Even more HRs in Toronto? New OF dimensions could do just that

April 10th, 2023

TORONTO -- In the early days of the planning of their $300 million renovations, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro went to his baseball operations staff and started with one question.

“Do we want to have a defined ballpark attribute?” he asked.

The group soon agreed against erecting their own Green Monster or Tal’s Hill, believing that a “neutral” ballpark is best for long-term planning. Getting fans closer to the action was the next priority, but the Blue Jays were battling concrete. For as well as Rogers Centre has held up, it’s a concrete behemoth that isn’t the most flexible, construction-wise, in some areas. This is where the dimensions came in.

“So we went to baseball operations and said, ‘OK, here’s the challenge. Can we play with fence height to create a neutral dynamic?’” Shapiro asked.

This led to the raised bullpens and new wall dimensions. Some of these have been significant, like the right-center wall moving in 16 feet but gaining four feet and four inches in height. For the first time in 33 years, the playing field itself will look fundamentally different ... and so will the results.

The Blue Jays expect this field to play neutrally in terms of home runs and runs scored, but “neutral” has some wiggle room. Our Statcast modeling shows that, comparing the 2023 dimensions to the ’22 data, this could turn up the offense.


• 26 non-homers from 2022 would likely go out
• Only seven home runs would likely stay in
• This likely adds 19 home runs from ’22 to ’23 (+one home run per 4.2 games)
• Adding 19 home runs would have ranked Rogers Centre 1st in MLB in ’22
• Three of Matt Chapman’s doubles from ’22 would be home runs in ’23

The short version? Line-drive home runs now have a better chance of being knocked down while the tall, soaring fly balls now have a better chance of clearing the wall.

Here are a couple of memorable examples from 2022 that fell just short, but would be home runs this summer and beyond:


Brandon Belt has spent most of his career hitting at Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park), where home runs go to die. He admitted that it was challenging for him, mentally, as a younger player to make quality contact and not see those results early.

Belt: “I’ll be honest with you, that’s part of the reason why I felt good about coming to the AL East. I was just curious to see what it’s going to be like over here and if it’s going to make a difference. It might not at all when you’re up at the plate. I know I’ve played at Rogers Centre before, and I loved it. It was a neutral field. I think that’s all you can ask for as a hitter.”

George Springer: “It’s definitely going to be a bit trickier now. It doesn’t just look like your standard-issue baseball field. There [are] going to be quirks in the wall and it’s higher now, it’s closer in some places. Getting there, walking the track, seeing how the ball will bounce and seeing how the ball will fly, that’s going to be huge for me.”

Kevin Gausman: “It’s never going to be a pitcher’s park, so as long as you know that going in. It’s not Yankee Stadium. There [aren’t] going to be any cheap homers. That’s one thing I’ve always felt about Rogers Centre. Yes, it’s a hitter’s park, but usually the home runs you give up aren’t nail-biter homers anyways."


Soon after Kevin Kiermaier signed with Toronto, his mind went to how the Blue Jays can “do everything in our power to make [the new dimensions] play to our advantage.”

Kiermaier: “The new dimensions, moving the walls in, it’s going to let [Vladimir Guerrero Jr.] and all these big guys hit that many more homers. On the defensive side, it will help us a lot more than it will hurt us, because we have very good outfielders out there.”

Manager John Schneider: “Whether you’re going to Yankee Stadium, Fenway or even Baltimore now in our division, there [are] some little things here and there you have to get used to. I think it can be a home-field advantage. At the beginning, it’s going to be new for everyone, obviously. … It’s our job to get used to it, and playing 81 games [here] instead of a three- or four-game series, we should have a little bit of an advantage.”