June 16, 2009

Joe Mauer will love Target Field

The Joe Mauer power surge has a lot of people giving their two cents. Some say it's a result in a slight change in his swing, some say he's gotten stronger, and yet he says that nothing has changed at all. One thing that is specifically eye-opening is that out of his 13 home runs, 9 have been hit to opposite field. The problem many people are still having, is that he's barely clearing the left field fence with his hits, which is making some people suggest that he'll eventually begin hitting more pop-ups as the season progresses.

While we won't know for sure if that will happen for sure, one thing that is already known is that Mauer will definitely love the dimensions of Target Field.

The left field wall at Target Field will be 339 feet from home plate, four feet shorter than the left field wall at the Metrodome. While four feet doesn't seem like a lot, if Mauer continues to drive the ball towards that side of the field, he should be able to collect a few more home runs over the course of a season. How many? I doubt very many, but a few.

Here is Mauer's 2009 home run landing spots plot:

Already this season, Mauer has hit two balls to left field that would have been home runs, if he were playing in Target Field. One was a home run that was robbed by Clete Thomas and another was a double that came against the Kansas City Royals in just his first game of the season, it would have been his second home run of the game.

Obviously I'm not taking a few things into effect, some of which would be a negative and some of which could be positives. I haven't mentioned the hits to right field or to right-center, the positive/negative effect wind will have on the ball, and I'm also not taking into effect the number of "would have been" home runs he's hit on the road.

But with all of that said, is it that hard to imagine him hitting 4-5 more home runs because of just a few feet?