just 1.8% of plate appearances at Camden Yards this season have ended in a home run, the fifth fewest of any stadium in MLB, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Last season, 4.5% of plate appearances at Camden ended in a homer, the highest percentage in MLB.
No park allowed more home runs last season than Camden Yards, and the Orioles yielded 155 homers at home last season — the most in MLB and the third most by any team in a season.
Mancini, who is in his sixth season with the Orioles, was homerless at Camden Yards entering Thursday afternoon’s game against the Yankees. The power-hitting first baseman hit 14 of his 21 homers last season at Camden Yards but has lost at least two would-be homers to the new dimensions this season.
“There’s nothing we can do to change it,” Mancini told the Sun. “It’s nothing you can be thinking about when you’re up at the plate. But it doesn’t make it any less tough when you hit a ball that you think should definitely be a homer.”
This marks the second time in recent weeks that the Yankees have been involved in a back-and-forth over ballpark dimensions and their impact on home runs.
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward referred to Yankee Stadium as a “little league ballpark to right field” earlier this month and said Gleyber Torres’ walk-off homer would have been an “easy out in 99 percent of ballparks.” Boone initially did not respond to Woodward before quipping that his “math’s wrong,” pointing out that “99 percent is impossible. There’s only 30 parks.”
With Boone on the opposite end of the discourse this week, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde told the Sun he would “take the high [road]” and said he thinks Camden Yards is playing “more fair” on fly balls to left field.
Camden Yards has yielded just 1.3 homers per game this season, the fifth fewest in the majors, after allowing an MLB-high 3.4 per game last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
“Before, fly balls to left field were homers, and it was really unfair a lot of times,” Hyde told the Sun. “It’s just playing more fair than before.”
Chirinos, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Austin Hays are the only Orioles hitters who have homered over the left-field wall this season, and Mancini reiterated that the homer-robbing dimensions have not been well received by Baltimore’s hitters.
“I know that [Judge’s] ball probably should be a homer, but we’ve had quite a few, too, that should have been,” he told the Sun. “Like I said, we play half our games here, so not great as a right-handed hitter .
“It’s still our job to go out there and play, so complaining about [it], it’s not going to help us out. But that doesn’t mean we necessarily like it, either.”
Orioles pitchers, conversely, have thrived in the new dimensions, posting a combined 2.74 ERA and allowing just 11 homers in 19 home games entering Thursday. Baltimore pitchers had a 5.99 ERA in 81 home games last season.
“The stadium is a total gem,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias told the Post. “We wanted to make it less of a homer haven.”