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January 8 2007

Last year the Phillies moved the fences back in an effort to keep the ball in the yard at Citizens Bank Park.  Did it work?  It must have.  But if the goal was to help the Phillies' pitchers, even moving the fences back wasn't enough.  Phils' hurlers allowed 121 home runs at home in '06 compared to 107 at home in 2005, but that probably has a lot more to do with who their pitchers were than the park they pitched in.

Looking just at right and left-handed hitters and skipping the switch-hitters, most of the Phillies did about as well away from home as they did at home in terms of going yard.  Here's a look at where three of the big left-handed bats for the Phillies hit their home runs last season:

 

Player HR AB Home HR Home AB Away HR Away
Howard 58 282 29 299 29
Utley 32 322 16 336 16
Dellucci 13 128 6 136 7

And here's where righties Burrell and Rowand hit their long balls:

 

Player HR AB Home HR Home AB Away HR Away
Burrell 29 226 12 236 17
Rowand 12 225 6 180 6

Both groups of hitters socked more home runs away from Citizens Bank Park than they did at home, which should go a long way towards killing any argument that Howard or any of the other Phillies hitters got an advantage by hitting in Philadelphia.

Here's what the three players who had been with the Phillies in 2005 did that year:

 

Player HR AB Home HR Home AB Away HR Away
Burrell 32 287 20 275 12
Howard 22 143 11 169 11
Utley 28 271 12 272 16

It may be a while before there are enough data to demonstrate what we all know intuitively -- moving the fences back makes it harder to hit home runs.  One guy that you can cite if that's your argument is Burrell, who saw his home runs away from home go up while his home runs at home went down in 2006.  On the other hand, Jimmy Rollins' home runs exploded last season as he pounded 25, 15 of which came at home, coming off of a year where he hit just 12 in his home and away games combined.

This article argues that the Phillies should lock up Utley and Howard to long term contracts now.  That certainly is an argument likely to resonate with Phillies' fans.  However, you might want to wonder with Howard at least if the Phillies might wait for a year when he hasn't just hit 58 home runs and won the league MVP.

Brett Myers gets some attention in this article about violence in professional sports.

Jon Lieber throws his slider a lot.

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