Blue Jays: How will new Rogers Centre dimensions change baseball in Toronto?
Which pitchers should we be worried about?
If the team intends to maintain a neutral offensive environment, there shouldn't be a significant effect on pitchers. But we should still look to see which starters might be more susceptible to problems with a cozier outfield and a possible change in the type of offense we see at the Rogers Centre.
Let's start with José Berríos. According to FanGraphs, he gave up 39 hits (28 homers and 11 doubles) on hard-hit fly balls, by far the most by a Jays' starter. A third of those were pulled to right by left-handed batters, who managed 10 home runs.
Berríos' 39.7% fly ball rate isn't glaringly bad, but his 13.5% HR/FB rate could spell trouble. Statcast measured a 43.4% hard-hit rate for the righty, a mark topped only by Yusei Kikuchi's 46.9%.
The only starter with a higher fly ball rate in 2022 than Berríos was Alek Manoah, at 41.9%. The difference is Manoah is exceptionally good at inducing weak contact. He only gave up 15 home runs on hard-hit fly balls and kept a tidy 7.1% HR/FB rate.
According to Statcast, the big righty had the lowest hard-hit rate among Jays starters, at 31.5%. On top of that, his 5.4% barrel rate ranked fifth among qualified pitchers in the majors.
While Kevin Gausman gave up 63 hard-hit fly balls, accounting for 15 home runs, his xFIP of 2.75 should alleviate any worries about him being harmed by the smaller outfield. With an impressive strikeout rate of 10.56 K/9 — the best way to stop balls leaving the yard — an 8.5% HR/FB rate, and a league-average 38% hard-hit rate, he should fair okay in 2023.
Newcomer Chris Bassitt should also fair favorably in his new home, bringing a 48.8% ground ball rate with him to Toronto. His Statcast marks of a 32.8% hard-hit rate and a low 6.6% barrel rate should bode well in 2023.
All that being said, we won't really know how the new dimensions affect play until we see it with our own eyes and gather enough data points to understand for certain what the offensive environment of the new Rogers Centre will look like.