On Tuesday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies announced that two portions of the outfield fence will be raised by eight feet for the 2016 season. The right-center field wall in front of the bullpens will be raised 8 feet and 9 inches to match the height of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field at 16 feet-6 inches. Down the left field line between the foul pole and the beginning of the pavilion, the wall will be raised by 5 feet to a height of 13 feet.
A formula by the Rockies projected that the increase in wall height would reduce home run totals at Coors Field by 5-6 percent. Projections are great, but what can we learn from looking back at some of the things that happened during the 2015 season? The obvious place to start here is with Carlos Gonzalez; the Rockies' most prolific left-handed power hitter. He thinks the higher walls would have taken away only one home run in his 2015 season.
That seems encouraging, but we did him one better and found all of his 2015 home runs (there were eight) that were hit to one of the effected areas of the wall. Let's take a look at those eight home runs together.
1. June 6 off David Phelps, Miami Marlins
This one is close, but most likely would not have been a home run if hit to the same place in 2016. It didn't clear the wall by much and would've likely gone for a double or a triple, depending on the carom off the wall.
2. June 7 off Carter Capps, Miami Marlins
The very next day we have another home run that was in 2015, but would not be in 2016. This is the shot CarGo was referring to in the tweet above, and he's right that it would not have gone out with the raised walls. In 2016, this is probably a double rather than a round tripper. So, we have two home runs hit and two home runs that would not have gone out with the raised walls. Maybe this is more of a concern than we thought.
3. June 17 off Chad Qualls, Houston Astros
We're going to go out on a limb here and say this one would not have been affected by the new walls. It's a no doubter even with 30 foot walls, so let's move on. (But on a side note, if Chad Qualls could try not to make that a habit this season, that would be fine.)
4. July 24 of JJ Hoover, Cincinnati Reds
Not quite the no doubter of the previous home run, but this blast still cleared the wall by a good margin. This is still a home run in 2016, so at the halfway point we have two homers affected and two not affected. Let's keep going.
5. July 26 off Dylan Axelrod, Cincinnati Reds
This was not a fun game to be a Reds pitcher, but that's beside the point here. The important thing here is that it's another home run that easily cleared the wall and would still go out in 2016.
6. August 5 off Taijuan Waker, Seattle Mariners
CarGo took this shot off Walker to the back wall of the bullpen on the fly, so again we're looking at a ball that easily clears even the higher wall. That makes four straight that would not have been affected, so maybe this isn't quite the issue it initially appeared to be.
7. September 2 off Keith Hessler, Arizona Diamondbacks
Before moving on, let's take a brief moment to appreciate how fun it is to watch this dude hit homers. ... Okay, we can keep going now. Anyway, the home run in question here hit off the facade of the second deck, so an extra eight feet of wall would have obviously made no difference. Another homer even with higher fences.
8. September 3 off Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants
The eighth and final home run here is also the only one he hit into the small portion of left field that will have a raised wall in 2016. That's different. What isn't different is the fact that a higher wall would have had absolutely no effect on this home run. It cleared the wall by a whole lot more than five feet.
★ ★ ★
So, there we have it. Only two of his 40 home runs get taken away in a hypothetical world where the Rockies have already raised their fences for the 2015 season. Replace those two home runs with doubles and his OPS plummets from .864 all the way down to .857. That's not a huge difference, but it's certainly something tangible that will almost definitely have at least some impact on games. Just how much or what that impact is remains to be seen. That's why they play the games, right?