Petco Park opened in 2004. Before this weekend, the Rockies and Padres had played 162 games against each other since then, one full season's worth of games. Eighty-three were in Colorado and 79 were in San Diego. Same pitchers, same hitters, same managers, same everything; just different parks. So how differently do Petco and Coors play?
If you want to make Petco more friendly to hitters, it's not enough to move the fences in.
There’s a story that has been told about Petco for years. It’s about a ballpark that was built too darned big. In this story, all the long fly balls get caught at the warning track. “You have to change completely there,” said Ryan Klesko at the beginning. “You have to take the loft out of your swing. Will they admit that they were wrong? No. Will they bring in the fences? No.” This is the story. This story may take a twist next year, as the team explores bringing the fences in. That should fix it!
Quietly, though, there has been another story playing out at Petco. It goes like this: the Padres’ hitters this year are the second-worst in the National League on balls hit on the ground. The Padres’ pitchers this year are the third-best in the National League on balls hit on the ground. This has been going on for years, and Ryan Klesko never said a freaking word.
The Monday Takeaway
Hitting three home runs in a game played at Petco Park is like acing three final exams after a night of heavy drinking. It can’t be done—unless you are Ryan Braun, that is.
The Brewers left fielder began his Monday evening with an inauspicious fly out to center in the first inning before going to work in the top of the fourth. First came this solo shot to the sandbox in right-center field, a place very few hitters are strong enough to reach at Petco. An inning later, Braun checked the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse off his list of targets with a two-run blast. And in the seventh, Ernesto Frieri made the mistake of hanging a curveball to Braun, who deposited it just over the fence in left to complete the trifecta.
Will Venable is entering his prime years, but his career numbers leave people guessing as to whether he is extremely overrated or underrated.
There is some sentiment in the analyst community that Padres outfielder Will Venable ranks among the most underrated players in baseball. The theory is that Petco Park stifles his offensive game, while Cameron Maybin's presence in center field pushes Venable to right field, depressing his value further.
Is this a fair assessment of Venable? Is he a miscast corner outfielder whose abilities aren't being maximized due to external factors? Or is he a gifted athlete whose baseball skills never developed as well as they might have if he'd committed to the sport earlier in life?
The big-league deadline dealing was out of your control, but with some players in new venues, you may need to adapt and adjust.
The trade deadline can be an excellent or terrible day for fantasy owners, depending on how many of your players are moved and where. Maybe you get lucky and your ace pitcher with no run support is dealt to a team with an offense, or maybe a team with a terrible park for pitchers is desperate for an arm and acquires your guy. That was pretty rude of those general managers to swap your guys without your consent, but it's over now, and you need to figure out where to adjust.
If only we could see what the Padres' slugger could do during a season as something other than a Padre.
You don't hear much said about how good of a hitter Adrian Gonzalez actually is. The main problem is his home park, Petco. Even though Gonzalez consistently performs better there than his teammates, the end product still drags down his overall line. That's why he has hit "just" .288/.357/.504 from 2006-2008 in spite of a very impressive .306/.367/.560 road line. The split is even more extreme this year, in Gonzalez' age-27 season: hitting .254/.428/.492 is great for someone stuck in Petco (the league is hitting a very ugly .222/.308/.351 there), but his performance on the road towers above that, as he's hitting .288/.401/.674.
The new Yankeee Stadium has received a lot of press this spring for the large number of homeruns hit there so far. On April 21, 2009, Buster Olney wrote at ESPN http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4080195 "The New York Yankees might have a serious problem on their hands: Beautiful new Yankee Stadium appears to be a veritable wind tunnel that is rocketing balls over the fences...including 17 in the first three games in the Yankees' first home series against the Indians. That's an average of five home runs per game and, at this pace, there would be about 400 homers hit in the park this year -- or an increase of about 250 percent. In the last year of old Yankee Stadium, in 2008, there were a total of 160 homers."
A player whose power is tamped down by the faraway walls of Petco.
Last week we took a look at how the wind and his home park affected Kevin Youkilis' home-run production in 2008. Youkilis is an example of a player who is being overrated due to some homers receiving a boost from those factors, but it can work both ways; there are also players who are underrated due to these same effects holding their power numbers down, and this time out we'll take a look at one of them.