Will The New Outfield Dimensions At Rogers Centre Impact How Oddsmakers Set Totals, Home Run Props?

Last Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the new dimensions and heights of their outfield walls at Rogers Centre, which is undergoing a massive $300 million renovation over the next few years.

Down the foul lines and straightaway center field will remain the same distances, but some of the distances to the alleys have been significantly reduced. Wall heights have also been reconfigured around the ballpark, with several areas in the outfield getting a boost above the original height of 10 feet.

How will these changes impact the play on the field moving forward and could the changes alter how oddsmakers set betting lines, such as totals and home run props, moving forward? Analytics staff from the team were consulted on the remodelling of the outfield dimensions with the intention to not “dramatically alter Rogers Centre’s competitive nature,” according to Rogers Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling.

However, the shorter fences could favour fly ball hitters that have a tendency to lift the ball into the alleys, and the taller fences (up to 14 feet in some sections) could lead to some tricky bounces for outfielders and also take away their ability to scale the wall and rob hitters of home runs.

Furthermore, there are also plans to reduce the amount of foul territory on the field at Rogers Centre, which means fewer foul balls could result in outs moving forward. That could lead to extended plate appearances and give hitters extra attempts to produce runs.

Rogers Centre was already considered a hitter-friendly ballpark prior to the renovations. The venue had a home run factor of 1.159 (a rate higher than 1.000 favours the hitter; below 1.000 favours the pitcher) last year, the eighth highest among MLB ballparks. Unsurprisingly, the high altitude at Coors Field in Colorado has given the Rockies’ home park the distinction of the most hitter-friendly venue in the majors with a home run factor of 1.504.

The ball also had a higher tendency to leave the ballpark when the roof at Rogers Centre was open last year, according to Baseball Savant. When the roof was closed, the home run park factor was only 100 (league average), but that number jumped to 127 during open-air games at the stadium. Hot and humid conditions are very common across Southern Ontario during the summer months, and that contributes to an increase in home runs when the roof is open. Of course, there are also many other factors in play here like wind speed and direction, and the strength of the visiting opponents.

The Blue Jays posted an 84-75-3 over/under record last year, which made them the best “over” play in the American League. They scored 775 runs as a team (fourth in the majors) while allowing 679 runs (13th in MLB).

Six Blue Jays players — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (39), George Springer (29), Bo Bichette (26), Matt Chapman (26), Daulton Varsho (26), and Danny Jansen (21) — have Steamer projections on FanGraphs to hit at least 20 home runs this season. Last year, the Blue Jays ranked seventh in team home runs with 200, 54 long balls behind the New York Yankees who led the majors in that category. If Toronto’s Steamer projections are accurate this year, the Blue Jays will launch 234 homers as a team.

Varsho, who was acquired by the Blue Jays in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in December, is one player that is projected to greatly benefit from the new outfield and wall dimensions at Rogers Centre this season.

An oddsmaker’s take

It’s impossible to tell for sure how these changes will affect play on the field until the Blue Jays play their first home game on April 11 against the Detroit Tigers, and at least one oddsmaker is going to take a wait-and-see approach with his handicapping of games being played in Toronto.

“While it’s definitely something that is on our radar, we will treat the Rogers Centre dimension changes more retroactively rather than proactively,” PointsBet Trading Content Analyst Mike Korn told Canada Sports Betting. “We don’t want to overadjust our markets and will let our sharper players help dictate where the lines need to be set at. We have handled park dimension updates similarly in the past and have had success using this method. Ultimately, the game still comes down to the players, so heading into the season we will have to trust our numbers while remaining vigilant for any trends.”

Last year, the Blue Jays were a popular wager to win the World Series, but they suffered an early playoff exit at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. This year, Toronto has the seventh shortest odds at PointsBet to win it all.

“We currently have the Blue Jays at +1400 to win the World Series, +700 to win the American League pennant, and +185 to win the AL East (New York Yankees are the favorite at +100),” Korn added. “Toronto has definitely had an impressive offseason so far. We originally opened them at +1500 to win the World Series, but shifted that into its current price of +1400 more recently. I expect them to get a lot of attention in the futures markets, specifically in Ontario. They are currently our most bet team to win the American League in Ontario”

PointsBet is also planning to open its MLB season win total markets in the next few weeks. Back in November, FanGraphs projected Toronto to claim 88 wins in 2023. However, that projection was made prior to several impactful free agent signings and trades across the league.

In addition to the remodelling out of the outfield at Rogers Centre, the organization has raised the bullpens beyond the outfield walls and brought fans closer to the wall and action. Four new “neighbourhoods” have also been added to the stadium, including bars and social areas for fans. All of the planned renovations at the ballpark are expected to be completed by the 2025 season.

Just a reminder that baseball season is right around the corner as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in less than two weeks.