The Real Tal’s Hill Issue

TAL'S HILL MINUTE MAID PARK HOME OF THE HOUSTON ASTROS

TAL’S HILL
MINUTE MAID PARK
HOME OF THE HOUSTON ASTROS

 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros posted a 20-8 record this season. He was 6-8 on the road, but an amazing unbeaten 14-0 at home. The amazement extended to many writers feigning or failing to see why he did so well at home. “What is there about this ballpark that makes for Keuchel’s huge success at home?

If you really want to know, we suggest, pay attention next season to how effectively Keuchel gets batters on long fly outs to CF. Keuchel is the kind of pitcher who was almost tailor-made for Minute Maid Park. He somehow knows the way to use that larger CF portion of the field as the place where would be homers now go to die. Now that a year’s delay in the demolition of Tal’s Hill has been pushed back until after 2016, there is still time to do a really effective study next year of how many extra HR will be leaving the field of play once the proposed new dimensions are in place, bringing the deepest part of cf in closer from 336 feet to 404 feet.

 

CURRENT FIELD VIEW MINUTE MAID PARK WITH LINE DRAWN IN CENTER FIELD TO SHOW EHERE THE NEW CF FENCE WILL BE AFTER THE REMOVAL OF TAL'S HILL.

CURRENT FIELD VIEW
MINUTE MAID PARK
WITH LINE DRAWN IN CENTER FIELD TO SHOW WHERE THE NEW CF FENCE WILL BE LOCATED AFTER THE REMOVAL OF TAL’S HILL.

The new fence is expected to be curved and not straight across, as The Eagle has depicted in these two views of the same MMP field. That’s not what matters. What matters is that MMP is about to be transformed into the biggest HR band box in baseball, once the removal of Tal’s Hill has finally taken place.
WHEN TAL'S HILL IS REMOVED, THE DEEPEST POINT IN CF WILL DROP FROM 336 FEET TO 404 FEET.

WHEN TAL’S HILL IS REMOVED, THE DEEPEST POINT IN CF WILL DROP FROM 336 FEET TO 404 FEET.

Here are the current MMP fence area distances from home plate:
  • Left field – 315 feet
  • Left-center – 362 feet
  • Center field – 435 feet
  • Deepest point – 436 feet
  • Right-center – 373 feet
  • Right field – 326 feet

Bottom Line: In 16 full MLB seasons, there have been no serious injuries at MMP due to the presence of Tal’s Hill and the flagpole in center field. The primary motivation here is not so much its removal for player safety, but for the creation of more revenue stream space. Nothing wrong with that either, unless it turns MMP into the kind of HR band box that no worthwhile pitcher will want to call “home.”

More detailed study is needed in 2016 of how many additional HR the proposed changes are going to make possible. We think an honest full season look at these numbers will answer the question of why Dallas Keuchel was able to go undefeated at home and finish with a 14-0 record at MMP. Keuchel is one of those guys who uses the “K” in tandem with an uncanny ability for retiring batters on long fly balls to the present death valley distances of MMP’s “Polo Grounds” like configuration.

All we are asking for here is a full season accounting in 2016 – not the one sentence brush off we’ve already received from the Astros that (paraphrasing here) “we’ve checked out the extra homer question and it’s not going to be so bad”. If these fence distance changes will harm the effectiveness of any Astros pitcher like Dallas Keuchel, many of us fans don’t want them.

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eagle-0range

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4 Responses to “The Real Tal’s Hill Issue”

  1. shinerbock80 Says:

    Save the Hill.

  2. Mark W Says:

    I think the proposed alterations are a mistake.

  3. gregclucas Says:

    I am one of those who is concerned about the shorter distances in the middle of the field unless a counter move is made to lengthen things elsewhere. For instance I would be in favor of knocking off the first two or three rows of the Crawford boxes to make LF deeper. The seats lost could be constructed on the train platform (There is plenty of room up there without having to remove the train.) Call ’em Sky View seats. The psychological effect on some pitchers by closing things in is more significant than how many more homers would actually be hit with a shorter CF than records show. Good pitchers can pitch to the ballpark. There will be no “comfort level” for those pitchers if LF remains so close, RF has a low wall and now CF is closing in. Yes, 400 feet is pretty standard in most parks, but most parks don’t have RF and LF so inviting.

    • Rick B. Says:

      Great point about the psychological effect – all we have to do is remember how Jose Lima went from a 21-game winner to a complete disaster because he psyched himself out when he saw MMP for the first time.

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