Over the last couple of days, we have talked about how a player's skill set can affect his ability to take advantage of his home ballpark. Yesterday's discussion on Adrian Gonzalez noted that his opposite-field power made him a candidate for teams that have inviting left field areas. And while it's likely he'll be playing in a new park in the near future, there's another elite left-handed hitter who we know will playing in a new park starting next month: Joe Mauer.
With the Minnesota Twins ditching the Metrodome for Target Field, everyone's wondering how it's going to affect the 2009 MVP. Mauer has hit 72 home runs in six years in the big leagues, including a career-high 28 a season ago. Of those 72, a staggering 46 percent have been hit to left field, and that number jumped to 58 percent a year ago. Since most of Mauer's power is to the opposite field, the dimensions that really matter to him in Target Field are the ones to left and left center.
According to Hit Tracker Online, each of Mauer's 2009 shots to left field went further than 350 feet. If Mauer continues to hit opposite-field home runs at this length, he'll rack up even more round-trippers, since the dimensions of Target Field suggest that left field may actually be more welcoming to hitters than the Metrodome. At the new park, left field measures in at 328 feet, and left-center at 371 feet; the Metrodome checked in at 343 feet to left and 385 feet to left-center.
We'll have to wait and see how the weather factors into the hitting environment, but based on the dimensions of the park, Mauer will love his new home more than his old one. And if the reports of him signing a long-term extension are true, he should be very happy in Target Field for years to come.
R.J. Anderson is an author of FanGraphs.