Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is Fenway really a hitter's park?

One of the concerns that some Sox fans have about Josh Beckett is the fact that he's going from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park. Sure enough, in 2005 Beckett posted a 2.47 ERA in Florida while putting up a 4.31 ERA on the road. Over the course of the last 3 years he's had a 2.87 ERA at home with a 4.10 ERA on the road. So we can probably expect an increase in his ERA because he is going from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park.

I figured I'd check to see how much of a pitcher's park they have down there in Miami compared to Fenway. According to the Bill James Handbook, over the last three years the park index for runs scored in Dolphins Stadium is 90. A 90 means that 10% fewer runs are scored in Marlins games at home compared to Marlins games on the road. A 100 would mean that the park is neutral in terms of offense. Fenway has a 10% swing the other way with a 110 park index for runs over the last 3 years. Something is a little off when you look at Fenway splits, however. Red Sox opponents scored 1059 runs against them in 216 Fenway games. In 216 Red Sox away games their opponents scored 1060 runs. In Fenway, Sox opponents combined for a .264/.317/.422 line compared to a .267/.324/.424 line against the Sox away from Fenway. So Sox opponents were actually very slightly better on the road then they were in Fenway. So why is Fenway considered to be such a hitter's park? Well, over the last 3 years the Red Sox have scored 1343 runs in Fenway while scoring only 1122 on the road. They have a very impressive .297/.372/.492 line in Fenway over the last 3 years compared to a .265/.335/.440 line. In other words, the 10% increase in run production at Fenway park is entirely because of the Red Sox and Fenway is actually a neutral park for opposing line ups.

The fact that Fenway isn't a hitter's park for the away team's line up will make things a bit easier for Josh Beckett, but it does raise a few questions as to why Fenway only seems to help Boston. Does the crowd pump them up that much? Are they so used to everyone expecting them to do better at home that they step up their game that much? There are a lot of people who say that a hitter is built for Fenway or has the perfect swing for Fenway. Guys like Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra are said to be Fenway type hitters. Are the Sox able to spot the type of hitter that will do well at Fenway and do they stack their line up with these guys? I know Kevin Millar loves to put the ball in foul ground. Maybe the fact that there is no foul ground at Fenway helps the guy out. I really don't know if there's any one factor that boosts Boston's offense so much when they're in Fenway.

I had stopped checking this page. Are you still going to post at Over the Monster?

Some opposing pitchers say that the Sox are stealing signs at home. I'm in the camp that the Sox build for their park. Good analysis showing the Sox home/road splits make Fenway the hitter's park it is.
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