The Los Angeles Angels will have a far more dynamic offense in 2018 thanks to the additions of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. But simply adding more power to the lineup isn’t the only way the team plans on increasing its home run total.
The Angels have announced plans to alter the dimensions at Angel Stadium, and according to MLB’s Statcast technology those alterations could increase the home run output in 2018 and beyond by nearly 10 percent.
When the season opens, the 18 foot outfield wall that extends from the right field corner almost all the way to center field, will see its home run boundary lowered to eight feet, making it consistent with most of the outfield wall. It won’t change the look of the ballpark since the wall will remain in place. It will, however, change how the ballpark plays now that any ball that hits above the eight-foot line will be a home run.
It will be a much more inviting target for Angels hitters. Especially for the left-handed swinging Ohtani, whose display of power in Japan not only tested ballpark dimensions, but many times tested a ballpark’s boundaries. It might be a coincidence that the changes are being made just two months after his signing. Then again, it might not be. After all, Ohtani is a pitcher first and foremost, and the new home run boundary certainly won’t benefit them.
Here’s how much of a potential rude awakening it could be for pitchers, according to Statcast’s findings.
Based on the hundreds of batted balls we saw at Angel Stadium over the past two seasons, we found some extremely consistent results. In 2016, we might have seen 16 more homers in Anaheim, or an 8.5 percent increase on the 187 homers hit in the park. In ’17, we might have seen 17 additional homers on the 202 homers hit there, a rise of an identical 8.5 percent. That’s consistent. Consistency is good.
The Angels are a predominantly right-handed hitting team with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons among the returning stars. Kinsler and Cozart will add to that imbalance. Still, there’s more than enough opposite field power in that bunch for the alteration to make a difference offensively.
The Angels hit 186 homers last season, good for 24th in MLB and 14th out of 15 in the American League. If they can bump that number into the 220 range and move into MLB’s top 10, they’ll be a difficult team to deal with regardless of how the changes impact their pitching.
Another interesting twist: How many more home run robberies will Mike Trout add to his catalog now? We’ve seen him make some great plays against that right field wall. Many of those would have robbed home runs under the new ground rules. It’s possible this change could lead to career highs in several categories for baseball’s brightest superstar.
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