Why Moving The Safeco Field Fences In Cost The Mariners A Ton Of Wins And Several Men Their Jobs

I was having a discussion with some fellow baseball nerds about whether or not moving the fences in had been a success.  Most of the discussion surrounded the minor improvement in the offense at home.  A conclusion was reached that the 4 additional losses in 2013 vs 2012 were due to a decline in pitching overall, specifically the back end of the rotation and late inning relief.  I got curious about the impact of the fences on offense vs. pitching. We all know the Mariners improved their offensive performance slightly in 2013, and they hit 20% more HRs (although the improvement at home was only around 13%). And we all know pitching failed us. But did the pitching fail us because it was actually WORSE, or was there something else at play?

The splits are eye opening.  In 2012, the Mariners went 35-46 on the road with an ERA of 4.59. Opposing hitters had and OPS of .777. In 2013 they also went 35-46 on the road and their numbers were slightly better across the board. In 2012 they performed much better at home than on the road, going 40-41 with an ERA of only 2.97 ad opponent OPS that was an anemic .626. But in 2013, with the fences moved in, it ballooned to 4.18/.715, and 37%. They went 36-45 at home, a decrease of 4 wins year over year.

From 2012-2013, just about every pitching or opponent hitting statistic I looked at got slightly better on the road and about 35% worse at home. And to further prove the point, statistics that wouldn’t have been impacted by fences like K/BB and SB allowed also improved at home, about the same amount as they improved on the road (although SB’s was way down everywhere, presumably because of Zunino).

So I ask… do we still think moving the fences in accomplished anything positive besides showing the fans more HRs?



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