Does Marlins Ballpark Suppress Home Runs After All?

April 4, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) throws out the first pitch in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during opening day at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Remember back on Opening Day, when the Marlins hosted the St. Louis Cardinals for the first official game at Marlins Ballpark? Well, technically, it wasn't Opening Day. It was the Night Before Opening Day Just So the Marlins Could Kick Off the Season in Their New Ballpark. Seriously, that was the official name. You can look it up.

You done? Good.

You remember that Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes and Logan Morrison hit loud balls deep into the outfield that seemed to just die? And immediately after the game, the hand-wringing began? "The outfield is too big." "The Marlins will have to bring in the fences." "How could they do this to Giancarlo"? And you remember that I wrote a story here at Baseball Nation that said, essentially, "Calm down, everyone. Ballparks don't always play the same way over the season as they play on Opening Day or in the opening series. We have to wait and see"?


With the first season of Marlins Ballpark nearly over, it has been the third-toughest ballpark in the National League in which to hit a home run this season. The toughest is AT&T Park. The second toughest is Petco Park. And then there's Marlins Ballpark.

In 69 games at Marlins Park, teams have hit a total of 100 home runs. The Marlins have hit 47 of those. The visiting teams have hit 53. That works out to 1.45 home runs per game and falls just shy of tying Dodger Stadium, which has averaged 1.46 home runs per game this season (104 home runs in 71 games).

Here's how the National League ballparks stack up so far this season in home runs per game:


How much has Marlins Ballpark hurt the Marlins' offense, at least in terms of home-run production?

While the Marlins have hit only 47 home runs at home, they've hit 73 home runs on the road. That's 1.5 times more home runs on the road than at home. The only teams with bigger home-run differentials between home and road are the Giants and the Padres. San Francisco has hit 21 home runs at home. Yes, that says twenty-one home runs in 69 games at home. And they've hit 61 home runs on the road, nearly three times as many. San Diego's just a tad better than the Giants at home. The Padres have hit 31 home runs at Petco and 67 on the road, or nearly 2.2 more homers on the road than at home. The Dodgers have hit only 44 home runs at Dodger Stadium, and done only a bit better on the road, smacking 50 on the road.

Here's how the National League teams compare on home-run hitting at home:


And here's how they compare on hitting home runs on the road:


There are the Marlins, the third best home run-hitting team on the road in the National League this season. Sure, they are considerably off the pace set by the Pirates and the Nationals, but a vastly different home run-hitting team on the road than at home.

Bear in the mind that Marlins Ballpark has a retractable roof and the Marlins played the vast majority of their home games in the temperature-controlled environment with the the roof closed. Allan Nathan, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Champaign, recently quantified the effect of higher temperatures on the distanced traveled by fly balls. "Suppose the average MLB game-time temperature were 10F higher. Fly balls on a typical home run trajectory would travel about 2.5 ft farther (about 0.6%), leading to 6% more home runs," Nathan concluded.

If the Marlins are concerned about the lack of home runs at home -- and given the results in 2012, they probably are -- they may want to consider playing more games with the roof open in the hot and humid air of South Florida.

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