Will Target Field favor hitters or pitchers?

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During pregame workouts Michael Cuddyer held court with the media here at Target Field and speculated that the Twins’ new ballpark will prove fairly neutral in terms of impacting run scoring.
That’s pretty difficult to tell after one season, let alone one game, but today at least a few well-stuck fly balls died in the gaps–especially to left and left-center–and the wind seemingly didn’t aid much of anything.
“It played pretty fair today,” manager Ron Gardenhire noted afterward while adding that the ball seemed to travel much better during this afternoon’s batting practice and the Twins’ two exhibition games against the Cardinals. “Some days the ball is really flying.”
Early on the Metrodome earned the “Homer Dome” nickname, but in recent years it actually suppressed power and perhaps played as much into the Twins’ organizational philosophies as the turf did. This year’s Twins lineup has tons of power, but for the most part having a ballpark that favored pitching and suppressed power–or was at least neutral–would likely be good news.
In addition to preferring good athletes with line-drive swings for position players, under pitching coach Rick Anderson the Twins have typically had a strike-throwing, fly-ball dominant staff. The dimensions here at Target Field lean slightly toward hitter-friendly, but there are no real quirks in the design aside from an overhang in right field and, for one game at least, the wind was on the pitchers’ side.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.