The Impact of Certain Ballparks on Hitting Performance

Throughout Baseball, a given hitter’s Home vs Away statistics has always been a crucial aspect of how players are viewed. One of these reasons for varying splits is the differing of all Ballparks across the MLB. But how much of an impact do certain MLB stadiums really have on a hitters performance? This article will discuss various known ballparks to truly understand the effects of this phenomenon.


Coors Field

  • Among many baseball fans, Coors Field is considered to be the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the Bigs. But while this is a common perception, does this Ballpark really help hitters as many believe? First, we look at the dimensions of the park. Coors is 347 ft. to Left, 390 ft. to Left-Center, 415 ft. to Center, 375 ft. to Right-Center, and 350 ft. to Right. Compared to other stadiums, Coors ranks as one of the larger outfields in the League. With the shortest outfield wall being Fenway’s at 390 feet, the distance cannot be a cause of any potential impact. Even with large field size, there is still a belief of the park being extremely hitter-friendly. This is because the high altitude of Colorado is considered to be extremely helpful in a hit ball’s distance. And truthfully, it is. According to the Rockies website, any hit ball will travel at least 9% farther at the stadium’s altitude (5,280 ft) compared to Sea Level. To put that in perspective, a 360-foot shot at Sea Level to Left Center would be a homerun traveling 392.4 feet at Coors. Keeping that in mind, we look next at the runs aspect of Park Factor, a metric used to compare the number of runs scored in total in a given Ballpark. With the average being 1.000, Coors carried the highest score of 1.394 in 2019, the last full season of data. To put that into perspective, teams score 39% more runs in Coors Field than the average. In the home run category, the ballpark scored a 1.266 (3rd) and a 1.300 in hits (1st). With all of these facts, I can certainly say that Coors Fields provides a distinct advantage to Hitters.


Oracle Park

  • Throughout the last decade and a half, the San Fransisco Giants have had some of the Best Aces in baseball. From Tim Lincecum to Madison Bumgarner, pitching has usually not been a major issue for the club. When regarding Oracle Ballpark, one will generally see this stadium as pitcher-friendly. This may have been an aspect of their pitching success. But to what degree, if any, has this ballpark affected hitters’ performance? We will again view the dimensions. The outfield distances are as follows: 339 ft. to Left, 399 ft. to Left-Center, 391 ft. to Center, 415 ft. to Right-Center, and 309 ft. to Right. Unless a hitter is pulling a ball down the line, a homerun in this park would be fairly difficult. The 415 ft. wall in Center is one of the farthest in baseball, as well the Left-Center and Right-Center walls. So, the ballpark dimensions may be an aspect as to why Oracle Park is considered to be on the side against the hitter. To add against the hitter, the city of San Francisco also carries a high humidity rate. With high humidity, the leather balls often adsorb the excess moisture making them slightly heavier, leading to lower exit velocities. To fully test if these potential detriments had an impact, we will look at the Run portion of Park Factor for Oracle Park. The park scored a .798 in runs, or about 20% below league average, which ranks as the worst in the Major Leagues for 2019. The home run rate also ranked last (.691) as well as the hit rate ranking 23rd (.941). Given the physical disadvantages and stats that prove the disadvantages, Oracle Park had a noticeably negative impact on hitters.


Great American Ballpark

  • Having most of my current audience based around the Cincinnati area, I figure it is only fair to solve Great American Ballpark’s impact. While the stadium was originally designed to accommodate sluggers such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, the Reds have been home to a lot of excellent pitchers such as Johnny Cueto, Trevor Bauer, and Aroldis Chapman. With a decent balance of both defense and offense, what type of Impact does Great American Ballpark have on the hitters who play there? With the park designed for hitters, the outfield dimensions are smaller having 328 ft. to Left, 368 ft. to Left-Center, 404 ft. to Center, 370 ft. to Right-Center, and 325 ft. to Right. These measures continue to be small in comparison to other Major League Baseball stadiums as intended. Unlike the other ballparks aforementioned, Cincinnati lacks unusual weather conditions that would change the trajectory of a hit. With it being closer to Sea Level (482 feet above) and a low humidity index, the dimensions would be the primary factor in the stadium’s impact on hitters. Hence, we go to the Park Factor numbers. In 2019, Great American had a 1.038 run rate (11th), a 1.130 homerun rate (8th), and a 1.027 hit rate (8th). While the dimensions may have made Cincinnati’s Ballpark slightly better to the hitter as shown through the metrics, I would argue that its notorious reputation as a Hitters park is not earned. Most of the rankings both mentioned and not mentioned tend to put the Ballpark closer to the middle of the pack, not heavily above the competition. Both the hit and run rate failed to be 5% above league average, which is very abysmal. Given that, I would label Great American Ballpark as providing very minor, but existent, positive impact on hitters.

Fig. 1. Ballpark Factor Data during the 2019 MLB Season. “MLB Park Factors - 2019.” ESPN.com, www.espn.com.

In conclusion, the difference of MLB stadiums truly had a varying impact on hitter performance. The statistics demonstrated in Figure 1 shown above and throughout the post prove that a given stadium can have a major impact on a hitter, leading to the consideration of evaluation. While the original question of this article was solved, the reader needs to further utilize this knowledge when evaluating any hitter. With many fans going solely off the comparison of raw numbers, knowing that those numbers need to be weighted allows a true skill comparison, and a better understanding of talent. Hence, I hope anyone reading this keeps this topic in mind when looking at two players who are home to different parks.


Sources:


Espn.com

Bleacherreport.com

Baseballreference.com

Tht.fangraphs.com

Mlb.com/rockies

Homepages.uc.edu