The first spring training sites have
officially opened! Most importantly player news is
starting to trickle in (down below). Before we get to it, lets
visit a topic which is possibly related to the decline in
Park Factors: Are new stadiums "pitcher friendly" and
related to the decline of Offensive Production?
my article ‘Say
hello to the Dominance of Pitching I,
II”, I have received several comments regarding my
linkage to the decade’s power outage to PEDs. One of the
commenters asked how the new
pitcher-friendly parks and the advent of the humidor in
Coors factors in?
Another subscriber asked
if I could use
ESPN’s Park factor
as the milepost in determining if the new ballparks are indeed
pitcher friendly. Which would/could account for some if not all of
the decline in hitting production that we saw in the last decade.
ESPN’s Park factor (PF) is based on Runs Scored at home (by the home team)
verses Runs scored on the road (by that same team)
+ homeRA)/(homeG)) / ((roadRS + roadRA)/(roadG))).
The impetus for using Runs Scored vs a statistic
like homeruns, is to incorporate the other factors such as extra base hits
and walks that turn into Runs. There is much debate on whether it’s a more
effective indicator than any other stat, personally I would like to have a
SLUG% indicator. Among other things
I think it may be more reflective of the
ballparks dimensions. Additionally the strength of a lineup can exaggerate
the effects of a ballpark. Regardless, since PF has been
popularized by ESPN and is widely accepted as a benchmark…let’s see if
using PF shows us if the new ballparks are contributing to the offensive
The Coors Field Effect
little doubt that Coors field has been tamed thanks to The Infamous
Humidor’s soaking effect on baseballs (50% humidity at 70 degrees in
essentially a meat locker under Coors Field). During the mega power years
of 1999-2001, Coors field generated an Park Factor (Runs Scored) of 1.58.
In other words, Coors field accounted for 58% more Runs than the average
ballpark (not exactly as PF only takes the home team and does not consider
visiting teams and their production in the ballpark). Regardless it's an
incredible number (but let's remember that this lineup was stacked with
the Blake Street Bombers during this time period, which likely (as
mentioned) exaggerated the effect of Coors field during this period.
Moving on: Since the Humidor went into production at Coors (2002-2009),
the Park Factor (Runs Scored) has dropped to 1.25. Roughly more than a 20%
drop in production as measured by Park Factor. This average has dropped
even lower the last 3 years (1.17).
difference is significant for this ballpark, but how much does this
account in overall production during these time periods? If we spread out
the difference between Coors today (last 3 years) verses pre humidor
(1999-2001) over all 30 MLB stadium teams we are looking at about a
1.4% reduction in Runs Scored over the decade of 2000. 1.4% is
significant, but we need more help to account for the other 9+% drop in
the New Ballparks built during the decade (2000-2009)?
a look at all the ballparks that were faded out during the decade that was
(00’s). Below is the park factor (Runs Scored Index) for the 3 years prior
and including the ballpark's last season, the final column is the 3 year
average. Again all of these ballparks were replaced during period
The old ballparks, in
their last 3 years of service (according to the Runs Scored index or Park
Factor) were about 5% (.954) below the average stadium of that time
period. Now on to the new ballparks:
Overall the new stadiums seem about
2.5% (.975) below the mean or average stadium in Runs Scored.
However, even though they are below the mean, this suggests
that the new MLB stadiums built during the last decade are
slightly more hitter friendly than the old (.95 verses .97).
Without employing complex
mathematics we can surmise that the +2% difference in the
relative Park Factor of the new stadiums, offsets the -1.4%
reduction of the Coor's humidor effect. An almost even wash.
Hence, based on the data presented above using the popular Park
Factor, we can not find any correlation between the drop in
hitter production during the last decade and the new
Regardless of the culprit (PEDs or
otherwise), as we alluded to in the last 2 articles (hitters/pitchers)....pitchers
are regaining their once held dominance. Which brings on a fantasy
paradigm: pitchers are becoming more predictable to forecast
(therefore shouldn't be discounted as in the past), posting better
stats, but at the same time there are more good pitchers available.
This spring we'll discuss some strategies to capitalize on the
trend, a logic I might add that is already calculated in the
Fantasy Player Projections Software (plug).
BallPark Factor in the software
The Ballpark factor that we
utilize in the player projections software (under Forecaster - 2010
Support - see below) is a combination of Runs Scored and Home Runs.
Although I mentioned that Slugging % might be the best indicator of
them all, that data is not easily attainable. Therefore I find that
the 2 indicators together offer less noise (and yet are highly
Hitters playing in a hitter friendly
stadium will have a factor above 100 and pitchers in the same
ballpark will have an inverse ballpark factor. As an example, Curtis
Granderson's new confines (Yankee Stadium) has a Runs/HR factor of
107 (7% above the average stadium), while teammate CC Sabathia has a
Ballpark factor of 93. Simply meaning: based on 1 year of data, he's
playing in a more hitter friendly stadium....of course things could
change when we get more season data in the books.
And finally if you are wondering:
Ballpark factors as well as team support (and all of the other
indicators you see above) are already accounted for in the player
projections model. The forecaster section of the player projections
is a reference point to look at during your preseason prep.
The good news today is that pitchers
and catchers are starting to report to spring training sites in
Florida and Arizona. I hope that brings some warmth to your part of
Anthony A. Perri
Statistician and Publisher -Fantistics Insiderbaseball.com
Players in the News:
An MRI on Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair
Jurrjens' right shoulder has revealed inflammation but no
structural problems. Jurrjens
has baffled me since his callup into the majors. Last season
his BA against (.235) was the best it's been since his rookie
season in the minors. A chuck of it came from a favorable BHIP%
(22 points in BA), XERA is 52 points higher than actual, LOB% is
.81 which frankly is unsustainable for a .71 K/I pitcher. Yet he
was consistent, pitching 25 Quality Starts in '09. We are
impressed, but the indicators say he is a high risk to repeat.
We were projecting a decline in performance before the shoulder
inflammation, now he's on our injury watch.
Joel Zumaya is feeling great after his
off season shoulder surgery. Zumaya is
definitely worth talking up during your draft, for those hoping
to get Jose Valverde on the cheap. Despite rumors of his
demise, Pappa Grande is still one of the top closers in
baseball. Consider that over the last 3 years there have only
been 7 closers that have been worth more than $20 (Roto 5x5) in
each of these years...Valverde is one of them.
complains of shoulder discount on first day of camp.
The Mets fan in me (condolences acknowledged) had visions of
Kelvin returning to his 2007 form and slipping into the Mets #3
or 4 rotation slot. Glad he didn't wait to make me look foolish.
Washington Gm Mike Rizzo expects that Ivan
Rodriguez will play in as many as 90 games.
Why the Nationals decided to limit the
growth potential of Jesus Flores is beyond me...but so
are many of their free agent moves. In limited action last year
(see stress fracture shoulder), Flores was over .500 in
slugging% with ISO of 20.1%. Which of course is not sustainable
(ISO-20) over a full season, but do consider his solid 14% ISO
in 300 ABs in 2008.
Felipe Lopez says that the Cardinals are
one of the 4 teams pursuing him. Signing
in St. Louis would significantly increase his value, especially
his Run Scored potential (Think Lopez ahead of Pujols/Holliday).
In STL, 95-100 would be a attainable number if he's
anywhere close to his '09 .383 OBP (.350 is more likely for '10)
is a few weeks behind schedule after knee/elbow surgery, but
says he's healthy. At this point, there is
a strong possibility that it will be Ryan Madson opening
the season as the Phils Closer. Madson dominated Right Handed
batters last year with a 1.04 WHIP, yet Left Handed batters
labeled him with a 1.46 WHIP. Clearly there is some weakness in
Madson's game, enough that Lidge could/should slide back in once
the season gets underway.
designated himself as a bench player? The Red Sox think so and
so does his thumb and hip.
Lowell's surgically repaired thumb is still not fully healed,
and his balky hip is improved but not perfect. In fact he told
reporters that his hip is 10% better...not really encouraging to
hear from a 36 year old. We're dropping 20% of our projected ABs,
as we thought there would be a possibility that Lowell would get
traded before the season. That doesn't look like it might happen