Lack of Standardization of Major League Baseball Fields

Posted on October 2, 2013 | in Baseball, Sports, Standardized Work | by

major league baseball fields infographicI’ve mentioned before that baseball prides itself on its symmetry and lack of rule changes over the years – the game 100 years ago is roughly the same game it is today.

However, the very surface upon which the game is played is completely non-standardized and lacks a whole lot of symmetry. Check out this infographic from Craig Robinson at Flip Flop Flyin (er, when it comes to baseball, Flip Flop Fly Ball) about the many different layouts of baseball fields used by Major League Baseball teams. (It’s also shown above, but his site has a bigger version.)

It’s hockey, basketball, and football that play their games on the same size fields/rinks from high school through the pros – not baseball.

The oddly-shaped ballparks across all levels of the game mean that different strategies must be employed to have higher chances of success. Fenway Park has the Green Monster in left field, which means a hitter can’t just hit the ball hard, he has to hit it high to get it over the wall. There is a short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium which means left handers could find success in trying to pull the ball.

Plug: I first saw this infographic many years ago via Rob Neyer when he was at ESPN and I’ve enjoyed Craig’s work with sports-related infographics and graphical arts over the years – give his blog a look. Highly recommended.

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3 Responses to “Lack of Standardization of Major League Baseball Fields”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I think this is a perfect illustration of how not all variation is bad. Does the variation affect the customer negatively? Does it increase cost?

    I think the variation in ballpark dimensions is part of the charm of the game.

    NHL rinks used to have far more variation in width and length, depending on the old arena. I think this has changed with the modern arenas and possibly in the NHL rules. I think there used to be as much as a 5 or 10 foot difference in some of the old barns.

    • Chad Walters says:

      I think that, in MLB, the lack of a salary cap means that teams can build their rosters however they want. That lack of symmetry “lines up” with the asymmetrical and non-standardized ballparks and a team can build a roster of players that will do well in the parks they play half their games in.

      A left-handed hitter is a dead pull hitter? I bet the Yankees might be interested. A righty with a big uppercut swing? Send him to Boston. Teams playing in bigger pitcher-friendly ballparks can spend money on strikeout pitchers that are homer-prone while teams in small ballparks should chase after sinkerballers or control artists (like Greg Maddux).

      The one issue I have with the non-standard field designs is the sharp corners (Wrigley Field) and weird quirks (Tal’s Hill in Houston – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1254702-6-reasons-houston-astros-should-remove-tals-hill-and-the-train) that could cause safety issues.

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