MLB Park Factors (Fantasy Baseball)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Feb 12, 2018

It’s no secret to fantasy gamers and baseball fans in general that ballparks around Major League Baseball — and in the minors (you can check out minor-league park factors by clicking on the minor-league level tabs and individual ballparks here) and other leagues worldwide, for that matter — play differently. Ballparks that enhance run scoring are often deemed hitter-friendly parks, and those that suppress runs are referred to as pitcher-friendly parks. Beyond impacting run scoring, park factors play a role in balls leaving the park, too. Some of the smaller ballparks in which homers leave the yard at higher rates are referred to as bandboxes. Understanding how various ballparks play is an important consideration when drafting players and even when streaming in-season. Thankfully, you can check out ballpark factors here. On the ballpark factor landing page, you can also breakdown park factors by handedness, which is an important consideration, as a homer-friendly venue might actually be homer-friendly for one handedness of hitter while playing neutral or actually suppressing dingers to the other handedness of hitter. Below, I break down the ballparks into various categories, and I open with one park that’s a bit of a mystery.

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Chase Field (Diamondbacks)
Go ahead and forget everything you know about Chase Field. Arizona’s home ballpark has traditionally been one of the best run-scoring and homer-hitting ballparks in MLB. That’s going to change this season, though. Last year, the Diamondbacks announced plans to build and utilize a humidor in their home park. They weren’t able to do so in 2017, but they will be using a humidor this season. Physics professor Alan Nathan wrote about the likely impact of using a humidor at Chase Field for The Hardball Times, and you can read that piece here. I’d advise reading the entire piece, but for those looking for an eye-popping number from his analysis, Nathan concluded, “I am very comfortable saying that, with the humidor running at 50 percent and 700F, there will a reduction in home run production at Chase by 25-50 percent.”

SunTrust Park (Braves)
Last year was the first in which the Braves played games at their new stadium, SunTrust Park. You can see the single-season park factors for SunTrust Park from 2017 on ESPN’s ballpark factor page. According to ESPN, SunTrust Park was tied for 17th in run park factor (highest ranking first and lowest ranking last) and slightly reduced run scoring (0.971 park factor with 1.000 being neutral). It also ranked 19th in homer park factor (0.951). Baseball Prospectus’ park factors break things down by handedness, and according to BP, SunTrust Park played tough on right-handed batters (91 homer park factor and 95 run park factor with 100 being neutral), but it was a hitter’s haven for lefties (108 park factor for both runs and homers).

Run-amplifying Parks (10% or greater boost for run scoring)

Park (Team) Park Factor (1.000 neutral)
Coors Field (Rockies) 1.432
Fenway Park (Red Sox) 1.156
Progressive Field (Indians) 1.133
Globe Life Park in Arlington (Rangers) 1.117

 
The quartet of venues featured in the table above are the cream of the crop for run scoring. Predictably, Coors is the crown jewel of run-scoring parks. Coors leads the way in runs park factor for lefties and righties. Fenway Park and Progressive Field have slightly higher park factors for runs for left-handed batters than righties, but both parks enhance run scoring for each handedness of hitter. Conversely, Globe Life Park in Arlington boosts run scoring for lefties by just 5.3% compared to bumping it up by 11% for right-handed hitters.

Run-suppressing Parks (10% or greater reduction to run scoring)

Park (Team) Park Factor (1.000 neutral)
Citi Field (Mets) 0.900
Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Angels) 0.897
Safeco Field (Mariners) 0.884
Dodger Stadium (Dodgers) 0.877

 
These four parks are the premier pitcher-friendly venues in MLB. It’s important to note, however, that run suppression doesn’t mean homer suppression. Citi Field (1.019), Safeco Field (1.037), and Dodger Stadium (1.025) all provide a homer lift to hitters despite depressing scoring. All four parks play pitcher-friendly against either handedness of hitter.

Homer-amplifying Parks (10% or greater boost for homers)

Park (Team) Park Factor (1.000 neutral)
Yankee Stadium (Yankees) 1.355
Coors Field (Rockies) 1.285
Miller Park (Brewers) 1.220
Great American Ball Park (Reds) 1.190
Citizens Bank Park (Phillies) 1.163

 
I’m sure you’re shocked to see Coors Field in another table that favors hitting. Even with the humidor, dingers fly out at a high rate in Colorado. They don’t, however, fly out of the park at the highest rate in MLB. Yankee Stadium leads the way in homer park factor, and it boosts taters by 25.8% to right-handed batters and a remarkable 50.7% to lefties. Yankee Stadium’s park factors for homers by handedness rank second to Coors Field for righties (1.381) and second to Miller Park for lefties (1.617). Even though Yankee Stadium sees a ton of balls turn into souvenirs, it plays almost exactly neutral (1.001) for run scoring. As a neutral run-scoring environment, pitchers on the Yankees who keep the ball on the ground such as Luis Severino (50.6% GB% in 2017, per FanGraphs), Masahiro Tanaka (49.2% GB%), CC Sabathia (49.9% GB%), and Sonny Gray (47.3% GB%) shouldn’t be penalized too harshly in pre-draft rankings due to their home park. Citizens Bank Park has a sizable gap in homer park factor by handedness with lefties treated to a modest 1.082 park factor for homers and righties getting a massive lift at 1.225 (third highest for right-handed hitters).

Homer-suppressing Parks (10% or greater reduction for homers)

Park (Team) Park Factor (1.000 neutral)
Tropicana Field (Rays) 0.900
PNC Park (Pirates) 0.841
Kauffman Stadium (Royals) 0.801
O.co Coliseum (Athletics) 0.794
Marlins Park (Marlins) 0.773
AT&T Park (Giants) 0.658

 
If you’re streaming for dingers or searching for long balls on draft day, hitters who play in these six parks have the toughest row to hoe. AT&T Park is death on homers and ranks dead last in homers for lefties (0.588) and righties (0.712). Fly-ball pitchers stand out as the primary beneficiaries of playing in these six parks. The six parks in the table above rank as the six hardest venues for right-handed batters to hit homers in. However, lefties get a slight boost for homers in Tropicana Field (1.014) and PNC Park (1.016).

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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