As a Mets fan, I know that David Wright loves to hit at Citizens Bank Park (.342 last four seasons). Whether it’s at home or a specific ballpark on the road, top players around the league all seem to have their happy places.
The impact of park factors on run production has been an emerging topic around baseball. Fantasy Labs allows DFS players to research MLB stadium trends, but DraftKings and FanDuel seem inclined to weigh matchups much more heavily than park effects. This leaves the door open to exploit stadiums that present favorable matchups and fade those that suffocate upside.
It’s pretty easy to run a Fantasy Labs Trend to find out league-wide information about stadiums. You’ll find out that Coors Field is a hitter’s dream and the dimensions at Petco Park are perfect for pitchers – but I bet you’ve already heard that 10 or 15 times this week.
Since finding the right matchups for high-investment players is so crucial, I set out to find out which parks are conducive to the game’s top players. My methodology was to take the top 33% of hitters by count then sort out the top 25% of these hitters by PPG. The pitching parameters were a bit more expansive to allow for a greater sample – top 50% by count, then separate the top 33% of the remaining matches by PPG. This allowed us to separate the most sustained and successful players on each side.
The baseline for hitters came out to: 88+ games and 8.2+ PPG (count: 2,396)
The baseline for pitchers came out to: 16+ games and 17.1+ PPG (count: 574)
If you’re not sure what types of players these stats yield, here are the most recent matches:
These high-caliber names carry large price tags and an expectation of transcending park effects. But how do they see their success impacted by stadiums across the league?
Notes and outliers: The average +/- results are more dramatic under the study. This is in part due to sample size. The samples on the left are approximately 10x greater than those yielded by the study, but the 80-100 games is equivalent to an entire season of home games.
Dodger Stadium doesn’t show up on the overall list, but checks in as the top ballpark according to the study. This may be due to Chavez Ravine traditionally being home to some of the league’s best weather – there hasn’t been a rainout in 15 years. Here we see HR per AB by hitters at Dodger Stadium:
Premiere hitters score more PPG at Coors than the league average, but a lower +/- due to higher expected point values.
Miller Park personally comes to mind as the most underrated park for hitters, and this list confirms my theory. According to ESPN’s 2015 Park Factors, Milwaukee is the most hitter-friendly site for runs and homers.
Petco Park is a notorious pitchers park, but checks in as a top-10 park under the study parameters. The 8.68 average points by top performers at Petco is more than the league average scores at Chase Field (#2 overall).
Top hitters prosper at Wrigley Field more than the rest of the league. The hitters that qualified in the study scored 2.3 more PPG with the wind blowing out rather than in.
My detailed study on Mike Trout revealed his struggles at Minute Maid Park – apparently the reigning AL MVP isn’t the only slugger that is thrown off by the quirky dimensions.
Notes and outliers: The sample sizes that we are working with in the study range from 15 to 30. This seems small but in perspective, but 30 starts in one park is a significant number – Clayton Kershaw has started 13 games at AT&T Park over the course of his eight-year career.
Elite pitchers love the Trop. Tropicana Field is the only remaining indoor stadium that lacks a removable dome. This makes all weather – rain, wind, humidity – irrelevant to the game going on inside.
The heat at Globe Life Park in Arlington actually appears to have a positive effect on top fantasy pitchers. Over the past two seasons, Globe Life has had over twice as many games played in 85+ degree weather as the next highest stadium.
Fenway Park has been a nightmare for top pitchers, averaging 8 points below expectation. It’s hard to explain – maybe it’s the short corners or maybe the Curse of the Bambino lives on for opposing aces.
Minute Maid Park is also a situation to avoid for elite pitchers. Of all aces to pitch in Houston over the past two seasons, only 33% have managed to match or exceed their expected value.