New York Yankees slugging giant Aaron Judge leads the MLB with 14 home runs, but if Camden Yards — home of the Baltimore Orioles — did not change their dimensions with a new left field wall, Judge could have two or three more home runs.
The Bronx Bombers are one of the reasons why the Orioles management made a controversial decision to alter the dimensions of a throwback stadium and change it from a hitter’s friendly ballpark to a pitcher’s friendly park.
“Aaron almost had three more,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “But Build-Your-Own-Park got him.”
The Orioles and Yankees play in the American League East, where the Orioles have been the division doormat for the last decade or more. With their pitching ranks depleted, their low-rent hurlers gave up significantly more home runs than the average team. Add the smallish dimensions of Camden Yards, and the Orioles’ pitching staff served up the most home runs in the big leagues.
The Yankees lived up to their Bronx Bombers nickname whenever they visited Baltimore. The team loved road games at Camden Yards. It gave struggling hitters a chance to bust out of a slump, and it gave sluggers an opportunity to pad their long ball stats.
Camden Yards 2022: Where Home Runs Go to Die
Free agent pitchers avoided Baltimore because home runs flew out of the park. The Orioles were unable stack their starting rotation and bullpen with great arms, so they had no choice but to call an architect.
The Orioles brass begged for a redesign — something that maintains the integrity of the initial vision and throwback quality of Camden Yards, but something that will allow fewer home runs. The dual-pronged solution entailed moving the left field fence back 30 feet and raising the left field wall from seven feet to 12 feet.
The new-look outfield wall instantly served its purposed. Right-handed hitters are smacking fewer home runs, much to the dismay of the current home run leader.
ESPN Stats & Information indicated that only 1.8% of plate appearances resulted in a home run in 2022. In 2021, 4.5% of plate appearances ended up with a ball sailing over the outfield fence.
“I feel like it ruins the park,” said Judge about Camden Yards. “It was quite a beautiful park the way it was.”
“The stadium is a total gem,” said Orioles general manager Mike Elias. “We wanted to make it less of a homer haven.”
In an attempt to neutralize opposing sluggers, the new outfield wall also negatively affect the hometown power hitters. Even Trey Mancini — the Orioles best slugger — is also complaining about it.
“Nobody likes it,” Mancini told the Baltimore Sun. “No hitters like it, myself included.”
The new outfield wall resulted in fewer home runs, but the Orioles still suck. With a 15-24 record, the Orioles sit in last place in the AL East and 13.5 games behind the first-place Yankees. The Orioles are among the five worst teams in all of baseball.