Mar 31, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; A general view of Marlins park before an opening day baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Miami Marlins. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Marlins replaced the outfield grass at Marlins Park this season as they continue to search for the correct variety to withstand the partially indoor conditions created by the retractable roof. Over the first two seasons of Marlins Park the team has had trouble keeping the outfield grass from withering and losing color.
After watching the first week of games, it appears the team made their way into Augusta National Country Club and stole some of the putting greens to put in the outfield. Take a look at the roll Christian Yelich gets on this liner over shortstop as a routine single turns into a stand up double:
It will be interesting to see if a faster outfield turns into more extra base hits this season. Every sharp liner could make its way all the way to the wall for a double or triple. Incidentally, the Marlins currently lead the National League in doubles and are second in triples. The Colorado Rockies, who played 4 games at Marlins Park, are second in doubles and lead the NL in triples. Could some of this be due to the quicker outfield grass?
In comparison, watch this similar liner over the shortstop from last season which only went for a routine single:
The St. Louis Cardinals of the mid 1980’s built a championship team to suit their artificial turf field. They used a team of speedsters whose offensive plan was to shoot grounders through the fast infield and outfield gaps of a field with deep dimensions in the outfield.
It has been well chronicled that the length of the outfield fences make hitting home runs difficult at Marlins Park, so maybe the team should employ a similar game plan to the Cards. If the outfield continues to play like an old AstroTurf field, the Marlins could concentrate on acquiring hitters who shoot balls into the gaps and have superior speed on the bases. On the current team, Yelich and Marcell Ozuna already seem to fit this model. Giancarlo Stanton has no problem with clearing the fences of any length, so his spot would be assured.
Do you think the Marlins should exploit their home park by adopting the gap hitting, base stealing style of the 80’s Cardinals? Or should they just move the fences in and realize that pitching and defense baseball is a thing of the past?