How To Read Park Factors
There are a few pointers and notes to keep in mind when looking over park factors. Park factors are going to have an overall number, but it is broken down into left and right-handed park factors for hitters. For example, Fenway Park is an interesting park to break down because it plays actually less for true home run power and is very different for left-handed and right-handed bats. It is one of the toughest parks for left-handed bats to hit a home run in. It is about 20% below league average, and then it is 5% lower for right-handed bats. However, left-handed bats have better odds for extra base hits. Minute Maid Park in Houston has an above average park factor for right-handed home runs, and closer to league average for left-handed home runs. Handedness is extremely important when looking at park factors.
Park factors are broken into different categories. For many, home run park factors is usually the one they want to find. 100 is league average, and anything under is how many home runs are produced below that mark. The same will go for numbers higher than 100. Extra base hits like doubles and triples play a part as well, as some larger parks excel in this department because those balls that may have been home runs in other parks are now triples instead. We do see huge outfields where gap hitters actually can get a bump. This leads us to our next set of park factors as the type of ball hit like groundball, line drive, and fly balls each have their worth within a park because of the dimensions and average weather.
What Makes A Good Hitters Park?
Not all parks are created equal, and we have some extreme hitters parks, league average hitters parks, and then parks that play against the favor of a hitter. So what decides this? For one, dimensions will play a factor into a good hitters park. Small ballparks like Cincinnati play well from both sides, where foul poles are less than 330 feet away. Great American Ballpark has above average extra base hit park factors to the right-handed hitters, and extreme home run park factors for both sides of the plate. Dimensions are not the only reason for a good hitters park.
Weather is a big factor. We always see offensive numbers go up over the summer months because of the overall warmer weather. It is tough to hit in cold weather already, but the ball also doesn’t fly as far in colder weather. Those ballparks that sit above sea level, like the extreme Coors Field, the altitude has thinner air, which is why the ball goes farther. They have made adjustments to wall heights and distances over the years, and they actually have further left and right foul pole distances than most stadiums. It doesn’t matter much because of the altitude.
An underlying factor is also the size of foul grounds. Oakland for one has huge foul grounds. This creates outs that may not be outs at other stadiums, reducing the chances for actual hits and runs. This can also work in favor for pitchers, but also negatively affect strikeout numbers, which we will get to below. There are numerous reasons for why parkers can be favorable for hitters. Weather and air density is a big factor, because Target Field in Minnesota plays big in colder weather, but is actually a strong hitters park in warmer weather.
What Makes A Good Pitchers Park?
A lot of pitchers parks are on the West coast. In addition to dimensions, the marine layer in California ballparks and overall parks on the water makes it tough for the ball to travel. The air is thicker, making it harder for the baseball to move. It is no surprise to see Petco Park in San Diego and Oracle Park in San Francisco be strong pitchers parks. The ball just doesn’t carry well. They also rarely get those hot humid days like the rest of the country. You also have Oakland Coliseum out there and T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Weather has a major effect on how park factors operate.
Dimensions do play a factor as well, because some fields are just simply larger than others. In addition to cooler weather, the home of the Mets, Citi Field, is one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball. Marlins Park is another one, where it is 344 feet out to left field, and 335 feet to right. Out to center is 407 feet. The fences are also on the higher side, making it an extreme pitchers park all around.
Wrigley Field Wind
Wrigley Field deserved its own section. The swirling winds around Wrigley can create a tremendous atmosphere for hitters, but can also make Wrigley one of the best pitching stadiums on any given night. Winds can be blowing out 15-20 mph on a steady basis, and you will often see totals in the double-digits because of this. A routine fly ball can get up in the air and just carry for days. On an opposite day with winds blowing in, a home run on an average day could be stopped in its tracks. Recognizing the wind and how it will play makes it important for those betting and playing daily fantasy baseball. Looking at wind and weather is just simply good practice when evaluating any ballpark for betting or fantasy.
Top Hitters Parks In Baseball
Coors Field is the extreme, and in a league of their own when it comes to park factors. The altitude is unlike any other stadium in baseball and it is a haven for offensive players. There are still a lot of strong hitters parks in baseball. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a strong park for home runs, especially left-handed power bats because it is only 318 down the line and the fence is higher but not enough to negate power. Right-handed hitters have also enjoyed strong power numbers in Baltimore.
Yankee Stadium is of course one of the smaller parks in baseball. It doesn’t play well for extra base hits to left-handed hitters because of the 314 foot short porch down the right field line, but the power upside is there for home runs. Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is also a great hitters park, and plays above average for home runs and overall runs. The new Texas ballpark should still play favorable to hitters, and stadiums for the White Sox and Reds are two of the stronger hitters parks as well.
Top Pitchers Parks In Baseball
Looking at the opposite of hitters parks, you will find most of the top pitchers parks in California or Florida. One of the toughest places for home runs is Oracle Park in San Francisco. Marlins Park and the Oakland Coliseum are up there as well. Petco Park and T-Mobile Park are two of the top pitchers parks as well. Pointed out above, weather plays a factor in these parks with thicker air which makes the ball tougher to travel through. In combination with the dimensions, you get some strong parks to pitch in.
Moving around the rest of the country, Busch Stadium is a rather big park and it has limited production for hitters. It has below average extra base hit park factors for right-handers and left-handers. Power numbers are also down as are overall runs. Staying in the NL Central, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is a larger park that plays in a pitcher’s favor. Tropicana Field, Citi Field, and Angel Stadium are all below league average in runs.
Using Park Factors For Daily Fantasy Baseball
There is quite a bit to research for daily fantasy baseball, and park factors should be one of the stops you make. Looking at Vegas numbers will have park factors baked into a degree. You tend to see the higher totals in more favorable ballparks, and the opposite with smaller numbers in better pitchers parks. Going one step further to help figure out what teams to stack or how left and right-handed batters have an edge can give you an edge on those who are not doing this type of research.
Looking at it for hitters, pin pointing which handedness of hitters have plus park factors is a good way to start. Maximizing upside is going to come from bigger power numbers, and sometimes those parks are going to take away those chances. You are not going to find a lot of upside out in San Francisco. It is extremely tough for home run hitters, and we tend to see a lot of lower totals overall. This means pitching could have the upper hand there. If a game is being played in Yankee Stadium, both home and away left-handed bats are going to have a big advantage for home run upside.
When games are played in Coors and are on a daily fantasy slate, ownership is going to flock towards this game. We have also seen sites inflate the prices because of ownership and also the upside is simply too high to just plug them in. They wanted to make it tougher to just stack Coors and move on. But stacking is important too for park factors. Finding stadiums that provide runs, home runs, and extra base hits should be calculated into your research.
One thing to note for pitchers, is a large ballpark helps a pitcher, but could it limit upside for fantasy? We want strikeouts in daily fantasy, as they hold the glue for a pitcher and give a floor but also they help with the ceiling of a pitcher. Now some ballparks actually lower strikeout upside. This has a lot to do with foul ground size. A smaller foul ground area is going to give you more two strike chances and less outs via a foul ball. Those larger foul ball grounds create more outs that way. It shouldn’t be something to deter you away from a pitcher, but something worth mentioning.
Using Park Factors For Season Long Fantasy Baseball
Park factors are something to take into consideration for when you are drafting your season long baseball teams. Of course some of this is already baked into projections, but if you are making decisions based on your own projections or not totally relying on them, then this is key. For players that are moving, we now have to consider that over a half of their games are going to be at new ballparks. They will have 81 at their home stadium, but also will have more games against their division. For example, Nick Castellanos is moving from the Tigers/Cubs from last season to Cincinnati. He gets an excellent upgrade in park factors for his home ballpark.
For pitchers, moving from the AL to the NL is already a big shift because of the DH. But you are also getting a whole new set of opponents and parks. David Price getting traded from Boston to the Los Angeles Dodgers is a big shift in park factors. He won’t have to deal with Yankee Stadium, Oriole Park, and the Rogers Centre. Now he gets Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, and Oracle Park as three strong pitchers parks. Of course Coors will be in the mix, but only for a start or two. These are noticeable changes that could swing his fantasy ceiling in the right direction.
How to Utilize Handedness & Splits?
Parks will play different to both lefties and righties. Fenway Park is one that stands out for the very unique dimensions. Left-handers have below average park factors for home runs at Fenway Park. They still have above average extra base-hit potential, but it is tough to drive one out at Fenway if you are left-handed. Right-handers have better home run park factors at Fenway, even with the Green Monster. Wrigley Field was another one that played really well for right-handed home runs, being very above average. But for left-handed home runs, it was 7% below the league average.
Being conscious of how a park plays for a specific handedness is very important. This is also a reason why some players or teams hit better at home compared to on the road. Yankee Stadium has been a favorable ballpark for left-handed hitters, even going back to the old Yankee Stadium. It leads all stadiums in park factors for left-handed hitters. When we look at some splits for their players, it isn’t shocking to see their power numbers taper off when they go on the road. This can also work the other way, where a hitter hits in a big ballpark for half of his game, and then visits more favorable hitter’s parks and thrives. Pitchers can have the same type of splits. Pitchers that throw in larger ballparks tend to have a better ERA, and then once they get on the road they start to struggle.
MLB Park Factors Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Park Factors?
Park factors is a formula calculated to breakdown how parks have an effect on hitters and pitchers. It is broken out into extra base hits, runs, home runs, and batted ball stats as well. Each park has its own park factor to showcase weaknesses and strengths.
How Do Baseball Stadium Dimensions Affect Batting Statistics?
Each stadium has its own set of dimensions, and that can play in favor for hitters both negatively and positively. If a right field fence is close in, power numbers might be enhanced in comparison to a deeper right field fence.
Why Do Baseball Fields Have Different Dimensions?
Each stadium is created to be different, because within MLB rules, you have the ability to create a stadium that is unique. Stadiums on occasion will also change after the build and lower a fence, or push them out a few feet.
What Is The Smallest Field In MLB?
Fenway Park has the shortest distance from centerfield to home plate. They also have the shortest distance from the right and left field foul pole to home. However they negate this with the fence level, called the Green Monster which takes away power.
What Is Largest Field In MLB?
Comerica Park for Detroit has a large straight away centerfield with 420 feet from home plate to dead center. The right field pole is 345 and the left field is 330, resulting in one of the larger fields in baseball. Minute Maid and Oracle Park as up there as well.
Why Are There No Seats In Center Field?
If you have been watching a baseball game or have been to a baseball game, you will not see seats behind a good portion of centerfield. This is because the batter’s eye is back there, which is a space that is blank that helps the hitter see the ball.
Who Has The Best Hitting Park Factors?
Coors Field in Colorado is notoriously known for park factors. Playing above sea level helps the ball fly, but it also has a negative effect on certain pitches. Coors Field continues to rank first in park factors making it tough on pitchers and great for hitters.
Who Has The Best Pitching Park Factors?
Oracle Park out in San Francisco has largely been in the bottom five in park factors over the last few years. It is a tough dimension park to hit for power, and there are decent sized foul grounds as well. Weather and air density also play its part.