With one of the worst offenses in the big leagues last year, the Marlins are in need of an overhaul. They started that process with changing the roster around at the corner infield spots, adding a more consistent presence behind the plate, and banking on young potential in the outfield. That is only the beginning. The discussion now turns to the power bats in the lineup – and how to coax them out of their slumber.
In talking about the possibility of getting Giancarlo Stanton to commit to an extension, the commentators over on the Marlins MLB site brought up a very interesting point – keeping Marlins Park’s roof open.
After all, the Marlins got the city of Miami to pony up a lot of money for a retractable roof but it is vastly underused. In a city like Miami, known for its sunshine, why doesn’t the roof stay open? Yes, the summer does bring rain but the roof is there in case the rains come – now the fans have a 100% guarantee that the game will go on, rain or shine.
There has been some mumbling about the lack of power of Marlins Park and even hitters like Stanton and the-departed Logan Morrison talked about how hard it was to hit the ball out of the park.
RealistMarlinRedSox brought up the issue:
Its not just the dimensions of the ballpark. Its the fact that the ball doesnt carry with the roof closed. I dont understand how they could spend $150-200 million extra for a retractable roof over a dome, only to have the roof open for only 21 games in 2 years. The roof should be the exception, not the rule. I’m sick of going to the ballpark on a nice day or a nice night, and the roof being closed. Baseball isnt meant to be played that way, and if it can be avoided, it should be. I know for a fact the ball carries a lot better with the roof open and the panels closed.
Bottomfeeder52 tried to put things in perspective:
@RealistMarlinRedSox Maybe the Marlins figure Stanton can hit it out of anywhere (and few others can) and the only way to win with a small payroll is by concentrating mostly on pitching, like Tampa and Oakland. The Marlins have been developing and acquiring strong pitching over the last couple years. That is the one place where the team is building an advantage over many teams. So keeping the ballpark spacious is the strategic move with our personnel.
Although the Marlins do want to build as deep a pitching core as they possibly can, there is no reason to limit the amount of home runs. Their staff is a power pitching staff that gets a lot of strike outs. When you get the right hitter behind, say, an Eovaldi fastball, it is going to travel in any condition.
The dimensions were kept in place to favor pitching, much like the old dimensions at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Sun Life were. That doesn’t mean the Marlins should be trying to retard all home runs hit at Marlins park. The Fish hit 38 home runs last season in 2,639 ABs while opponents hit 48 home runs in 2,816 ABs. Those are horrible numbers all the way around. The Marlins were 36-45 at home but only 26-55 on the road despite hitting 55 HRs in 2,816 ABs. So more home runs does not necessarily mean better record (with a 3.56 ERA at home and a 3.87 ERA on the road; both scenes had a BAA of .251).
The Marlins will need to score runs to help matters as the pitching is clearly ahead of the hitting. That said, could opening up the ballpark roof actually help the offense? By keeping the air with less humidity (via the air conditioning) the ball should travel better, not worse – besides the fact that they fans would be more comfortable. That clearly is not the case.
Which brings up the question, why do the Marlins keep the roof closed all of the time if it doesn’t help the offense (and if the aim is to help the pitching anyway)? Joe Frisaro offered this tidbit:
it is either raining or incredibly hot almost every game, hence, the roof closed. Plus, 20 mph winds isn’t the best way to hit, pitch or field a baseball.
If it is raining, then it is not hot but the roof needs to be closed to allow the game to be played. If it is too hot, then should the roof really be closed? RealistMarlinRedSox brings up a great point:
@joefrisaro I can understand day games having the roof. I never had a problem until 2006 when we were playing the Red Sox and I actually almost had a heat stroke at a day game, so I couldnt go to them anymore after that until the new stadium. But at night, I dont see an issue most of the time. Fans seem to have no problems going to 1:00 Dolphin games. Going to a night game should not be an issue unless its really bad outside.
There are not that many day games. Most day games are on the weekends, in which case the roof could be closed to accommodate fans for extremely hot weather. That said, there is still air conditioning and heat does sell more beer and beverages. So it seems that the roof should only be open if there is a) no rain and b) there is not extreme heat. That still leaves more than just 21 games in 2 years (if that stat is in fact correct). As a fan who has attended many games, it is disheartening to see the roof closed more often than not when it is needless. People do want to enjoy the games and baseball is an outdoor sport, not an indoor one.
Which makes Frisaro’s other point about 20MPH winds very questionable. Does South Florida weather routinely suffer from such strong gusts in the summer? Regardless, Frisaro continues:
I am glad they close the roof. Control atmosphere is great for the game. All new parks should be considering roofs. You see where the Nats wish they had a roof. They want to add one, but that was shot down. The Mets and Yanks each have billion dollar stadiums, and there are always rain delays or rain outs, or the elements are bad, leading to injuries and cancellations. Thank goodness the Marlins built the right stadium. I’d keep it close all 81 games, if it were up to me.
So regardless of any condition, Frisaro would keep the roof closed for all home games anyway – which begs the question, why build a retractable roof is you basically are going to treat it like a dome? Just to have natural grass? Frisaro tries to bring up an incident where Logan Morrison misplayed a windswept fly ball, costing, as he claims, Josh Johnson a win. Environmental elements are part of the game and Morrison had trouble chasing his own shadow, let alone a fly ball. Hardly a case to keep the darned roof closed. After all, players all have to deal with those conditions all the time – just look at Wrigley in Chicago.
One thing is certain: keeping the roof closed does not help the offense. They Marlins hit more home runs on the road and the opposition hit more home runs in Marlins Park than the Fish. The dimensions in the park are spacious, but there are other parks with similar dimensions that have more favorable power numbers. To put things in perspective, after Stanton’s 15 home runs at Marlins Park, the high on the team was 3 – Jeff Mathis, Derek Dietrich, and Justin Ruggiano. In fact, Jose Fernandez hit as many home runs at Marlins Park as Logan Morrison – 1. Juan Pierre also had 1 as did Placido Polanco.
Red Grooms’ statue doesn’t see a lot of action and in part it could be the dimensions and the roster that is failing to light things up beyond the left center wall. Keeping the roof closed may not help either, despite the need for rain threats and possibly extreme weather. Other than that, the roof needs to be opened and kept that was, as the rule and not the exception, otherwise what is the point of putting all that capital into a park that is essentially a dome?