Pitcher-friendly Petco Park no longer prevalent topic

HRs still rare in San Diego, but 'fence talk' is down

Pitcher-friendly Petco Park no longer prevalent topic

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres didn't want to draw any definitive conclusions about the field modifications that were made prior to the 2013 season until they had at least three years worth of data to mull over.

But after two years, one thing has become abundantly clear -- hitters have essentially stopped talking (complaining?) about how big Petco Park plays.

So does that finally mean kissing goodbye the Petco National Park moniker?

"It's that great," said Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein, who played a significant role in the studies and recommendations that went into the modifications. "I'm not hearing the fence talk at all."

A year after there were 21 "new fence" home runs at Petco Park, there were 16 in 2014. That number represents 15.8 percent of the 101 home runs hit at the ballpark, down from the 146 home runs that were hit last season (14.4 percent).

"Offense is down all the way across the industry, and if you look at that total, it makes sense ... since we pitched so well and we didn't hit that well," said Padres manager Bud Black.

The Padres had the fourth-lowest earned run average (3.27) in baseball, including a 2.56 mark at home, allowing 47 home runs. San Diego scored the fewest runs in baseball as several hitters underachieved last season, and the Padres hit just 54 home runs in 81 home games.

There were 9,600 runs scored in the National League last season, the fewest since 1995 (9,329 runs) and 503 runs scored at Petco Park compared to 598 a year ago.

The modifications entailed moving the right-field wall in 11 feet (402 feet to 391 feet) and also 12 feet in left-center field (402 feet to 390 feet). The wall in right field was lowered to a shade under eight feet to match the height of the rest of the outfield wall.

Some facts about Petco Park's "new fence" home runs from this past season:

• Month-by-month "new" home runs: April (one), May (two), June (two), July (six), August (two), September (three).

• Day/night splits: Day (four), night (12).

• "New" home runs splits: Padres (10), opponents (six).

• Players with multiple "new" home runs: Alexi Amarista (three), Jedd Gyorko (two).

Interestingly enough, of the 37 "new" home runs hit the last two seasons, all but two have been to right field. The only two hit to the area beyond the left-center field fence were hit by the same player -- Ryan Braun of the Brewers. One of those came in 2013 and one last season.

"What we're seeing now is more right-handed hitters go to the opposite field and seeing some balls that are home runs," Black said.

As stated before the wall modifications were unveiled prior to the 2013, the Padres wanted a ballpark that played more neutral, while acknowledging it still is -- and probably always will be -- a ballpark that rates as pitcher-friendly.

"The totals [of 'new fence' home runs] are different but the percentages have remained about the same ... and that's along the lines of what we've projected," Stein said. "The club feels it's removed the most extreme part of the ballpark.

"Whereas before [the big ballpark] was in about every conversation, we've sort of taken it off the table."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.