The ball has been flying out of Oracle Park at a rate never before starting last season. We may soon get a better idea why.
The Giants released a number ballpark changes that will take place starting June 15, when the state of California begins allowing large sporting venues to operate at full capacity. Most of those changes will only effect the game-day experience for the fans — social distancing, masks and vaccination proof will no longer be required — but there is one that could have a direct impact to the action on the field, and what flies out of it.
The right-field viewing area on the portwalk, which has been covered since the start of last season as a COVID-19 protocol, will be reopened. There is a belief by some, most notably Mike Krukow, that the closing of those archways has affected the wind patterns in the ballpark, and led to the ball traveling farther.
There was definitely a correlation last season, when the Giants’ averaged more home runs at home than on the road for the first time in the park’s history. That is not the case this year, though the numbers are still elevated, considering the home run rate at Oracle Park historically has been one of the lowest in MLB.
This of course does not account for a number of other factors, notably that the new bullpens in centerfield have also made it easier to hit home runs, and the fact that the Giants as a team just seem to be hitting the ball better.
That’s what Alex Dickerson believes is happening.
“It’s not as much the ballpark playing well, it’s our guys hitting well,” Dickerson said with an eye roll. “I’ve been saying that the last two years. You guys have been making up a bunch of stuff about putting a tarp up and it’s traveling better. We’re hitting the ball much harder.”
That the Giants are hitting the ball harder in general is somewhat undeniable. Their 88 home runs this season are the second highest mark in MLB, their 81 last year the 12th highest. This comes after five consecutive seasons where they didn’t finish higher than 26th.
Here are the rest of the changes you can expect at the ballpark come June 15 via the Giants:
Face Coverings: Face coverings are strongly recommended, particularly for fans who are not fully vaccinated and when accessing indoor spaces.
Food & Beverage: Customers will have the option to purchase food and beverages from vendors in the seating areas, order at concession stands or place orders through the mobile MLB Ballpark app. We encourage fans to place orders through the app to limit crowding and lines.
50/50 Raffle: Fans can support the Giants Community Fund and its flagship Junior Giants program while at the same time having the chance to walk away with a cash prize. 50/50 raffle ticket sellers will roam the stands selling tickets until the end of the 6th inning.
Ticket Sales: Tickets can be purchased online at sfgiants.com/tickets and in person at the Oracle Park Box Office on game days ONLY beginning 2.5 hours prior to game time up through the fifth inning.
Transit Updates: Caltrain’s post-game express service will resume for night games. Please go to sfgiants.com/transportation for evolving updates to transit services.
Entry Requirements: Fans are not required to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry to Oracle Park.
Tickets/Seating: In general, seating sections will return to full capacity. Season Ticket Members will return to their original seat locations and single game tickets will be available for individuals, groups and special events at full capacity. Initially, the Giants will offer a limited number of tickets in a socially distanced section, but the fully vaccinated sections will be discontinued. Fans can visit sfgiants.com/tickets for all ticket options.
Transit Updates: SF Bay Ferry will run direct to/from the park from Vallejo, Oakland and Alameda for the Bay Bridge series. There is still limited evening service on Bart. Please go to sfgiants.com/transportation for evolving updates to transit services.