From top to bottom, front office to roster, players and manager, the Giants are going through changes. Cue your Black Sabbath -- changes could be coming to Oracle Park, too.
Andrew Baggarly and Eno Sarris of The Athletic reported Tuesday that multiple people in the Giants' brass are exploring the idea of making changes to the park, including moving in the fences in right-center field where Triples Alley is currently constructed.
“We’re a long way from having real traction and momentum on this issue, so there would be a lot more we have to do,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told The Athletic. “Objectively, how would it impact the type of game played in our park? We’d want to look at how it would affect us organizationally now and going forward. But at this point, for practical issues like the bullpens or broader long-range philosophical or strategic issues about where the game is going, I think we’re at least opening up the discussion on it."
Since the ballpark opened in 2000, the Giants have hit fewer home runs at their home field than any other MLB team. The Giants rank last in the NL with only 10 home runs this season, and only the Tigers (7) are behind them.
“You also have to continue to track whether you’ve become so idiosyncratic that you become an outlier in a way where it may ultimately become a disadvantage for you," Zaidi continued. "The way teams are, as the surge in power numbers has become a bigger part of a winning formula for teams around the league, that’s something we have to take a look at.”
Though Bruce Bochy won't be in San Francisco past this season, he has managed the Giants since 2007 and agrees that changes need to be made.
“It’s worth it, I think, for all of us to sit down and talk about it and do what we think is the best thing for our team,” Bochy said to The Athletic. "(Triples Alley) would be a great place to put the bullpens. There’s room out there. Personally, I feel if you hit a ball 400 feet, it should be a home run.
"So yeah, I think we should all be open minded to making a change.”
There is no area of a ballpark less hitter-friendly in the game than Triples Alley. Right-center field at Oracle Park is 421 feet away from home plate and 25 feet high.
A left-handed hitter like Brandon Belt seems to be at a big disadvantage. "High Drive" park factors show that Belt could have hit over 100 home runs over the past four seasons instead of his actual 67 if he played in Baltimore.
"I mean, if you think it’s fair that we should be able to hit, you know, 20 to 30 more home runs if we played in another park, maybe then yeah, it might be unfair in that respect," Belt said to The Athletic when asked if it's fair hitting at Oracle Park. "But it’s not unfair in the respect that there’s a lot of outfield out there. You can get a lot of hits if you hit the ball at the right angles and stuff like that. And there’s a lot of room to run.
"You can, you know, get a lot of extra-base hits. But yeah, you’re not going to get the home runs that you think you might get in another place. So it’s fair, and it’s unfair in those respects.”
In his career Belt has hit 29 more home runs away from San Francisco than at home (in 15 more games). However, his slugging percentage is five points higher at home (.458) than on the road (.453).
Changes are coming to the Giants, and perhaps that means more home runs, too.