Results tagged ‘ right field ’
I scored for BIS two of the games in the Tides four-game series against Charlotte, and both ended in 4-3 walkoff Tides wins. While Friday night’s game lasted just over four hours and fourteen innings before John Hester’s home run ended it, Sunday’s game was completed in the regulation nine. And the Tides won it in the bottom of the ninth on a Ryan Adams walkoff single.
I score games for BIS from a seat just to the third-base side of home plate, and noticed something today that I hadn’t really noticed before. In Harbor Park, there is a “party deck” in right field that shortens the right-field foul line to 318 feet. Moving over toward center field, the outfield wall juts out pretty sharply after the party deck en route to a monstrously distant power alley of 390+ feet. What I noticed today is that the right fielders play well off the right-field foul line, probably as much as 75 to 90 feet. I assume they do so because balls hit down the line will be stopped at 318 feet, limiting all but the fastest runners to doubles. Balls hit to right-center field will roll to 370 or 380 feet, making it more important to cut the ball off.
The Tides took advantage of the defensive positioning to score their first run. Ryan Adams hit a ground ball down the right-field line and reached second before the Knights’ right fielder Conor Jackson could retrieve it. Jamie Hoffmann immediately followed with a fly ball that dropped a few feet from the right-field line, just before Jackson could reach it. It went for a run-scoring double.
There’s an interesting set of philosophical dynamics at work here. It almost certainly makes sense for teams to play their right-fielders so far off the foul line. And if minor-league baseball was primarily concerned with winning, it would obviously make sense for Tides’ hitters, right-handed hitters in particular, to shoot for that open space as much as possible. However, what works for the Tides’ interest would work against the Baltimore Orioles’ interest in developing players. Most major-league teams don’t play their right fielders so far off the foul line, so there’s less of an advantage in being able to hit balls down the line. It’s a skill of no use and developing that skill hinders the development of other, more useful skills.
It is interesting to speculate on baseball with “free minor leagues”, in which farm system affiliations are eliminated and each team at each level is responsible for acquiring their own players. Would the Tides be more successful if they could win games by teaching their hitters to hit down the foul line? Or would better players, looking for the big contracts in the National and American leagues, skip the Tides to play in more standard ballparks? Would the Tides then develop their own players who’ll spend their careers in Norfolk? I just don’t know.