What’s the best metric that measures a players power? It’s Statcast’s power metric barrels (BRL) of course. In fact, 57.1% of Barrels have resulted in home runs since the metric was introduced in 2015. That’s a very high percentage. As you would imagine, the ratio has fluctuated quite a bit year-to-year. The juiced ball is very likely a factor in some of those fluctuations. What I mean by “juiced ball” is that the properties of the ball itself are different causing the ball to travel further. We will cover this later. Anyways, the point is, you want to target players who can Barrel the ball at a high clip. That’s not exactly groundbreaking, everyone knows this. What about ballparks though? How does each ballpark, with their unique dimensions, handle barreled balls?
I’ve compiled the four full seasons of Statcast data (2015-2018) for each ballpark in the Major Leagues that includes home Runs, barrels, barreled home runs, and non-barreled home Runs. It’s pretty simple, the parks that generate a higher percentage of home runs per barrel (HR/BRL) are rated higher and vice versa. Of course, there are the non-barreled home runs, or what I call the “cheap homers.” Those must be factored in as well. These would be the cheap homers for example, in Minute Maid Park short fly balls that fall in the Crawford boxes or a short shot down the line in Fenway around Pesky’s Pole. Those are just two examples, but most parks have their quirks. The sample sizes aren’t going to be perfect, but four years of data provide at least 900 barrels at each stadium. This is what we have to work with. It’s too early in 2019 to include this data, so let’s get to it.
First, we need to look at the league averages for HR/BRL since 2015. Keep in mind, my previous two articles looking at over/underachievers in HR/BRL was a bit lazy as I did not remove the non-barreled home runs when calculating the numbers. So these ratios will be different but more accurate.
Leauge Average Rates - HR/BRL
What do we have here? While there is some fluctuation from 2015 to 2016, the jump in 2017 shows that clearly, something changed. So far in 2019, the current HR/BRL rate is 55.2%. That’s in line with the “non-juiced ball” seasons of 2015 and 2016. However, limiting the sample to only the month of April yields different results. Weather plays a role in how far the ball travels, more specifically, humidity and temperature. As the weather warms up, humidity rises, and the ball travels further. For comparison sake, in 2018 through the month of April, the HR/BRL% was 47.37%. In 2017, it was 56.0%. It’s becoming evident that we are dealing with a juiced ball yet again this year similar to 2017. Bring on the dingers! Ok, enough chatter, let’s get to the Home Run Park Factors based on Barrels.
Home Run Park Factors Using Barrels (HR/BRL)
|6||HOU||1.078||Rem Tal's Hill|
|21||ARI||0.950||1 YR w/ Humidor|
|25||ATL||0.928||2 YR of Data|
MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
The league-average rate over the last four years is roughly 57.25%. Great American Ballpark (GAB) leads the pack by a long-shot. Since 2015, GAB in Cincinnati has yielded home runs on 68.6% of barreled balls (HR/BRL). At the bottom of the list, Oracle Park (Formerly ATT Park) in San Francisco has seen just home runs on just 40.7% of barreled balls. The other factor that I’ve included in the Barrel Home Run Park Factors is the non-barreled home runs or “cheap homers.” GAB regularly finished inside the top three in non-barreled home runs as well with Minute Maid Park (HOU) and Yankee Stadium (NYY) rounding out the top three. This factor is another reason Cincy has far and away the highest HR park factor based on HR/BRL.
Nothing really jumps out at the top with CIN, NYY, COL, CHW, PHI are all at the top which passes the eye test. The only result that may surprise people is how much better Great American Ballpark is than Coors Field. Coors certainly aids in terms of home runs but where it really benefits hitters is in terms of BABIP because of the expansive outfield. If you want homers, you want to be in Cincy. If you’re looking to aid all facets of hitting, you want Coors Field.
Where it gets interesting is finding out that Petco Park (Ranked 7th) in San Diego and Citi Field (Ranked 8th) in New York are rated so high on the list. The perception is that both parks are pitchers parks but in reality, they allow more HR/BRL than notorious hitter’s parks such as Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia and Arlington Park in Texas. Maybe we need to stop streaming pitchers when they pitch in San Diego? It gives me some hope that both Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe can mash their ways to 40 homers. As far as Citi Field, well, I’ll admit, a small portion of my bold prediction which included Michael Conforto leading the NL in home runs had something to do with this data. Pete Alonso is certainly making the ballpark look small but I don’t think it matters where he hits.
I’ll touch on Minute Maid Park in Houston because, in terms of HR/BRL%, the park was league average. However, it was ranked number one in terms of non-barreled home runs. Why? Those damn Crawford Boxes in left-center field. Sure the wall is higher (19-feet), but it’s just 315 feet down the left-field line and 362 feet in the power alley. There are some easy homers to left at Minute Maid making it especially favorable to righty pull hitters aka Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve and lefty bats with power to the opposite field.
I’ll be using this data going forward trying to spot some outliers and both over/underperformers based on the power metrics going forward. It explains why so many Reds hitters (Scooter Gennett and Jose Peraza) showed up on my original HR/BRL article highlighting overperformers. It’s also extremely concerning that Joey Votto can’t hit homers anymore even with his aided home park. On the other hand, a guy like Trey Mancini came up in my underperformers list and he should be aided based on his home park. He’s off to a really nice start, so let’s hope that continues.
$10 FOR A LIGHT BEER?
Oracle Park (Formerly AT&T Park) is at the bottom of the list. No surprise there. It’s last by a long-shot. I don’t want to turn back the clock too far but it makes Barry Bonds’ home run record even that much more impressive. I’m convinced, if he played in a hitters park, he would have hit 850 homers in his career. Kansas City, Detroit, St. Louis, and Miami round out the remaining bottom five. That seems about right. Suntrust Park is sixth from the bottom but only have two years of data there. For me, there might be too much noise to draw conclusions. Don’t go out and devalued Ronald Acuna Jr. or Ozzie Albies because of just years of data.
I wanted to discuss Fenway Park because it did not rate out well in terms of HR/BRL%. You might think the Green Monster giveth but the Green Monster also taketh away. While that’s true to a small extent, it actually is the expansive centerfield and deep right field beyond Pesky’s Pole. BABIP gets a huge boost in Fenway due to the Green Monster and the deep dimensions I just mentioned. So, Fenway isn’t great for home runs but is still considered a good hitters park because of the Green Monster and the dimensions. It’s amazing J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts were able to put up the power totals they did in 2018. If they can manage similar barrel rates in 2019, we should see a boost in production, which is insane. However, those barrel rates were career-highs for both, so I’m not banking on it.
Anything else interesting you see with these factors? Just let me know and we can discuss it.