It only takes one look at the hitting stats for the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field to realize why the fences are taking a big step towards homeplate.
The Mariners have had one of the worst offenses in all of the major leagues the last few years, and playing in the incredibly spacious Safeco Field hasn't done any favors. As fan frustration seemed to hit a boiling point this year after watching towering fly ball after towering fly ball get caught at the warning track, the organization decided it was time to bite the bullet and pull the fences in a bit.
"Our goal was to create an environment that is fair for both hitters and pitchers,'' Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. "Considering the current field dimensions as well as the climate in and around Safeco Field, we feel this will be accomplished with this new layout."
Zduriencik also pointed out the issues that come with the Mariners playing so many games in such a hard place to hit the ball out of the park makes it hard on the hitters, especially the youthful Mariners.
Jack Zduriencik on moving the fences "When you play 81 games in an extreme ballpark it does have an impact and we're trying to make it fair"— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynESPN) October 2, 2012
As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times wrote, the issue isn't as simple as making it easier for the youngsters to hit it out of the park. The Mariners haven't been able to attract a marquee slugger to the Pacific Northwest, and the reputation of Safeco Field probably has a lot of unspoken say about that.
No player, even a handsomely compensated one, is going to want to go to a place where (the baseball world is convinced) his statistics would shrivel up. And trust me: Every hitter in baseball knew about the offensive problems at Safeco. Now, the Mariners stand a fighting chance of convincing players -- particularly right-handed hitters -- that they can come to Seattle and not wither away.