Mike Schmidt is a Hall of Famer, thanks in large part to the 548 home runs that he hit during his illustrious career. Still, the three-time National League MVP’s interest is piqued in thinking about how much success he would have if he played for the Philadelphia Phillies today.
“You could put Citizens Bank Park…and I say this with all due respect, the players didn’t build the stadiums…you could put it inside of the Vet,” Schmidt said on Bret Boone’s podcast. “Just the playing field itself, you could put Citizens Bank Park inside of Veterans Stadium. And, when you think about it, I flew out to the warning track probably 50 times a year. And that’s a conservative estimate at the Vet, right? And every ball I hit to the warning track is a home run now.”
While the right and left field foul poles were nearly identical distances from home plate at Veterans Stadium to what they are at Citizens Bank Park, center field at Veterans Stadium was 408 feet, as opposed to 401 at Citizens Bank Park. It’s difficult to quantify exactly how many more home runs Schmidt would have hit if he played at Citizens Bank Park, but it probably is a non-insignificant amount. Schmidt had tremendous longevity as is, but playing his home games on the natural grass at Citizens Bank Park, as opposed to Astroturf at Veterans Stadium, likely would have helped improve his career numbers as well.
In fairness to Schmidt, this was not a case of someone who played in the 1970s and 1980s suggesting that players today have it easier. Far from it, really. While Schmidt acknowledged that he would have made much more money if he played today, he said he isn’t jealous of those who have to play during an era with social media.
Additionally, the 71-year-old doesn’t envy today’s players having to face bullpens full of electric arms.
“Oh, are you kidding, you’re absolutely right,” Schmidt said when talking about how in today’s game you don’t necessarily want to knock the starting pitcher out to get to the bullpen. “I watch the Rays play – you can’t get a hit. How do you score on that bullpen?…The worst pitcher in that bullpen was their closer. It’s amazing, you hit the nail on the head, Brett. I wouldn’t want to be hitting nowadays. There’s so many 6’4, 6’5, 6’6 guys throwing somewhere in the 95 mph range that can hit 98 basically if they want to. And they are licking their chops because they know all these hitters, they are teaching the upswing to all these hitters and that’s why you see the catcher place the glove just above the waist. And they just ride that fastball up in there, and hitters cannot touch it – they can’t touch it [a high fastball]. It’s just a tough, tough road to hoe to be a hitter nowadays.”
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