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Saturday, May 08, 2004

DeBunking the Green Monster Myth: It Ain't That Easy

As Rod Serling once said, "Your next stop......" should be this zone:
if you want to learn something about:
- baseball physics and home runs,
- math modeling,
- decreasing velocity due to air resistance is not constant,
- and Euler's Method of Numerical Annalist.
And How Difficult it Really is to hit a HR in any MLB park.

Thanks to a wonderful math experiment performed by Mr. Trainor of the Lexington High School Department of Mathematics, and nicely illustrated on the above mentioned Web page, all can see how the integration of the values for altitude (needed for Denver!), distance to the wall/fence, wind velocity, and height of the wall/fence all come together to determine the relative level of difficulty of hitting a HR in all MLB parks.

Trainor's equation has been worked through with the data values for all current and some older MLB parks. In great tables, these basic stats are listed plus converted to the "net" or effective values (initial velocity expressed as the distance value needed to achieve a HR, expressed in relative "feet") for the right, center, and left field park dimensions for all MLB venues. (Math challenged? So am I. That's why Trainor's work is so interesting! It is already done for us.)

What do we find? Well, hitting a HR in Boston's Fenway to right field is actually the easiest HR in the majors - a combination of the short distance (302 ft.) and the low wall height (4 feet) for a net effective 307 ft. Toughest right field HR? Wrigley: a measured distance of 353, a 15 foot fence, for an effective distance of 364 ft.
How about the Green Monster? Trainor's equation tells us that the combination of the 310 ft. distance with a 37 foot high wall dictates that the net or effective distance needed for a left field HR is actually 343 ft. - the sixth hardest of all MLB parks Trainor modeled.
Which park offers the "easiest" left field home run? Yankee Stadium, with a measured distance of 318 and an effective distance of 323 ft. The hardest? Again Wrigley: a measured distance of 355, a 16 foot fence, and an effective distance of 367 ft.

Toughest home run in all of MLB? Fenway's 420 ft. "Triangle," a measured distance of 420, and an effective distance of 431 ft. with a 17 foot wall.

This is a fun page, with lots of equations (Which you can ignore) but the tables with the calculated data are the real gem here; well worth the URL visit - and a print out for the next time you want to argue about how cheap Bucky Dent's HR really was.
It was Torrez folks, not Dent - and if you are honest with yourself as a baseball fan, think about the following:
- if you want to call Dent's HR cheap, how about Fisk's '75 Game 6 Foul Pole shot over the same Wall?
- if you call Dent's HR cheap, how about Yaz' HR around the RF Pesky Pole early in the '78 playoff game (Shortest HR in baseball, remember?) I was there, saw it. It was a HR, but.....and I love Yaz too, of course. (Use the field you are given!)