When Target Field first opened in 2010, something unexpected quickly became evident. Although the park’s dimensions were somewhat modeled after the Metrodome, and the intent of Target Field was to be a ballpark that evenly favored both hitter and pitcher, everyone noticed that Target Field had seemingly become Petco Park Midwest. You didn’t need ESPN’s Park Factors to know that it was extremely difficult to hit the ball over the fence at 1 Twins Way, though Park Factors did confirm what we could see on FSN. Target Field’s HR park factor was 0.682, which demonstrated that Minneapolis was the hardest city to homer in all of MLB. To give you an idea of how this park factor is calculated, it’s:
Home HRS = HR hit at home
Home HRA = HR allowed at home
Away HRS = HR hit away
Away HRA = HR allowed away
Home G = Home games
Away G = Away games
Thus, a HR park factor of 1.000 meant that in a team’s season (say, the Twins), they would have hit and allowed an equal number of home runs both at home and on the road. Being less than 1.000, Target Field allowed significantly fewer home runs than all other ballparks combined that the Twins played in during the 2010 season, and thus had the appearance that it was a pitcher’s park.
While the home runs hit (or failed to be hit) at Target Field got all the press, many people conveniently ignored many other offensive stats at Target Field. Despite the dearth of big flies, Target Field allowed just slightly fewer runs than those other ballparks the Twins occupied in 2010 (0.962), it was virtually even in hits allowed (0.996), and was actually above average in doubles and triples (1.097 and 1.171, respectively). Although many of us argued that those home runs in the Metrodome were turning into outs at Target Field, in actuality they were turning into outs and doubles and triples.
In 2011, it was a different story, though it still painted Target Field in a negative light, at least from a hitter’s point of view. The ballpark was starting to trend more into the even field that was intended, but it still wasn’t entirely there. Target Field was still under 1.000 for runs (0.944), home runs (0.913), and now doubles and triples (0.930 and 0.943, respectively), while the hits were again virtually even (1.010). Thus, Target Field was still a pitcher’s park, but now only slightly.
This brings us to this season, and with the exception of the home runs, Target Field has actually started leaning towards being a hitter’s ballpark. That’s right. Take a look as Target Field has evolved since 2010 (MLB ranks are in parentheses).