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That deafening buzz you heard when the 2016 MLB schedule was released last week? No, that wasn’t the product of a primetime network special, with a slow reveal of key matchups, Opening Day pairings, and an outline of which television partners get to broadcast the most Yankees-Red Sox games. It was the members of Baseball Twitter trying to one-up themselves about the lack of a primetime network special, with a slow reveal of key matchups, Opening Day… okay, you get it. We were poking fun at another league.

Jokes aside, it’s a fair point. Next year’s schedule release is not a newsworthy event in and of itself, especially when it’s done in September, a time when we don’t have to fish for next season’s narratives. The Rangers and Astros are currently playing head-to-head with the AL West on the line, the Yanks and Jays meet again next week, the three mighty teams in the NL Central are in the midst of a round robin to determine playoff slots, and the Nationals have a legitimate shot to finish above .500. (Too soon? Apologies. I’m just over here wearing my hastily ordered Endy Chavez jersey and trying to remember how to act from the pole position.)

One thing a fresh, full 162-game slate does provide, however, is the opportunity to explore how a team’s season-long mix of opponents might affect its players’ values. We’re months away from intelligent commentary about what 2016 rosters might look like, so I’ll spare you any inane observations about which team’s schedule is softer than the next one’s. What we do know is where each team will play each of its games next season, which allows us to explore whether the mix of parks may influence a team or player’s 2016 performance.

A team plays half of its schedule at home, so it follows that any team’s home park will be the overwhelming driver of its overall competitive environment relative to the rest of the league. This is the kind of hard-hitting analysis you come here for, to be sure. Here’s some more, and see if those you who aren’t good at fractions can stay with me: considering home park alone leaves another full half of a team’s schedule unaccounted for. Unless you’re ordering a beer at a banquet, it is downright lazy to say “Coors!” and leave it at that. Sure, Yohan Flande and Ben Paulsen’s mustache has to/gets to play at elevation 81 times, but they have another 27 in AT&T Park, Petco, and Dodger Stadium.

Colorado’s road schedule will never completely overwhelm the benefit of Coors, of course, but to what extent does its road slate dampen the Coors effect over the course of a season? I tried to answer that by using the 2016 schedule to calculate each team’s full schedule park factor, and then compared it to the factor of its home park, hoping to see some divergence.

[Quick math interlude: It’s a simple calculation. Take the average of the park factors for each stadium a team plays in, weighted by the number of games a team plays in that stadium. I calculated three-year average park factors based on our Park Factors by Handedness. On to the results.]

National League – RHB – HR Factor

National League – RHB – Runs Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Phillies

120

109

Rockies

113

106

Brewers

112

106

Brewers

102

101

Cubs

110

105

Diamondbacks

102

101

Reds

109

105

Cubs

102

100

Rockies

109

104

Marlins

101

100

Mets

100

100

Phillies

101

100

Dodgers

101

100

Braves

100

100

Braves

99

100

Nationals

100

100

Diamondbacks

98

99

Reds

99

99

Cardinals

96

99

Cardinals

98

99

Padres

96

98

Pirates

96

98

Nationals

93

97

Dodgers

96

98

Pirates

90

96

Mets

95

98

Marlins

89

95

Giants

95

97

Giants

88

95

Padres

93

97

In an unsurprising result, not much changes with respect to the order of teams, when ranked from most favorable park factor to least. In the National League, Phillies right-handed batters have the highest HR factor and Giants the lowest, both in their home parks and for their 162 game schedules on the whole. Save for the Mets and Dodgers switching places, each team ranks in the same position when comparing home factors to full-schedule factors.

Rather than a re-shuffling of the order, what stands out is that the difference between the most and least favorable park factors gets much tighter when accounting for the mix of road parks. For example, with the exception of the Rockies, no team in the National League plays a schedule that deviates from the league-average run-scoring environment by more than three percentage points in either direction.

Here’s the picture for National League left-handed batters:

National League – LHB – HR Factor

National League – LHB – Runs Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Brewers

117

108

Rockies

110

105

Reds

116

108

Diamondbacks

108

104

Dodgers

109

105

Brewers

105

102

Rockies

106

104

Dodgers

101

101

Diamondbacks

105

103

Reds

100

100

Padres

104

102

Cubs

100

100

Mets

105

101

Cardinals

98

99

Phillies

105

101

Padres

96

98

Cubs

99

100

Nationals

98

98

Pirates

96

99

Mets

98

98

Cardinals

94

98

Giants

95

98

Braves

95

97

Phillies

97

98

Nationals

90

95

Pirates

96

98

Giants

82

92

Braves

96

97

Marlins

81

91

Marlins

93

96

There are a couple more instances here of teams moving up or down the rankings by a spot or two, but again, the primary takeaway is the shortening distance between the most and least favorable schedules. Generally speaking, the teams at the extremes are seeing half of their gap relative to league average disappear by accounting for the games they play on the road.

And the junior circuit:

American League – RHB – HR Factor

American League – RHB – Runs Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Yankees

113

107

Royals

105

103

Blue Jays

112

106

Red Sox

104

102

White Sox

106

103

Tigers

102

101

Astros

106

103

Twins

102

101

Orioles

103

102

White Sox

101

101

Red Sox

102

102

Indians

101

101

Indians

101

100

Blue Jays

101

100

Twins

98

100

Athletics

101

100

Rangers

99

100

Astros

101

100

Tigers

98

99

Yankees

101

100

Athletics

97

99

Rangers

100

100

Mariners

96

98

Orioles

98

99

Angels

95

98

Mariners

97

98

Rays

92

97

Angels

96

98

Royals

91

96

Rays

95

97

American League – LHB – HR Factor

American League – LHB – Runs Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Team

Home Factor

Schedule Factor

Orioles

116

109

Orioles

108

105

Yankees

115

108

Rangers

106

103

Astros

112

106

Rays

105

103

Blue Jays

107

105

Red Sox

101

102

Rays

108

105

Yankees

101

101

Indians

104

102

Indians

103

101

Rangers

101

101

Twins

102

101

White Sox

102

101

Royals

101

101

Mariners

100

100

Astros

101

100

Twins

97

99

Tigers

100

100

Angels

94

98

Blue Jays

98

100

Tigers

95

98

Angels

97

99

Royals

93

97

White Sox

96

98

Red Sox

85

95

Mariners

95

98

Athletics

88

95

Athletics

95

98

More of the same here: Teams bunching together in the middle and the extremes coming back to the pack.

What’s the takeaway for fantasy purposes, then? It’s not team or player-specific, but rather that home environments should rarely, if ever, drive decision-making. With the exception of a couple situations—I’m still not going near a Colorado pitcher—there’s just not enough separation between teams over the course of a full season to let context prevail over skill.

By way of example, I doubt I’d have to look very hard to find people who discounted Nelson Cruz entering 2015, in part or whole because of Safeco Field. I don’t begrudge anyone who had that opinion even though Safeco isn’t as hard on righties as its reputation might suggest. Hell, I was probably in that group, as this is a mistake I’ve certainly made several times in my fantasy baseballing career.

Looking forward at 2016’s free agent class, almost anywhere Chris Davis goes would be a downgrade from Baltimore’s left-handed power boost, and you’re sure to hear about how Justin Upton’s potential move out of Petco could make him more productive. Those things are true to an extent, but be sure to value the skills first and use the environment as a tiebreaker when two players are evenly ranked on your board.

Thank you for reading

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