Posted by: Bob Gorman | July 16, 2019

Where Are the Most Dangerous Seats in the Ballpark?

All major league ballparks have now extended their protective netting to at least the far ends of their dugouts; a few have extended them even further.  The assumption is that fans seated in the most dangerous areas are now protected from screaming line drives and pinwheeling bats.  As recent fan injuries have tragically demonstrated, that assumption is a false one.  Spectators are still being struck by balls and bats at an alarming rate.  A recent study by FiveThirtyEight.com conclusively proved that those field-level sections immediately beyond the dugouts – areas that are still unprotected in most stadiums – are indeed the most dangerous.  Researchers looked at 906 foul balls in ten major league venues and here is what they found:

The scariest foul balls are those with high exit velocities, particularly the line drives, which give spectators only seconds — or fractions of a second — to react. Statcast was able to measure exit velocities for 580 of the 906 foul balls in our data set, and most of the hardest-hit of those 580 landed in areas that are primarily unprotected. Of the fly balls with recorded exit velocities of 90 mph or higher, 71.8 percent landed in zones 4 and 5 (see diagram below).  And all of the line drives that left the bat at 90 mph or more landed in those same zones.

It is long past time for MLB and MiLB to do the right thing by their fans and extend the netting all the way to the foul poles.  Anything less is unconscionable.


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