Park Factors- How Does Busch Stadium “Play”? Check the Numbers! Part One
It is time to examine how Busch Stadium plays. What is meant is “how do the numbers stack up” when compared to the rest of the National League. This will tell you whether a park is favorable to hitters or to pitchers compared to the other parks. A park with an index of 100 is considered neutral and can be said to have no effect on the stat. An index above 100 means the ballpark favors the statistic. If a home run index of 118 is listed for a ballpark, it is 18% easier to hit a home run in the stadium. If it is listed as 78 for an index then it is 22% harder to smash a long ball in that park.
Today we will compare home runs, left handed batting hitting home runs, right handed batters hitting homers and batting average for all teams and then again using left or right handed batters to compare.
National League Home Runs by Park (see Index above)
Analysis: The Cardinals are at the top of the bottom third of all NL ballparks in frequency of home runs hit at their home ballpark. It is 13% harder than average (100%) to hit a home run at Busch Stadium. Looking at other park, in particular the NL Central, we find the Reds lead the way with Brewers in the top third and the Cubs above average in home run frequency. The Pirates are way down and as we progress through these numbers we find them relatively low in most offensive categories at PNC Park.
Left-Handed Batters Home Runs by Park
Analysis: Joey Votto and Ryan Howard should be pumped that it is easier to hit dingers when at home. Nine of the fifteen parks are above the neutral zone (100) and there is a big divide between the 97 and 81. The Cardinal left-handers have to battle for a home run.
Right Handed Batters Home Runs by Park
Analysis: As soon as I made this chart I had two names that came to mind. The first was Ryan Braun and the high number associated with Miller Park. He may be helped by it for sure. The other is Andrew McCutchen and how difficult it is to home at PNC Park. I remember that first few weeks of the season he remarked that the new park was where “flyballs go to die”. The Cardinals edges up a bit for the righties, like Holliday and Molina and Craig. Still doesn’t get to the neutral zone.
National League Batting Average Comparisons by Ballparks
Analysis: We have all heard about Coors Field being a hitters’ park and this doesn’t do anything to dispel that thought. What is surprising is only six parks are above the neutral zone (100) and many others hover in the high 90’s except PETCO and CITI Field. The Cardinals are in the bottom third and are last in the National League Central in batting average in their park.
Left Handed Batters Average Comparison by Parks
Analysis: I wouldn’t want to be a left-handed hitter going to CITI Field. IT was the most difficult place to hit for average in the National League. The Cubs (Wrigley Field) was the best place (think Rizzo)for average and it was a clear 10% better than the next park(Turner Field). The Cardinals finally find a stat that puts them over the neutral zone (100). I guess that is good news for Matt Carpenter.
Right Handed Batters Average Comparison by Ballparks
Analysis: Why is PETCO Park 15% harder for a right-hander to hit for average? The National League finds fewer parks above the neutral (100) zone that below it. The Cardinals are in the bottom three and are last in the NL Central for righties.
Let’s examine each National League Park for home run distance (field dimensions).
|Ballpark||Left Field||Center Field||Right Field|
|Chase Field- Arizona||330||407||334|
|Turner Field- Atlanta||335||401||330|
|Wrigley Field- Chicago||355||400||353|
|Great American Ballpark- Cincinnati||328||404||325|
|Coors Field- Denver||347||415||350|
|Dodger Stadium- LA||330||395||330|
|Marlins Park- Miami||340||416||335|
|Miller Park- Milwaukee||344||400||345|
|Citi Field- New York||335||408||330|
|Citizens Bank Park- Philadelphia||329||401||329|
|PNC Park- Pittsburgh||325||399||320|
|PETCO Park- San Diego||336||396||322|
|AT&T Park- San Francisco||339||399||309|
|Busch Stadium- STL||336||400||335|
|Nationals Park- Washington||336||403||335|
Analysis: Dimensions are interesting to look at. I am amazed at the relatively short distances of the fences at PNC Park and yet it is next-to-last in home runs. What is causing that? I read in my research that many locals believe the new construction in the area has caused this. Wrigley Field has the deepest left field, Citi Field is deepest in center and Wrigley Field is the deepest park in right field. Yet, Wrigley Field is the 6th easiest in the National League to hit a home run. The Cardinals are rather standard in their dimensions and yet they are 11th. Will the new Ballpark Village have an effect on home runs to left field?
In Part Two, we will examine hitting doubles, triples and committing errors in the National League parks and how they “stack up” to each other.
Part Three examines which parks the hitters strikeout the most often, which one draws the most base-on-balls along with runs scored in each and which produces the most hits.
All Stats used are from Bill James Handbook.