Looking Way Too Deeply At Home Run Park Factors
One of the most enjoyable aspects of baseball for me is the intricacies of each stadium. Basketball, Football, Hockey, and Soccer have all the same playing field no matter where the game is played. With baseball, the playing field has different dimensions depending on the field. Different field dimensions create more or less favorable factors for hitters and types of hits. One of my favorite signals in daily fantasy baseball is using handedness park factors to gauge favorable matchups. For example, Righties are great at Fenway, Lefties are fantastic at Jacob’s Field.
For the most part, park factors have to do with the distance and height of the wall. The toughest HR park for lefties is AT&T Park, and looking at the dimensions it’s quite easy to see why.
Right field juts out vertically quickly, and the right center field goes all the way out to 420 feet. Also, the wall in right field is massive. Tons of flyballs that would be home runs in any other stadium hit the wall or go for outs at AT&T.
While handedness park factors do a good job of giving us a general idea of favorable parks for righties and lefties, we can go more in depth to see where exactly parks are most vulnerable to home runs, and what kind of hitters benefit most from that vulnerability. At AT&T park, a big lefty pull hitter would not be as bad off as a lefty who likes hitting flyballs to right center field.
Research on the intricacies of home run park factors has been done over at Beyond the Box Score. In this article, Chris St. John shows us exactly at what horizontal angle off the bat home runs are most favorable at different parks. I suggest you look through the data yourself, but there’s a few parks that stand out. Yankees Stadium is by far the most friendly park for fly balls out to right field, mostly because right field is not far out and has a small wall. US Cellular is the most friendly park for fly balls out to left field, probably because of the wind blowing out in that direction on most days.
Because these parks benefit extremely specific types of hits, pulled fly balls for left and right handers respectively, homerun hitters with a strong pull tendency and the correct handedness should have optimal home run conditions at these parks.
Finding the pull home run tendencies of hitters is not easy. Fangraphs has the data from the past couple years in their spray chart section. You can look at Chris Young’s here. Young has never hit an opposite field home run in his career, which makes U.S. Cellular Field extra favorable for him. Despite what Young’s data suggests, you don’t see such an extreme pull tendency on home runs for a lot of hitters. Miguel Cabrera, for example, tends to hit home runs all over, and would not have as much benefit from playing at U.S. Cellular as Young would.
Unfortunately, I don’t know a way to look at this data for everyone at once, it’s something you just have to weed through. A good first pass is to look at batted ball data and look for guys with large pull percentages. Most of the guys high up on this list practically only hit pull home runs. Even guys like Mark Teixeira and Carlos Santana, who are switch hitters, have massive pull tendencies from each side of the plate. Depending on the pitcher they are facing, Teixeira and Santana could have favorable matchups at either U.S. Cellular or Yankees Stadium. Conversely, guys like Joey Votto, who hit home runs to all fields, doesn’t benefit as much from favorable lefty home run parks.
Home Run tendencies are just a small factor to consider when choosing hitters in daily fantasy baseball, but it should definitely be used when evaluating hitters day to day.View all posts by Daniel Steinberg