In an email to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Justin Morneau called the dimensions at Target Field “ridiculous” and said he was “very disappointed” that the Minnesota Twins decided not to move the fences in.
Is Morneau really worried about the team’s success or is he more concerned about his own personal achievements?
On the surface, it does look like Target Field is hurting the team’s production. According to ESPN.com, Target Field was the toughest park to hit a home run in this past season. As a team, the Twins hit only 52 home runs at home, while hitting 90 on the road. Morneau, despite hitting 18 home runs in only a half-season, and slugging a career-high .618, hit only four home runs at Target Field.
But let’s take a closer look. If we project Morneau’s numbers over a full season (he missed 81 games) and compare that to his career averages we get a much different picture…
Yep, his home run rate was indeed way off from his career average. But also notice that his batting average was up and his slugging percentage was nearly identical. Why? Because Target Field’s spacious dimensions produce doubles by the boatload. In fact, Target field was the fifth friendliest park for doubles this season.
So if Morneau was just as productive at home this season* and the Twins had the best home record in the American League (53-28), then why is Morneau so worried about the lack of home runs?
It’s gotta be the money.
Morneau is halfway through a six-year, $80 million contract signed prior to the 2008 season which will expire when he is 33 years old. At that point, Morneau will be looking for what will likely be his last big payday. And let’s face it, guys that hit 20 home runs a year don’t make as much as guys that hit 40.
It is not clear how more home runs will help the Twins win more than 53 games at home. But it is clear that more home runs will put more money in Morneau’s bank account. That and chicks. Chicks still dig the long ball.
* By one advanced metric (wOBA) he was actually a better hitter at home in 2010 (.397) than he was in 2009 (.384) or 2008 (.358).
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