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Remember when people thought AT&T Park was going to be a bandbox?

Apr 9, 2010, 12:16 PM EDT

AT&T Park.jpgIn my Twins preview I wondered how Target Field will play this season. We get a chance to see it in action on Monday. But based on Henry Schulman’s excellent walk down AT&T Park memory lane in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, we shouldn’t necessarily take what we see in the early going at face value:

For three months, everyone thought it would be great for hitters and
death for pitchers.In January, even before there was grass on the field, the Giants took
batting practice at what was then Pacific Bell Park on a foggy but
windless day. Bonds kept hammering balls over the right-field wall and
ended his session a happy man.

On April 1, 2000, the Giants played a night exhibition against the
Yankees, also on a windless night. Bonds christened McCovey Cove with
one of six homers hit that night.

In the regular-season home opener 10 days later, a 6-5 Dodgers
victory, 35-year-old Los Angeles shortstop Kevin Elster hit three home
runs, two off Rueter and one off Felix Rodriguez. Only four times in 12
previous seasons had Elster hit two in a game.

I remember Elster hitting those three homers, as it was nationally-televised. My first thought: total bandbox.  While AT&T doesn’t depress runs quite as much as it did a few years ago, it’s certainly not a hitter’s paradise.

Most people who know things about park effects know that you can’t get a good read on how a park plays for at least a couple of years. So, even though it’s the small-sample size season (Will Big Papi ever hit the ball again?!) we shouldn’t draw any conclusions from Target Field’s first few days. Or months. Or really even the year.

  1. Joe L - Apr 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    Bandbox. Nice.

  2. big fan - Apr 9, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    All of which didn’t stop Peter Gammons (HOF!) from decalring Yankee Stadium a disgrace after a few games last year. This from a Red Sox guy who has watched his home field produce undeserved batting crown winners and stupid fly balls becoming HRs (Yay Bucky!)

  3. APBA Guy - Apr 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    AT&T depresses home runs more so than hits. The wind blows in pretty hard in Spring, but lessens in Summer, and the heat helps the ball carry as well. Also, the Summer wind comes in more from left field (as opposed to center or right in Spring). But that 421′ right center Death Valley is always there, and unless you can really pull the ball hard down the right field line (like Bonds could), it will cost your team some home runs.

  4. J. McCann - Apr 9, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Only 3 things you really want to know about a park tell you if it is homer paradise or not:
    1. Power Alley measurements
    2. City elevation
    3. Game time temperature

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