The Giants’ offense has gotten a victory before the season has started.
Alfie Felder, who overseas the ballpark operations department, announced Thursday afternoon that the arches in right field will remain closed when the home portion of the schedule begins April 9. That might change as the season goes on and there hopefully is more safety in grouping together outside the park, but the ballpark change that may have played a part in allowing the ball to travel more last year will continue.
“The free-viewing area is a pretty iconic feature of the ballpark,” Felder said over Zoom on the day the Giants announced they should be able to host about 8,900 fans at Oracle Park for home games. “We want to bring it back, and we will bring it back when it’s safe to do so.
“At this point, we still have concerns in a COVID environment about people congregating in that area. And so for now, the covering will remain up.”
That is unfortunate for fans who want to peek through to get a view at baseball and for pitchers who want the wind to knock down more balls. But it is awfully encouraging for the Giants’ offense.
According to Fangraphs’ park factors, which attempts to evaluate how hitter friendly parks play, Oracle Park was dead last in the majors in 2019. Last year, it was up to 12th.
Plenty of other factors may have contributed to that, including the fact the shortened season was played in warmer months. The Giants also had moved the fences in slightly after the ’19 season in hopes of juicing up the offense a bit — but several around the team have said they thought the ball traveled easier last year.
Mike Yastrzemski did not realize the decision had been made, but he called it good to hear — for a different reason.
“I’m happy that I don’t have the cold wind blowing on my back all game,” the right fielder said before the Giants opened in Seattle on Thursday. “That’s the most important thing. I’m out there in the middle of July and August with hand warmers in my pocket.”
He did not want to point to the shut-out wind as a reason the Giants’ offense picked up last season, though, crediting their mentality under the trio of hitting coaches.
There will be more time to evaluate whether closing the arches allows the ball to travel deeper in San Francisco. They should be opened up at some point, but the Giants’ offense is in no rush.