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BABIP at PETCO

November 30th, 2010 by

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.

Posted in Padres 101, statistics | 5 Comments »

Required reading for Padres fans

April 20th, 2010 by

Joe Pos: Forbes and Yankees

So as impossible as it seems, according to the Forbes numbers, the Royals and Yankees in 2009 spent almost exactly the same percentage of available money on winning baseball games. Sure, there could be some accounting tricks involved — I’m not clever enough to pick these out — but even so I think this would absolutely shock most people. It shocked the heck out of me.

The truth seems to be that the Yankees are NOT spending some out of control amount of money on payroll. Quite literally the opposite is true. The Yankees payroll is almost exactly in line with their revenue.

Well, hey, you can decide for yourself just how much of the Yankees revenue is due to their location plus their television market and how much of it is due to their good business sense, but either way, when you actually look at the numbers you realize how ridiculous it is for Yankees fans to say that Kansas City and Pittsburgh and Oakland should just “try harder.” There is no trying hard enough to make up anything close to the gap. Yes, a few teams have the resources to at least battle the Yankees advantage — though the Mets’ horror show is living proof that you can screw up with a lot of money.

It’s not impossible for small market teams to compete with the Yankees and Dodgers, there are examples. But when a small market front office says their goal is to play competitive every year, think about what that means, and what it is they’re up against. It’s a rare event for small market teams to compete for the playoffs 5 years in a row.

Posted in Padres 101, sacrificial links | 2 Comments »

Padres 101: Park Factors

October 9th, 2008 by

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 »

Padres 101: Rebuilding Through the Draft

August 6th, 2008 by

Build, Break, Rebuild

“The draft has never been anything but a fucking crapshoot. We take fifty guys and we celebrate if two of them make it. In what other business is two for fifty a success? If you did that in the stock market, you’d go broke.” -Billy Beane

Padres101While 2003 may have been the end to an era, it would be difficult to argue that much had changed following the 2004 Amateur Draft. In a draft where the executive decisions were inexplicably carried out by owner John Moores, the Padres drafted local Mission Bay High School product, Matt Bush. The team immediately felt the return of their $3.15 million investment when, 13 days later, Bush was arrested in a night club scuffle under suspicion of “felony assault, and misdemeanor trespass and disorderly conduct… [and] underage drinking.” What’s worse, the dude’s a biter.

The move was immediately scrutinized as many believed it was merely predicated due to a financial bottom line as opposed to acquiring top shelf talent. While this isn’t necessarily a fair assessment (Bush was considered a Top 10 prospect in many circles and the Padres weren’t the only team who refused to pay premium prices for first round picks), the move ushered in a new philosophy and face for the front office:

Sandy Alderson and John Moores

John Moores rebuilt the Padres’ entire draft and development department, from the top down. Sandy Alderson, former executive with Major League Baseball became a part owner and team CEO. Grady Fuson, who nearly worked his way to general manager in the Texas Rangers’ system due to his extensive experience as a scout and talent evaluator, was named Padres Director of Scouting. Paul DePodesta, former Executive Vice President and General Manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers became Padres Special Assistant for Baseball Operations.

The franchise distanced itself from frivolous spending and settled with modest payrolls ranked either near or below the Major League average; fan favorites left via free agency. While the casual fan saw departing players and the concept of a modest player payroll as a black mark upon the franchise, the team began a new approach to the draft to create an advantage.

Since the move to Petco Park, the Padres have struggled promoting from within due to years of neglect that relegated their farm system near useless, ranking near the worst in the league up until this past season (courtesy of Baseball America):

2005: 27th

2006: 29th

2007: 29th

2008: 12th

The marked improvement can definitely be attributed to the new franchise philosophy and although this couldn’t happen overnight, the franchise continues to exhaust every effort in order to restock their depleted farm system. The methods in which Alderson and company sought to improve this franchise were dubbed by sportswriter Tom Krasovic as “Sandyball,” and simply reiterated the importance of acquiring extra draft picks in any way possible:

[Getting extra draft picks] is done by offering salary arbitration to a free agent who played for your club the previous season. If the player declines and signs with another team, the original club gets one or two high-end picks in the next June amateur draft. Under Alderson, the Padres have obtained 12 extra picks, including seven in 2007 and another three for the upcoming June draft. From 2000-2005, they had two extra picks. “The farm system has improved,” Alderson said. “That’s partly because of more draft picks. But it’s also partly more effective use of draft picks.”

The method – from the standpoint of retooling the farm system – worked. As outlined above, over the past three years the Padres have hoarded sandwich picks more than at any other point in franchise history and, in that time, selected more players in the first three rounds than any other team in baseball.

Money allocated for contracts to Padres’ draft picks is also far more significant than in years past. In 2007, the Padres managed to sign all but one of their twelve first day draft picks and this year they not only had a successful Amateur Draft, but they locked up an additional $4.8 million in player contracts during the International Draft – which, not so coincidentally, is the first year in which the Padres’ $8.5 million scouting facility in the Dominican Republic has been open. That total, according to a report in the Union Tribune, was approximately five times their normal amount, “as the Padres spend about $1 million during the international signing period.” Of the five players taken that day, all four that played in Latin America made ESPN’s Top 12 “Best Latino Prospects of 2008” list.

The hope is that their growth and maturity as a franchise continues with an unshakable focus for sustained future prosperity, no matter how the major league squad is playing at the moment. With this front office and the impressions they’ve made through their accomplishments, there’s reason to be optimistic.

Posted in Padres 101 | 1 Comment »

Introduction to Padres 101

July 31st, 2008 by

Padres101The San Diego Padres Baseball Club, like any large business, is a complex entity. Lots of employees with different skill sets work together to provide us fans with the entertainment experience we come to expect. From groundskeepers to broadcasters, quantitative analysts to medical staff, it takes a lot to operate a baseball team.

As is the nature of the entertainment industry, fans can only follow the workings of the team as often as their leisure time, and entertainment budget, allow. In order to follow a sports team, fans rely on others, most often members of the media, to report on and summarize team related information, and keep fans in the loop with their team. The spectrum of these reports varies wildly, ranging from sports updates on the nightly news to in-depth, frequently updated websites.

Now, thanks to the internet and other new forms of communication, in depth coverage is available to anyone who cares enough about watching grown men run in circles. Web sites provide competition for the analysis fans need to enjoy the game.

The bad news is, San Diego traditional media hasn’t successfully responded to the improvement in sports coverage. Radio commentators and newspaper columnists supply fans with misinformation, poor research, and display a less than thorough understanding of the complexity under which the San Diego Padres conduct business.

Therefore TheSacrificeBunt.com, in conjunction with VoiceOfSanDiego.org present a series titled “Padres 101″. We will break down the business environment that surrounds the team, and all the background info behind decisions the team has made to stay competitive. This is the stuff you don’t hear on the radio. Stay tuned.

Posted in media, Padres 101 | 3 Comments »

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