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Padres 101: Park Factors

October 9th, 2008 by Ray

Introduction: Padres 101
Part 1: Rebuilding Through the Draft

Padres101A proper discussion on the misconceptions surrounding the San Diego Padres has to begin with their hitting. At the end of the 2008 season, the Padres ranked dead last in the league in runs. Since moving into Petco, the team has been consistently at the bottom of the league in this category.

From this information alone, it would be safe to assume any number of things, from the players on the team are poor to the management has no idea of how to put together a team to compete in this ballpark. What needs to be considered is that the Padres are not the only team that plays in Petco.

What are park factors?

Simply, park factors indicate the difference between runs scored in a team’s home and road games. As the same hitters and the same pitchers are doing the playing, the difference in runs scored is dependent on the park the game is played in.

Park factors do tend to vary some from year to year. That’s why I have compiled the combined park factors for every stadium from 2004 through 2007, save the two Nationals and Cardinals parks. I used a basic version of the park factor equation: (home runs for + home runs against) / (road runs for + road runs against). And the numbers are:

1. Coors Field [Rockies] 1.251
2. Chase Field [Diamondbacks] 1.101
3. Wrigley Field [Cubs] 1.101
4. Rangers Ballpark [Rangers] 1.085
5. Fenway Park [Red Sox] 1.085
6. U.S. Cellular Field [White Sox] 1.083
7. Citizen Bank Park [Phillies] 1.066
8. Great American Ballpark [Reds] 1.049
9. Rogers Centre [Blue Jays] 1.047
10. Kauffman Stadium [Royals] 1.039
11. Miller Park [Brewers] 1.016
12. AT&T Park [Giants] 1.015
13. Camden Yards [Orioles] 1.011
14. Yankee Stadium [Yankees] 0.983
15. Turner Field [Braves] 0.980
16. Comerica Park [Tigers] 0.978
17. Dodger Stadium [Dodgers] 0.977
18. Metrodome [Twins] 0.971
19. PNC Park [Pirates] 0.097
20. Angels Stadium [Angels] 0.970
21. Minute Maid Park [Astros] 0.968
22. McAfee Coliseum [Athletics] 0.952
23. Progressive Field [Indians] 0.951
24. Tropicana Field [Rays] 0.950
25. Shea Stadium [Mets] 0.938
26. Dolphin Stadium [Marlins] 0.934
27. Safeco Field [Mariners] 0.919
28. Petco Park [Padres] 0.810

(And, as you should’ve assumed, Petco Park this year was again last in the league at 0.796. First in the league for 2008 was Rangers Ballpark, at 1.142.)

What does this mean? In layman’s terms, Petco is the hardest stadium in baseball to hit in. Not just by a little, but a lot.

The Padres don’t just play in a pitcher’s park, they play in an extreme pitcher’s park.

This is the lens under which the Padres low run totals should be viewed. Nineteen percent less runs scored in Petco than in the average park. The next toughest stadium, Safeco Field, is more than half that distance away at 8% less. The only gap greater than the 11% between Petco and Safeco is the 15% between Coors Field and Chase Field. You may know Coors Field as the place that kept baseballs in a humidor to try to even the odds between sides.

From 04-07, the two most productive Padres were Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Giles. In their most productive seasons, their home and away OPS splits were:

Year Home Away
Adrian Gonzalez 2007 .760 .928
Brian Giles 2005 .795 1.008

And then this season:

Year Home Away
Adrian Gonzalez 2008 .788 .946
Brian Giles 2008 .817 .891

(More of the same from Gonzalez, although Giles’ numbers aren’t so bad. Another good reason to resign him, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

When the stadium built, it was said to be Bonds-proof. Barry’s response:

“It’s not Bonds-proof. It’s baseball-proof.”

While it’s not quite baseball-proof, it’s close. The home stadium puts hitters at a ridiculous disadvantage, and there’s no easy solution.

The fences are too far and the air’s too thick and it’s just too drat hard. On the plus side, the fences were brought  in before the 06 season, albeit barely (thanks wrveres), and the front office likes to drop little teases that they could be moved in farther (thank you, Jody Gerut). On the less plus side, Sean Connery from The Avengers hasn’t been called to do something about the thick marine air.

Until (read: if) something is done to neutralize Petco Park, the 25 Padres taking the field are going to have to make due with what they’ve got. And so will all of us sitting in the stands.

Posted in Padres 101, petco park | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Padres 101: Park Factors”

  1. Apparently our discussion of Padre misconceptions is pretty un-proper since we began with rebuilding through the draft.

  2. wrveres says:

    that .810 figure is disgusting.

    It should be pointed out, the Padres didn’t really bring the fences in, in 2006. They just rounded off that odd corner near the beach/bullpen, the deepest part of center field.

    I remember, somebody did a study, probably the UT, and it would of had an effect on something like three homeruns. I guess technically, they moved the fences in, but not really.

    What I don’t understand why the friars can’t just round out “the porch” in right field. Bring it inline with the rest of right field for about 30 feet, going towards center. That alone would add another six feet to right.

    Worst case. Move home plate up the first base path about five feet. If you are worried about the western metal supply building, I guess you could always move home plate up the third baseline. Then we could have one of those goofy parks like in Bahstawn. :)

  3. I do like the idea of smoothing out the porch, I was never one for those quirky fence angles. It seems too forced, you can’t just manufacture character like that. Nobody likes the kid at the party who tries too hard to be cool, people like the guy who is himself and doesn’t care what others think.

    That said, I think the gaps are the deepest part and need the most attention. What would suck though about cutting off more gap, at least in right, is it would leave the beachers even further away then they already are. I hate sitting out there, you can only see half the field!

  4. One more thing: park effects don’t just affect (did I get that right?) Major League ballparks. They have an even bigger influence on minor leagues, so we should be extra careful looking at the raw stats of our farm team brethren.

    Actually now that I say that, I don’t know how the park in Portland influences hitting, but I do know the league is skewed to help hitters. So be sure to give pitchers a bit of a mental boost when looking at raw stats in the PCL.

    Also, the AA San Antonio park is a major pitchers park, I’ve heard even more so than PETCO. So add some bumpage Blanks’ awesome year, and perhaps detract a bit from Inman and Garrison.

    I have some stuff on minor league translations here:
    http://thesacrificebunt.com/289/kyle-banks-blanks-head-of-padres-bright-side-department/

  5. Steve says:

    The main issue for me is that PETCO makes for boring baseball. Even in the 3 years that the Padres were winning, I wasn’t terribly excited to go to many non-Peavy/Young games because I knew there was a good chance for a 1-0 extra innings snooze fest. That should be the front office’s major concern, that even winning Padres baseball has been, by and large, boring baseball.

  6. Ray Lankford says:

    Something (kind of) interesting:

    When it first opened, Comerica Park was ridiculous. Three-hundred and ninety-five feet to left-center. Close to the 402 in Petco. Before the 2003 season, they moved in the fences approx. 25 feet, or to 370ish.

    In the graph above, Comerica’s park factor is .978, good for 17th in the league. From 2000-03, it was .923, which would be good for 26th on this list.

    Now, in no way am I implying that what worked in Detroit would work in San Diego. But that’s 5% more runs scored. From 00-03, that would’ve been 1.4 runs a game.

    Of course, it should be noted that 5% at Petco wouldn’t mean a whole lot. But it’s something to keep in mind.

  7. Yeah Steve, there’s definitely something to be said for that, especially since the team had 4 great seasons and people seem to have forgotten so quickly.

    Although the idea of pulling a Cincinnati and bringing in the fences outrageously shallow just to create a spectacle bothers me. But then again baseball at its roots is entertainment. If we’re getting a boring product and the ownership can do something easily to fix it, that would be worth it.

  8. R. Lankford says:

    “On the other hand, if we brought the fences in, would it be more or less entertaining at Petco? That’s what I care about.”

    Alderson’s words from the Gerut link in the story.

  9. Randy Ready says:

    “On the other hand, if we brought the fences in, would it be more or less entertaining at Petco? That’s what I care about.”

    I’m pretty sure Alderson was merely questioning the human element that can’t be processed by DePodesta (or Ray) via computer.

  10. [...] way, it’s good to improve the absurd pitcher’s advantage of the ballpark. As Ray showed us, Petco isn’t just a normal run of the mill pitcher’s park, it’s one helluva [...]

  11. [...] you, a devoted reader of the Sacrifice Bunt, knows, Petco Park is the hardest stadium on hitters in the entire major leagues. And it’s not even close. But today, we’ve learned that Nick Canepa’s yet to [...]

  12. [...] a spot on the home run or all-star squad, has an uphill battle. The Padres play in the most extreme pitcher friendly ballpark, and in one of the smallest media markets in the [...]

  13. AztecBill says:

    Petco Park mainly suppresses doubles. In 2006, the Padres led MLB in doubles on the road and were last in MLB in doubles at home. Leading MLB in doubles means even more without a DH. But at home we were dead last – 30th out of 30 teams. Doubles are few because the ball doesn’t carry. If home runs were supressed simply because of the depth of the fences, one would expect more doubles, not less.

    • ESPN puts PETCO’s park factor for home runs as 30th, 30th, 16th, 29th, and 30th since it opened. I’m not sure what happened in 2006, but it’s clear the place suppresses home runs.

      Personally, I think the run suppression comes from the atmosphere, not the fence distance.

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