Not only will the Toronto Blue Jays feature several new faces on their roster next season, but the Rogers Centre is also receiving a much-needed facelift.
As part of the stadium’s offseason renovations, phase one of the $300-million project includes a significant overhaul in the outfield, with both home and away bullpens raised and multiple new fan engagement sections introduced. And with that, fans will no longer witness a cookie-cutter outfield layout in Toronto.
Previously, the Rogers Centre’s outfield dimensions were reasonably straightforward: 328 feet down both foul poles, 375 in the alleys and 400 in centre field. But starting next season, those dimensions will be drawn in, aside from the corners.
The most notable changes will occur in centre field, the largest section of the outfield, as left centre is shrinking to 366 feet and right centre to 357 feet, according to TSN’s Scott Mitchell. He also reported that centre field will draw closer by three feet, moving to 397.
Rogers Centre is going to be even more hitter-friendly moving forward.
Per sources, here are the expected new dimensions.
RCF alley moving in from 375 to 357(!) feet.
LCF 375 to 366.
CF from 400 to 397.
Lines expected to stay same at 328.#BlueJays
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) January 21, 2023
The Rogers Centre was already considered a hitter-friendly ballpark prior to these alterations, but the updated outfield will favour hitters even more.
It is also worth noting the yet-to-be-revealed outfield wall height, previously 10 feet high, will still factor into the equation moving forward. And yes, that means there won’t be an easily-accessible short porch in right field — similar to the one at Yankee Stadium — even with right centre reportedly shrinking by nearly 20 feet.
Scoring is still likely to increase, though, especially with an asymmetrical layout constructed. Defenders will have to maneuver different indents and cutouts, particularly in right field, unlike the previous structure that featured a much simpler design.
As seen above, the visitors’ bullpen extends beyond the outfield seating section, creating an easier home run target and a new obstacle for defenders. George Springer, the franchise’s everyday right-fielder, may require an adjustment period to his new defensive surroundings next season.
That sentiment is also true in left field, where the Blue Jays’ newly-renovated bullpen will create advantages for hitters and disadvantages for defences. The differences won’t be as extreme compared to right field, though.
These new dimensions are also probably another factor that prompted the front office to improve the club’s outfield defence this winter, replacing Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier.
New Blue Jays should love hitting at Rogers Centre in 2023
The Kiermaier-Varsho duo, along with fellow newcomer Brandon Belt, will likely be three notable beneficiaries of the Rogers Centre’s renovations, especially from an offensive standpoint. Together, all three lefties should witness increased production involving batted balls hit to the pull side.
Varsho, who led the majors in pull percentage (54.5 percent) last season, could witness a significant increase regarding his home run total in 2023. Since 2020, he’s had 14 batted-ball events (BBE) travel 357 feet or more to right field recorded as a base hit (excluding home runs) or an out. But most — if not all — of those BBEs should turn into round-trippers next season.
So after blasting a career-high 27 home runs in 2022, the former Arizona Diamondback should be poised to surpass the 30-home-run mark — and perhaps the 40-home-run mark, too — during his inaugural campaign with the Blue Jays.
Belt’s pull-side results will also likely benefit from leaving San Francisco, particularly the 25-foot wall in right field at Oracle Park, the second-tallest in MLB. And with 12 BBEs travelling at least 357 feet — all resulting in a base hit or an out — since 2020, he should have a much easier time replicating his 29 home runs from 2021.
Kiermaier, who’s never hit more than 15 home runs in a single season, shouldn’t encounter a significant power surge at the Rogers Centre next season but he could run into a few extra long balls.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Co. will enjoy it too
Lefties aren’t the only hitters expected to benefit from the favourable right-field dimensions, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk repeatedly displayed their opposite-field slugging last season. They weren’t always rewarded, though, as the duo combined for seven BBEs travelling at least 357 feet that didn’t result in a home run.
Bo Bichette, slashing .431/.426/.701 with a 222 wRC+ in 169 plate appearances to the opposite field last season, could also witness an uptick in performance when going the other way. But he’ll need to drive pitches farther to increase his home run output over right field, registering just one BBE of 357 feet in 2022 that wasn’t a round-tripper.
As for left field, the Blue Jays were already an offence that excelled at blasting home runs in that direction. With it becoming easier to do so, however, players like Guerrero, Bichette, Kirk, Springer, Matt Chapman and Danny Jansen should continue to enjoy strong home showings.
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