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July 30, 2004

Park Factor Review

A Look at All Parks, Majors to A-Ball

by Clay Davenport

Now that we've gotten to the 100-game mark on the season, I decided to take a look at how the park factors were shaking out so far in '04. Park factors are noisy pieces of data--that's the reason why we use three-year averages in the first place--and I expect that some of these 100-game factors will change significantly between now and the end of the season.

That caveat aside, let's take a look at how pro baseball's parks--from the majors down to A-ball--are playing.

The New Parks

Philadelphia

A lot has been made about the bandbox nature of the Phillies' new digs, named (as far too many are) for a corporate entity that has nothing to do with the team except for the "Pay to the order of" line on the checks. The power alleys are, indeed, short, and home runs are flying out about 25% more often in Phillies' home games as they are on the road. However, teams do not score on home runs alone:

Phillies and opponents, per 6100 AB+BB (approximate full-season total):


                AB      H       DB      TP      HR      BB      R       REqA
Home games      5519    1437    260     28      232     581     778     .789
Away games      5531    1516    362     22      187     569     771     .804

Projecting the current numbers out to a full season, the Phillies' new ballpark would give out 45 more home runs, but at the cost of 102 doubles and 28 singles, not to mention 67 outs. On a per-out basis, there are more runs scored in Philadelphia's road games than at home. Overall, the park is currently rated 1.022. Considering that REqA (Raw Equivalent Average, click here for a glossary definition) suggests a .980 park, combined with the the runs-per-out data, I'd be a little more willing to bet on that going down than I would be on it going up.

San Diego

Also ensconced in a shiny new corporate bauble, the Padres left behind nearly the most pitcher-friendly stadium in the country (a fraction behind Dodger Stadium in the 2001-2003.) The new dimensions didn't offer any hint that there was going to be any change, and indeed there hasn't been any. Again, per 6100 PA:


                AB      H       DB      TP      HR      BB      R       REqA
In SD           5590    1398    280     40      121     510     630     .706
Away            5590    1536    300     20      173     510     775     .746

Big reductions in singles (-86) and home runs (-52) and a small reduction in doubles (-20) are only slightly offset by a big (+20) increase in triples. The Padres have a team park factor of .894 right now, the lowest in the majors this season, lower than any major league team has had since 1998. (Remember, the team's park factor is a combination of its home park's intrinsic factor and its mix of road stadiums.)

For the rest of the majors and minors, I'm just going to list everyone's 2004 park factor to date, with a note about those teams that are deviating the most from their established norms. For convenience, all park factors are listed to three places with an implied decimal point; "1000" is really 1.000.

American League


Anaheim     960
Baltimore   1056
Boston      1078
Chicago     1073
Cleveland   967
Detroit     955
Kansas City 950
Minnesota   1022
New York    980
Oakland     996
Seattle     921
Tampa Bay   999
Texas       1070
Toronto     1050

In an off-season trade that caught everyone off-guard, the Orioles and Royals traded park factors. Kansas City had become the closest thing to Coors that the American League had to offer, with factors of 1086, 1124, and 1089 over the last three years. No team in baseball, majors or minors, has had a park factor so far below their history as have the Royals. What seemed like a fairly small change--the fences were moved back 10 feet--has had a seemingly huge effect.

The Orioles, meanwhile, haven't had a single-season factor above 1 since 1995. There's a certain element of luck involved here, since the Orioles and their opponents actually have a slightly higher REqA (.779) away from Camden Yards than they do in Camden Yards (.778). Between them they have outscored their Equivalent Runs (EqR) by 39 in Oriole home games and underscored by 10 in road games, changing what should have been a neutral rating into a high one.

National League


Arizona       1038
Atlanta       979
Chicago       992
Cincinnati    906
Colorado      1140
Florida       953
Houston       1024
Los Angeles   952
Milwaukee     972
Montreal      931
New York      945
Philadelphia  1022
Pittsburgh    972
San Diego     894
San Francisco 1029
St. Louis     968

The Expos are the most unstable park in the country, in terms of year-to-year changes...excuse me, most unstable park on the continent. Their 1120 last year was certainly aided by Hiram Bithorn, but played at about 1080 even without the Puerto Rican games. This year, even the games in San Juan haven't helped (yes, I know they jiggered the fences there as well). Since 1992, the Expos have been as low as 899 (1998) and as high as 1120 (2003), and only once have they spent consecutive seasons on the same side of 1000 (in 1996-97, they scored 1035 and 1011). Roll the dice, baby.

After an almost perfectly neutral (998) first season, with unfounded suggestions that it was a bandbox following a flurry of early home runs, the Reds' new park is playing like an Astrodome.

After 10 years with a park factor averaging 939, the Giants have had a 1000 and 1029 the last two years. That's going to take a little bit off Barry Bonds' EqA on the player cards.

International League


Buffalo       989
Charlotte     999
Columbus      999
Durham        1053
Indianapolis  1059
Louisville    1063
Norfolk       905
Ottawa        1070
Pawtucket     986
Richmond      938
Rochester     982
Scranton/W-B  951
Syracuse      1044
Toledo        921

Since 2001, Toledo has gone from 1037 to 1029 to 968 to 921. Ottawa is just another part in the continuing weirdness of the Orioles system this year, where pretty much every team is outside its normal range.

Pacific Coast League


Albuquerque      1095
Colorado Springs 1109
Edmonton         890
Fresno           1005
Iowa             956
Las Vegas        1133
Memphis          960
Nashville        966
New Orleans      906
Oklahoma         881
Omaha            916
Portland         915
Sacramento       941
Salt Lake City   1080
Tacoma           948
Tucson           1102

The league of extremes, where the so-called "Coast" teams that are really high up in the mountains and plateaus have really high park factors and most everyone else has a really low one. Edmonton used to be one of the reliably middle-of-the-pack teams, but they've been trending downwards since 2000. The team that is farthest above its established level is actually Nashville; since they spent the last two years below 900, 966 is a big step up.

Eastern League


Akron         1110
Altoona       1043
Binghamton    990
Bowie         884
Erie          1021
Harrisburg    1018
New Britain   1018
New Hampshire 978
Norwich       929
Portland      1034
Reading       1059
Trenton       902

Bowie was normally around 1000 (there's that Oriole weirdness again), but this is two years now that it has been a strong pitcher's park. Trenton was at 1054 last year, but that appears to be as aberrant as this year's 902. New Britain always used to be a pitching haven, but they have been consistently average since 1999. Altoona has never played as a hitter's park before. Akron's never been anywhere near this high.

Southern League


Birmingham     919
Carolina       1006
Chattanooga    1011
Greenville     1031
Huntsville     962
Jacksonville   1021
Mobile         1004
Montgomery     927
Tennessee      980
West Tennessee 1024

Jacksonville opened a new stadium last year, rating a 934, but is scoring on the high side of average this season. Montgomery looks like a pitcher's park, but take another look at what I just said about Jacksonville. There aren't any real surprises here.

Texas League


Arkansas    969
El Paso     1121
Frisco      1034
Midland     994
Round Rock  1029
San Antonio 878
Tulsa       959
Wichita     934

No real surprises here either. San Antonio ranks as the best pitcher's park in baseball; they've been there before.

Carolina League


Frederick     1040
Kinston       986
Lynchburg     999
Myrtle Beach  898
Potomac       978
Salem         986
Wilmington    973
Winston-Salem 1078

Frederick hasn't had a Park Factor as high as 1040 in 15 years, so that ranks as a mild Oriole surprise (they have had a couple of 1030s, though). Potomac's attempt to be a pitcher's park is surprising, since 1060-1080 has been closer to normal territory in recent years.

California League


Bakersfield      956
High Desert      1074
Lancaster        1072
Lake Elsinore    948
Modesto          982
Rancho Cucamonga 975
*San Bernardino  962
San Jose         894
Stockton         985
Visalia          1016

*("Inland Empire" sounds like something from a Conan movie)

San Jose is usually low, but not quite this low. Stockton's usually about as low as San Jose. Other than that, everybody else is pretty near normal.

Florida State League


Brevard County 966
Clearwater     995
Daytona        1086
Dunedin        1049
Ft. Myers      945
Jupiter        1006
Lakeland       994
Palm Beach     919
Sarasota       998
St. Lucie      1037
Tampa          989
Vero Beach     1008

When Daytona first came into the league 11 years ago, they put up numbers like this for four of their first five years, then settled into a consistent 1025 pace. Palm Beach was average a year ago, in their first season, and now looks like a pitcher's park. That's strange, because Palm Beach (991) and Jupiter (1006) play in the same park, which goes to show you just how variable 100-game park factors can be. Pooling the data with last year's results, the real factor for these teams should be around 970. Vero Beach is a lot lower than usual.

Midwest League


Battle Creek  971
Beloit        1032
Burlington    917
Cedar Rapids  1098
Clinton       1027
Dayton        1101
Ft. Wayne     932
Kane County   1028
Lansing       1017
Peoria        1001
Quad Cities   989
South Bend    967
West Michigan 956
Wisconsin     950

In the mid-to-late 90s, Burlington was the top hitter's park in the league; 2004 is almost certain to be their third straight year below 1000. Coincidentally enough, three years ago they replaced their field--not their stadium, just the playing surface. Cedar Rapids is much higher than usual, as is Dayton (normally high, just not this high).

South Atlantic League


Asheville       1100
Augusta         948
Charleston (SC) 939
Charleston (WV) 1036
Capital City    1002
Columbus        961
Delmarva        1046
Greensboro      966
Hagerstown      994
Hickory         1022
Kannapolis      1042
Lake County     1020
Lakewood        916
Lexington       1080
Rome            959
Savannah        899

Asheville is always outrageously high; this would actually be their lowest single-season park factor since 1995 if it holds up. Naturally, they are affiliated with the Rockies. Delmarva has been under 920 three of the last four years, so a 1046 from them just ices the weird Oriole farm system cake. Kannapolis and Lexington are on their high end. Savannah is low, but not spectacularly so.

Related Content:  1000 Runs,  Park Factors,  The Atlantic,  Quad-a

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