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Petco Park not homer-friendly, but much better than it used to be

Petco Park has seen more moments like this in the last couple of years. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

Petco Park isn’t a great home-run hitters’ park by any means, but it’s far from the home-run graveyard that it was in its first few seasons.

As Elias Sports Bureau research shows, in Petco Park’s first two seasons, the ballpark ranked 30th and 28th in the majors in at-bats per home run, and ranked better than 20th only once (2006, when it ranked 18th).

The ballpark ranked 29th two years in a row (2011 and 2012), then ranked 22nd and 28th in 2013 and 2014.

Ownership changed the park’s dimensions prior to 2013, moving the right- and left-center fences in by 11 to 12 feet -- from 402 to 391, and from 402 to 390.

In the last two years, the reduced dimensions began having a bigger impact. Last season, Petco was actually hitter-friendly, as it ranked 13th in fewest at-bats per home run (32.6). This season, it’s dropped back to 21st, (though keep in mind, all these numbers are largely based on the hitters who regularly play there).

In the last two seasons, Petco Park has been more prone to shorter home runs. The park has seen a sharp uptick in home runs of 400 feet or fewer in the last two seasons. There were 58 home runs of 400 feet or shorter in 2014, but 88 in 2015, and there have been 50 (on pace for 90) this season.

If there are any concerns about the volume of home runs during the Home Run Derby on Monday, consider this: 87 percent of the home runs hit this season would have been home runs at Petco Park.

Though that’s not a better venue than hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park in 2015 (where 92 percent of the league’s home runs would be homers), it’s considerably better than Target Field was in 2014 (79 percent), Citi Field in 2013 (75 percent), and Kauffman Stadium in 2012 (59 percent).