Is Texas Rangers Ballpark a hitter’s or pitcher’s park?
By David Cash
Apr 6, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; A general view of Rangers Ballpark prior to the game with the Texas Rangers playing against the Chicago White Sox during opening day at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington opened on April 1, 1994. Since then, it has been thought of as a hitter’s ballpark. Some of the reasons it has been considered a hitter’s park is because of a few factors such as the high temperature during the summer, short fences and the design of the ballpark which creates a swirling effect with the wind in the outfield which has a tendency to lift balls and carry them out.
With the added center field offices, it is thought without them, there would be more home runs at RBiA. Since 1994, the Texas Rangers have hit over 200 home runs as a team 8 times and were just 4 short of the record in 2005 with 260 home runs (Mariners hit 264 in 1997).
The Texas Rangers do not have the shortest fences in the league, Fenway Park has that title with their fences at 310 in left and 302 in right. While the fence in left field is only 310 feet, the Green Monster is a towering 37 feet and 2 inches tall.
Just in case you don’t remember, the RBiA has the following configuration.
- Left Field: 332 feet
- Left-Center Field: 390 feet
- Center Field: 400 feet
- Right-Center Field: 381 feet
- Right Field: 325 feet
The right and left field fences are not the shortest in the league, they do not even rank on the top ten. So why do the Texas Rangers consistently have 200 plus home runs each season? Mainly, the swirling wind in the outfield helps lift and carry them out.
The club has had several wind studies performed on the ballpark trying to change the swirling winds in the outfield. A result of one of those wind studies was the addition of the Cuervo Club in 2000. The goal of the Cuervo Club was to block the wind from going through the north portal and creating the swirling effect in the outfield. This effect is quite noticeable. On a bad day, it is easy to see the outfielders struggling to keep their hats on.
After the Cuervo Club was built, it was apparent that renovation didn’t help. The winds did change, and this time the in the outfield going from right to center. In 2006, another wind study was performed to determine the changes in the wind pattern between the lower and upper decks behind home plate.
"“I’ve read more than I’ve witnessed that the Gold [Cuervo] Club is an issue,” said Jeff Cogen (Rangers Club President 2006). (MLB.com T.R. Sullivan)"
Since then, the Texas Rangers have made additional changes to the ballpark such as Batter’s Eye Club in the outfield. Which removed the kids play area and keys grand slam park. Those amenities were moved indoors behind center field. Along with the Batter’s Eye Club, the Rangers added new jumbo tron over the home run porch, new displays beside the Coke signs in the outfield, another commissioners box and moved the wall behind home plate.
The most recent change to RBiA are the additional concession stands behind home plate and the removal of the Cuervo Club. These changes again are supposed to keep the winds from swirling as much in the outfield.
After a full season, it appears it may have worked. The new open areas behind the home plate now allow the winds to flow in and out of the ballpark from the various portals. Previously, these areas were blocked and fostered the necessary conditions that create the swirling winds from right to center, and resulted in more balls being carried out for home runs.
In 2013, the Texas Rangers hit only 176 home runs for the season. That’s is considerably down from the previous years. Now, this is only a sample set from one year, and the club was missing the bat of Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. But the next few years will add more data to support that Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington might be more of a pitcher’s park than a hitter’s park.
In my opinion, the goal of the wind studies has been to decrease the swirling winds in the outfield to bring down the home runs totals for both the Texas Rangers and the visiting team. Making it more of a pitcher’s park will help bring in better pitchers.
In previous years, it has been difficult to bring in big arms such as Zack Grienke to RBiA because of its nature of being a hitter’s park. Now that appears to be changing, maybe the Texas Rangers will be able to change that trend. Maybe the park can all some where in the middle instead of being at the extreme of being a hitter’s park.
It will take some more time to know how the recent changes will impact the park, but my guess is RBiA is now a pitcher’s park. Fans love the long ball, but it doesn’t always win games. Sometimes, they cause you to lose the game.
What are your thoughts?