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Mr. Petco

February 23rd, 2012 by Ray

I’ve found the ultimate Petco player. That’s right, the Holy Grail.

Since Petco opened in 2004, we’ve all dreamed about finding players who are resistant to the brutal effects Petco has on hitters. You’ll remember that Barry Bonds, aka the best hitter of the past fifty years, called the park “baseball proof” and mortals have spent the past eight seasons proving him right. Josh Byrnes thinks Yonder Alonso and Carlos Quentin might have what it takes but I’m not so certain.

To find the perfect Petco player, I started by looking at what offense Petco does allow. According to this study done by Beyond the Box Score, Petco only favors walks (1.05) and triples (1.02) when it comes to offense. It also is fairly neutral on singles (0.98) and stolen bases (0.97), which leaves us with our criteria. You’ll notice that Quentin’s homers and Alonso’s doubles didn’t make the cut.

Making our search a little easier is the fact that triples, singles, and stolen bases all tend to be products of the same skill. Looking over the three-year numbers for speedsters from across the league, names like Dexter Fowler and Jose Reyes pop up, though they’re not quite as perfect as our guy.

Over the past three years, our guy has 39 triples, which leads the league, has hit 302 singles with only a .294 BABIP, drawn 168 walks and has stolen 78 bags with an 82% success rate. All of this with a career 4.1 UZR/150 in center. Sounds great, right? Wish he were a Padre?

You might want to sit down.

I’m not saying that the Padres should’ve hung onto Shane Victorino back in 2003 because things are never that simple. Who knows if a 22-year-old Victorino puts it together in San Diego the way the 25-year-old version did in Philadelphia. I’m just I wish they would’ve.

(Of course, Victorino has a career 65 OPS+ at Petco in 81 PA. Maybe the park really is simply baseball proof.)

Posted in statistics | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Mr. Petco”

  1. Lorenzo says:

    I’m thinking Josh has it right getting line drive hitters. The humid air at Petco isn’t thicker, it’s thinner than the dry, dense desert air. Each molecule of moisture, H2O, replaces a molecule of dry air, mostly nitrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements, and moist air is less dense. Storm systems are thinner moist air and they’re LOW pressure, while dry desert air is dense HIGH pressure.

    With low pressure, there’s less lift for a high fly ball with backspin so the ball just dies when its momentum from impact is used up. Line drives have top spin and travel in a lower trajectory. With low pressure, though, there’s less air resistance to knock the ball down, so a liner just keeps going so an outfielder playing deep can catch it, the reason Petco has been the worst place for doubles in the gap 7 of its 8 years.

    A low liner is usually an out in Petco’s moist air, but a topspin liner that’s 20-30 feet up just travels farther without dropping much. Venable hit a couple that high that went over the fence in right. Quentin hits the ball hard, but his homers were mostly high liners rather than high moonshots other power hitters hit. Alonso also hits topspin liners, and he’s in position to take advantage of the only way to homer in Petco, those 20-30 foot high line drives that never come down and travel farther due to less air resistance.

    Quentin and Alonso both need to remember that low liners are outs at Petco, and they have to elevate the ball a bit to hit it off or over the fence. They may be faked out by the dense, not thin, desert air, but they need to know their approach has to change at Petco and also at Dodger Stadium and AT&T during night games, when the temperature drops and the relative humidity goes up.

    Line drive hitters may not be a perfect solution for Petco – they still have to make adjustments – but they should do better than moon shot hitters like Ludwick.

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