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Ballparks-How Much Do They Effect the Players?
by Ray Flowers
May 31, 2004 - Parts I & II

We all know that you shouldn’t pick a pitcher from Colorado, its almost as obvious as saying don’t stick your hand in that flame cause its gonna hurt. But would it surprise you to learn that in 2003 Coors Field wasn’t necessarily the best hitting park in baseball? In fact it merely ranked 4th in runs scored last year based on home/away splits in relation to the other major league stadiums. Confused? Well don’t be, we’ll explain it. 

In PART I of this article we’ll present statistical analysis that delineates which parks were the hardest/easiest to homer in and the hardest/easiest to score runs in. In PART II of this article we’ll speak specifically to some pitchers in regards to their new home parks, and tell you if you should be surprised with the way that they have performed thus far in 2004.

PART I  

The basic premise in this section is that we want to compare how ones home park performed in relation to the other 30 parks in major league baseball (there are only 30 teams, but the Expos played in two different “home” parks last year bringing the total parks in MLB last year to 31). We will attempt to present analysis that helps to neutralize the effects that a park might have on its hitters and pitchers. In order to meet this aim, we will compare the amount of homers hit in each park, and in the next section how many runs were scored at each park (see The Bill James Handbook, 2004 Edition, pp.287-300 for a review of Park Indices).  

In these computations 100 is the average of all major league parks, so if you score 100 your park is neutral (meaning that the same amount of HR were hit at home and on the road during all games played by that team). However, if your score is 134 like Colorado, your park indices is 34% higher than the average NL park (meaning that Coors Field yielded 34% more HR in 2003 than the average NL park). Conversely, if the park scored an 81 like San Francisco, it means that Pac Bell was 19% harder to homer in than the average NL park. Simple enough right? Your already on your way to being a sabermatician (a fancy math guy for baseball)! 

***If you want to see the actual formula used in our calculations, it is located at the end of this article. 

Ballpark HR ratios
:
100 = The League Average 

Anaheim

84

 

Atlanta

88

Baltimore

109

 

Cubs

97

Boston

92

 

Cincinnati

118

White Sox

134

 

Colorado

134

Cleveland

71

 

Florida

77

Detroit

88

 

Houston

112

Kansas City

108

 

Los Angeles

121

Minnesota

103

 

Milwaukee

121

NYY

100

 

Montreal*

139

Oakland

95

 

NYM

85

Seattle

104

 

Philadelphia^

85

Tampa Bay

81

 

Pittsburgh

90

Texas

123

 

San Diego^

82

Toronto

116

 

San Francisco

81

Arizona

108

 

St Louis

81

* The Expos played at two home fields (Exhibition Stadium and Hiram Bithorn) in 2003. During their 72 “home games” there were 158 HR hit, while during their 72 road games there were 111HR hit.

^ Philly and San Diego have new stadiums this year.  

Here is the list, not in alphabetical order, but from the easiest park to homer in (Montreal) down to the hardest (Cleveland). A positive sign means above average, while a negative sign means below average. 

Montreal

+39

 

Cubs

-3

Colorado

+34

 

Oakland

-5

White Sox

+34

 

Boston

-8

Texas

+23

 

Pittsburgh

-10

Los Angeles

+21

 

Atlanta

-12

Milwaukee

+21

 

Detroit

-12

Cincinnati

+18

 

NYM

-15

Toronto

+16

 

Philadelphia

-15

Houston

+12

 

Anaheim

-16

Baltimore

+9

 

San Diego

-18

Kansas City

+8

 

San Francisco

-19

Arizona

+8

 

St. Louis

-19

Seattle

+4

 

Tampa Bay

-19

Minnesota

+3

 

Florida

-23

NYY

Even

 

Cleveland

-29

 
Ballpark RUN ratios:
100 = The League Average 

Anaheim

89

 

Atlanta

90

Baltimore

93

 

Cubs

95

Boston

108

 

Cincinnati

96

White Sox

96

 

Colorado

125

Cleveland

87

 

Florida

95

Detroit

90

 

Houston

106

Kansas City

131

 

Los Angeles

83

Minnesota

101

 

Milwaukee

104

NYY

92

 

Montreal*

133

Oakland

85

 

NYM

99

Seattle

96

 

Philadelphia^

86

Tampa Bay

95

 

Pittsburgh

100

Texas

123

 

San Diego^

82

Toronto

115

 

San Francisco

101

Arizona

126

 

St Louis

92

* The Expos played at two home fields (Exhibition Stadium and Hiram Bithorn) in 2003. During their 72 “home games” there were 713 Runs scored, while during their 72 road games there were 524 Runs scored.

^ Philly and San Diego have new stadiums this year.  

Easiest to Score a Run to the hardest is what this next list records. A positive sign means above average, while a negative sign means below average. 

Montreal

+33

 

Cincinnati

-4

Kansas City

+31

 

Tampa Bay

-5

Arizona

+26

 

Cubs

-5

Colorado

+25

 

Florida

-5

Texas

+23

 

Baltimore

-7

Toronto

+15

 

St. Louis

-8

Boston

+8

 

NYY

-8

Houston

+6

 

Detroit

-10

Milwaukee

+4

 

Atlanta

-10

Minnesota

+1

 

Anaheim

-11

San Francisco

+1

 

Cleveland

-13

Pittsburgh

Even

 

Philadelphia

-14

NYM

-1

 

Oakland

-15

White Sox

-4

 

Los Angeles

-17

Seattle

-4

 

San Diego

-18

 

A few thoughts….

~ So the Expos really did get a huge advantage last year… well at least their hitters did (pity their poor pitchers).
~ Oh, while we kind of belittled Colorado at the beginning of this article, it still finished pretty darn strong didn’t it?
~ LA was a stingy place as far as runs scored (83) but a pretty advantageous place for HR in comparison to LA’s road games (121).
~ Good old Wrigley Field in Chicago was BELOW average for the Cubbies in both categories (HR and Runs) compared to their road affairs.
~ Boston’s Fenway Park ends up breaking even…92 in the HR ratio (-8) and 108 (+8) in the runs ratio…who would have thunk it?  

In PART II we’ll combine this park information with some pitchers tendencies and see if their statistical record is about what we would have figured…or if not, why. 

*** Formula:
 

Home/Away = Ratio
OR
HOME (X/AB) / AWAY (X/AB)
 

X= whatever stat you are analyzing (in our two cases either HR or Runs). 

Simple right? Let’s give an example. Let’s take a look at Colorado and the amount of HR hit during the Rockies games (REMEMBER, it is the total amount of HR recorded by BOTH teams at each location). Here is the record for all games involving Colorado last year.

      HR AB

    Home

    202

    5050

    Road

    151

    5043

 
HOME 202 HR / 5050 AB = 0.04
AWAY 151 HR / 5043 AB = 0.0299 

0.04 / 0.0299 = 1.337 (rounded up to 1.34) 

1.34 = 134 (we remove the decimal to make it more convenient to read). 

What does this stat represent? What we are saying is that if you divide the HR ratio (HR/AB) of Coors Field by the HR ratio of all other parks during Colorado’s away games, Coors Field was 34% easier to hit a HR in than any other park Colorado played its away games in during the 2003 season. 

To figure out the Runs ratio use the same formula…just substitute Runs for HR.  

Two last points:

(1) Don’t forget it is the total by BOTH teams at each location (home/away) that we are counting.

(2) Ballpark Ratios do NOT include interleague games because: (a) of the use of the DH in AL parks, and (b) because of the unbalanced nature of the interleague schedule where teams play only a fraction of the teams in the other league.

RAYS NOTES

Did you know that the single game record for most fans at a major league game is 93,103 on May 7, 1959 when the Dodgers played at L.A. Memorial Stadium (it was a memorial benefit against the Yankees to raise money for Roy Campanella). The smallest crowd on record? 12, on September 27, 1881 when the Chicago White Stockings played the Troy Trojans (rain apparently kept the fans away). 

PART II

What follows will be a listing of various pitchers and how they have faired so far this year. We KNOW that you simple cannot gauge a pitcher based solely on a couple of stats or on the park he pitches in…some pitchers are just better than any of that. However, doesn’t the park play at least some role in the final outcome of each game? Either way, it’s an interesting endeavor to undertake, and since we’ve gone this far, we’re going all the way (please indulge us in our love of inane statistical analysis, a love we hope you share). 

We will take a look at seven pitchers who switched clubs in the off-season. First we will list each pitchers stats from 2003 (including the HR/Run ratios from their teams home stadiums from 2003). In the 2nd column we will list the pitchers current 2004 stats with one twist: for the HR/Run ratio sections in the 2004 column, we will use the 2003 numbers for their current home park (which they are new to this year). 

*HR/Run ratios measure how many HR/Runs were hit, and scored, at the home park of each pitcher based against their teams road performance and those figures are then compared to the other teams in the league (For a full description see: http://www.drafthelp.com/MLB_Guest_Ballparks.htm). If you recall 100 is average…a score of 112 means that it is 12% above average…a score of 92 means that it is 8% below the league average.

** G/F Ratio = The amount of groundballs given up per flyball, i.e., 2.03 means that pitcher allows 2.03 groundballs for every flyball.
*** HR/IP = measures how many HR are given up per inning.
 

CLEMENS 2003 2004

HR Ratio

100

112

HR/IP

.11

.07

Run Ratio

92

106

ERA

3.91

2.51

 
PETTITTE 2003 2004

HR Ratio

100

112

HR/IP

.10

.03

Run Ratio

92

106

ERA

4.02

3.51

 
Well, both Clemens and Pettitte have been able to maintain their winning ways, and in fact both have thrived thus far. Pettitte is about where you would think, but Clemens, he has been too good. If you take into account the fact that Minute Maid is a pretty good hitters park by both stated methods (HR/Run ratios), Clemens just doesn’t figure to keep this up. However maybe we aren’t giving him enough credit since he has upped his groundball rate considerably this year (from 1.27 last year to 2.03 this year. Perhaps he is pitching away from his home parks weaknesses and to it’s strengths i.e. away from the flyball because of Minute Maids low fences and short porch in left). But that ERA just doesn’t figure to be below 3.50 or so by the end of the year, and he isn’t going to go undefeated this year (we don’t care if he won 16 straight decisions in 2001, it ain’t gonna happen again). You might want to sell high. 

Pettitte, well he’s just what you would assume…Pettitte. But watch out for that tender arm…temper your enthusiasm. 

K.BROWN 2003 2004

HR Ratio

121

100

HR/IP

.05

.11

Run Ratio

83

92

ERA

2.39

3.59

Brown has been winning like always (6-1), but he has dominated the D-Rays (4-0, 1.88 ERA, .91 WHIP) while not doing so well against everyone else (2-1, 4.05, 1.35). He also has allowed HR at a higher rate than before, and his G/F ratio has drastically gone up to favor flyballs (3.37 last year, 1.62 this year…not a good sign for a sinkerballer). Put his age, 39, together with his history, and you have another guy who while he is still productive when healthy, might be a guy you’d want to move.  

VAZQUEZ 2003 2004

HR Ratio

139

100

HR/IP

.12

.15

Run Ratio

133

92

ERA

3.24

3.67

Vazquez has been all that the Yankees hoped for (something especially needed with the struggles of on again off again Mike Mussina). Of note: His Whip stands at .99 right now, his batting average against at .204, and his OPS against is .616 (compared to last years totals of: 1.11, .229, .656). He’s moving into his prime, and with the ballpark change, you have to figure Vaz will continue his ascent amongst the best pitchers in the game.  

 

COLON 2003 2004

HR Ratio

134

84

HR/IP

.12

.22

Run Ratio

96

89

ERA

3.87

5.19

Colon scares us right now. Before the season there were reports that his elbow was about ready to blow out. You look at him on the mound and all he needs is a white beard and a red suit to be Santa Claus. Sure the man throws unmitigated gas, but what happened to the winner we knew? A 5.19 ERA and 13 HR in 61.1 innings are totals that would scare even the most hardened soul on a Halloween night.  

REDMAN 2003 2004

HR Ratio

77

95

HR/IP

.08

.10

Run Ratio

95

85

ERA

3.59

4.04

Redman, much like Pettitte, isn’t flashy but he just gets the job done (3-3, 4.04 ERA after getting lit up the other night by Boston). He’s not a number one, heck, he may not even be a good #3. However he’s a darn good #4, and pitching in that spot for the A’s, you gotta figure the wins should come (matching last years total of 14-15 isn’t out of the question).  

M.BATISTA 2003 2004

HR Ratio

108

116

HR/IP

.07

.10

Run Ratio

126

115

ERA

3.54

5.13

 
Batista is French for “bust” so far. Now this guy is the definition of the last pitcher on your fantasy staff…and if he performs like he did last year, your gonna be at the top of the standings. But if he pitches like he has thus far, well then he’s just like everyone else’s last guy and you’re in trouble. We have to figure he bounces back a bit, just take a look at his ERA the last three years: 3.36, 4.29, 3.54. There’s still some hope. Plus that offense in Toronto can be pretty fearsome if they are all hitting at once, so he wouldn’t be the worst guy to give one last chance to.  

RAYS NOTES

Did you know that in 1904 Jack Chesbro had 48 complete games? Last year the entire National League had only 100! 

 

Ray Flowers can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: ballyard44@yahoo.com


 


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