The Yankee Stadium Effect

Many are skeptical that Yankee Stadium II’s dimensions represent an exact replica of the original stadium’s — or, at least, a replica of the post-1976 version of old Yankee Stadium. The club contends on its official site that the distances from home plate to the outfields walls are identical to the previous park’s.

Because of the volume of home runs hit there since it opened, however, and because the outfield depths sure seem different, many have wondered if the club’s claims are true. The New York Times, for example, was compelled to explore the issue back in 2009.

When I asked if he still believed the dimensions were the same as before, as some folks have disputed with visual evidence, [Yankees general Brian] Cashman said, “I’ve been told they’re the same. I know they’re supposed to be the same.”

Still, without access or permission to survey the field, it’s never been possible to know exactly how honest any team is being with regard to its outfield dimensions depths. There are many who believed Fenway’s left-field wall was closer than the listed dimensions, and to anyone who has hit, pitched, or watched a game in New Yankee, the right-field wall seems awfully close. I would suggest that it’s unreasonably close to home plate.

We’ve never known which dimensions we could trust, though. Until now. It’s my understanding that the Doppler radar of Statcast is quite accurate. With that as backdrop, it’s my goal in this post to employ that radar technology to measure home runs that have passed just over the wall of Yankee Stadium to get a better sense of the park’s dimensions — especially those areas of the field that are left unmarked. Only five outfield depths are listed on the Yankee’s official website and posted on the outfield-wall locations. I was especially curious with regard to the unmarked territory in right.

Let’s begin. First in left field.

The stadium’s dimensions are listed at distances between 399 feet and 408 feet from left to left-center at Yankee Stadium. According to Statcast, however, this was a 397-foot homer to center-left-center via Tyler White.

Interesting!

Rule 1.04 states that each major-league stadium must have a minimum center-field depth of 400 feet and field of play stretching to at least 325 feet down the lines. Exceptions by the commissioner’s office are often granted, of course, including the the dimensions of 318 and 314 feet down New Yankees’ left- and right-field lines, respectively. But I am not aware of any regulations governing the distance of dimensions between center and the foul lines, and it’s here where the Yankees and/or stadium designers were most aggressive in pushing an acceptable distance.

According to Statcast, here is a 339-foot fly ball via Dustin Pedroia to right field at Fenway, just left of the Pesky Pole.

Here is a 339-foot Pedroia fly ball at Yankee Stadium …

An Adrian Beltre 331-foot fly ball at Wrigley Field …

A Beltre 336-foot fly ball at Yankee Stadium …

Those fly balls, above, are batted to an area that we’d would probably classify as “right field.” What about the right-center gap and nearer the alleged 385-foot marker? This is an Aaron Judge 362-foot home run. Think Judge loves hitting at Yankee Stadium?

Since 2006, no right-handed hitter has hit more home runs to right center and right field at New Yankee than Starlin Castro (6). Here’s a 374-foot Castro homer that lands in the third row — again, the third row — in right-center field.

There’s a reason New Yankee ranked first in MLB in home-run park factors in 2014, 2016, and is leading again this season.

Andrew Clem’s ball-park web site is becoming quite the resource for this author. I employed it last week to detail how ballparks are pushing us a way. But we’ll use it briefly today to show how Yankee Stadium II is quite different, dimensionally, from Yankee Stadium I. From the bird’s eye view, these stadiums sure seem, well, different. In old Yankee Stadium, the 385-foot sign was located nearer the right-center midpoint, in New Yankee it is pushed more nearer center field.

Clem estimates that right-center gap at Yankee Stadium is 360 feet from home plate. The Judge homer verifies that distance. And between that point and the foul pole the majority of 350-foot fly balls will go for home runs. This was one heck of a way to entice Bryce Harper to join the Yankees in 2019.

Harper is going to be a superstar wherever he plays. But the thing is, New Yankee Stadium might actually benefit right-handed power more than left-handed power.

Consider that, in the Statcast era, the average home run pulled to left of center field by a right-handed hitter has traveled 405 feet. The average home run hit right of center by a right-handed hitter has traveled 387 feet. Of the 544 home runs hit right of center by right-handed hitters since 2016 that have been tracked by Statcast, 47 have been hit in Yankee Stadium, which leads baseball and outpaces runner-up Coors Field (39). And, folks, we’re just entering the Judge era.

Here is a 344-foot Manny Machado fly ball in Toronto. Jose Bautista catches it at the edge of the warning track, a rather routine putout.

Here is a 348-foot Machado fly ball at Yankee Stadium:

Machado has not homered on a fly ball under 391 feet to center or right at Camden Yards since 2016. He’s done it twice at Yankee Stadium. And he could do it quite often should he consider signing there after the 2018 season.

The right-field to right-center-field dimensions at New Yankee Stadium push boundaries and the spirit of rule 1.04. It warps the offensive environment. Most pitchers are not fans of the dimensions. Have you noticed Ivan Nova’s willingness to pitch in the zone since leaving Yankee Stadium? Harper and Machado would perhaps look upon it more favorably. Yankee Stadium has done some false advertising; there are perhaps more regulations needed to govern outfield dimensions. But it is the right-field wall that could also be a drawing card in creating a powerful lineup to fuel the next Yankee dynasty.





A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

57 Comments
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Llewdor
5 years ago

You can measure these distances pretty well from satellite pictures, can’t you? There shouldn’t be any need to rely on batted ball data.

noseeummember
5 years ago
Reply to  Travis Sawchik
karcotte
5 years ago
Reply to  Travis Sawchik

That seems particularly naive of you. Maybe it’s a good business decision tho.

Buhners Rocket Armmember
5 years ago
Reply to  Llewdor

True, but I think this is also an exercise in using the new technology to prove a theory.

Rotoholicmember
5 years ago
Reply to  Llewdor

Yeah get an aerial photo of the field with the bases in place and you have precise measurements for the entire field, since you know it’s exactly 90′ between bases and 60.6′ from the mound to home plate. This isn’t rocket surgery.

southie
5 years ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

Ouch. Rocket surgery could be quite invasive.

The Ghost of Stephen Drews Bat
5 years ago
Reply to  southie

*jamming rocket into patient’s mouth*
“Can you please say “ahhhh” louder?”

rounders
5 years ago
Reply to  Rotoholic

That is how the left field line at at Fenway was measured at 295′. There are real estate surveyors who do all their work from an airplane. For some reason these things must be kept as mysterious as the true heights of short baseball players.

FrancoLuvHateMets
5 years ago
Reply to  Llewdor

But, then we don’t get a bunch of dinger videos.