Following yesterday’s signing by the Dodgers of Juan Uribe, a conversation broke out on twitter on Uribe’s predecessor, Ryan Theriot, and how he might fit in with the Padres. Comparisons were made to Eckstein, and I suggested that Theriot is a player who benefits greatly from a high BABIP* and wondered out loud if PETCO might take this advantage away from him. Already a below-average hitter (career wRC+: 90), Theriot’s a player who needs every advantage he can get. With his likely joblessness, he seems a potential fit for the Padres. My question is: does PETCO Park hurt a player’s BABIP?
*Here’s how Baseball Prospectus defines BABIP: Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher’s average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher’s defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .300.
Since 2004, when PETCO opened, the stadium has seen an overall BABIP (both offensively and defensively for the Padres) of .282. Away from home, the overall BABIP has been an average .303. Both samples exceed 29,000 at-bats (home: 29,459, away: 30,733).
This comes as little surprise. PETCO has always been a park that punishes hitters. Despite the siren song of its mammoth gaps, the ball just doesn’t land here in San Diego and this is reflected in the stadium’s BABIP. For a player like Theriot, who’s skill set isn’t going to breakthrough PETCO’s problems, maybe this isn’t the place for him.
I anticipate seeing him in a Padres uniform next season.