Many of us harbor fond memories of trotting off to the baseball park, sporting our tattered leather gloves with our parents in tow. One big reason fans continue to flock to this patriotic pastime is the hope of seeing their favorite player belt one out of the park. Here are the top five Major League Baseball stadiums where you can expect to see some offensive fireworks.
5. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs
Hey, Chicago, what do you say? They don’t call this the Windy City for nothing. And it shows in the offensive stats posted at Wrigley Field, and not just in recent years, such as 2008, when the Cubs led the National League in runs scored. Historical evidence also supports Wrigley’s reputation for offense. Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks belted 512 homers in a Cubs uniform, with 290 of those coming at Wrigley. Another slugging Cub middle infielder now in the Hall of Fame, Ryne Sandberg, showed even more of a propensity for hitting at Wrigley. He hit 164 home runs, batted .300 and had a slugging percentage of .491 at Wrigley, dwarfing his road stats (118, .269 and .412).
But Wrigley is No. 5, and not higher, on this list because it is utterly unpredictable. Wrigley frequently has day games where the wind blows in off nearby Lake Michigan and even Sammy Sosa in his prime had difficulty belting one out. However, as the summer progresses, the wind typically blows out, meaning good news for hitters.
4. Rangers Ballpark, Texas Rangers
Since Rangers Park opened in 1994, the Rangers have been in the top 10 in runs scored in Major League Baseball every year but two. In 2005, the Rangers belted an astounding 260 home runs, just four off the all-time record (set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners). In terms of structure, the layout of the park does not significantly differ from others, so there is an enigmatic presence surrounding the plentiful offense at Arlington. It’s been suggested that the brutal Texas heat during the summer wears down pitchers.
3. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox
Opening in 1991, the new home of the Chicago White Sox wasn’t particularly known for offense in its first decade of existence. But following the 2000 season, the team moved the outfield fences in, from 347 to 330 feet in left field, and from 347 to 335 feet in right field. The result? A home-run hitter’s paradise. From 2003 to 2010, U.S. Cellular Field ranked in the top four among all MLB stadiums in the Home Run Index. It was first or second five of those years, including 2010, when it boasted a whopping 1.545 Home Run Index (with any number over 1.000 favoring hitters). That was the highest mark since Coors Field checked in at 1.600 in 2002.
2. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds
With Cincinnati’s unexpected obliteration of the other teams in the NL Central in 2010, some wonder how much of that credit should go to Great American Ballpark. The Reds led the National League in home runs in 2010, confirming what Cincinnati fans already know — If you want to see someone hit a home run, go to Great American Ballpark. Between 2004 and 2009, 1,119 home runs were blasted out of Great American, most in the majors. Additionally, the success hitters enjoy there is painfully apparent for Reds pitchers, as no starter has posted better than a 3.21 ERA since the park opened in 2003, according to ESPN.com.
1. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
It should come as no surprise that the field at 2001 Blake Street is No. 1. Workers broke ground on Coors Field in 1992 and since then, it seems the park has been destined to put all pitchers to shame. Many attribute the lofty offensive stats to the lofty altitude at Coors. According to the team’s website, research has shown that a ball hit at Coors Field travels 9 percent farther than in a park at sea level. That helps explain some of the lofty home-run totals dating back to the days of Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla and the “Blake Street Bombers.” Whatever the case, Coors Field ranked second in 2010 in Major League Baseball with a 1.496 Home Run Index and led the league with a 1.364 Run Index.
One More: Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks
Although not nearly as good a park for home runs as the other stadiums on this list, Chase Field was in the top five among MLB parks in runs scored every year between 2005 and 2009.