Should the Rockies play with four outfielders in Coors Field?

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I once had a teacher who said that “the only dumb question is a question not asked.” I don’t totally believe that as I’ve heard a LOT of dumb questions in my life which would’ve been better off not being asked. The sentiment, however, has a core truth, at least as far as questions asked in good faith.

One question Patrick Saunders and Buster Olney have asked in recent columns was whether the Rockies should, when certain hitters come to the plate, shift to a four-outfielder set as a means of cutting off the huge gaps and Coors Field. For the record, Saunders asked Rockies manager Walt Weiss about it and Weiss thinks the idea is nuts.

It’s an interesting question which, on the surface, based only on what we think we know about Coors Field, seems appealing. But it’s the sort of thing that would need more than “it could be a good idea” thinking before being considered. I couldn’t imagine even entertaining the notion until someone could show me a plot of all of the extra base hits against my guys over the course of, like, three seasons, with little red dots showing me which ones likely would’ve been outs if there had been a fourth outfielder. Then I’d need to see the numbers on how often gimme grounder outs which were made wouldn’t have been if a shift to a fourth outfielder had been made. And then I’d need to see distinct tendencies with respect to specific hitters to make sure it’s not just a good percentage play in the aggregate but that it would be a good percentage play against any given guy.

My guess is that Weiss is right that there wouldn’t be enough of a benefit to it, especially once you adjust for the fact that the players would be super weirded out by it for a bit. If you’re saving a run or two over the course of a lot of games, is it really worth discombobulating Trevor Story three times a game? Probably not.

But I like crazy questions like that. And figure that, as a result of them someone, somewhere, is putting together that plot of extra base hits in Coors Field and that we’ll have a good article about it at some point soon.