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2020 BABIP Outliers – What to Expect in 2021

Typically, at the midway point of the regular season, I cover BABIP outliers to buy and fade for the second half. However, since we only had a 60 game season, I’ll cover buys and fades for 2021. During the 2019 season, I wrote this piece and by in large, regression set in for most of these hitters in the second half.  Let’s apply that same thinking to the hitters below for 2021. Keep in mind that the expected BABIP (xBABIP) I calculated below is descriptive, so it doesn’t mean that’s what we should expect going forward. That being said, she’s outliers are where I expect regression sets in closer to the hitter’s actual skillset. There are a number of factors that may not be covered in the xBABIP equation that I’ll touch on in the player blurbs below including

  • Sprint Speed
  • Shift and pull rates
  • Park Factors





The table below includes a list of the largest underachievers in terms of BABIP aka the biggest gap between xBABIP minus BABIP. The minimum qualifications are 150 at-bats. You’ll notice a bunch of slow-footed left-handed batters with high pull rates. I wrote a piece last offseason covering the hitters who have been shifted on over 50% of the time and in many cases these players underperformed their xBA. Many of them you’ll see on this list below which can explain at least a portion of the difference between xBABIP and BABIP. In the cases of Matt Carpenter, Kole Calhoun, Kyle Schwarber, Matt Olson, and Max Kepler, they all qualify as pull-happy lefties with average to below-average speed. These hitters regularly show up on underperforming outlier lists so I wouldn’t necessarily expect much of a BABIP rebound as some of the others on this list. 

First I’ll touch on some elite hitters who showed up on the underachievers list. While not outliers, it’s encouraging to know that their production is very likely something they can maintain over the course of a full season. Fernando Tatis Jr., Corey Seager, Luke Voit, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Mookie Betts all underperformed their xBABIP by at least 0.030. Acuna, Betts, and Tatis are all top-5 picks next year, nothing changes for them. For Seager and Voit, I’ll be ranking both inside the top-50. Seager has a chance to hit .330 with 30 homers if healhy and Voit is a legit threat to hit 45+ homers whle hitting .275+. A few others to note include Alex Bregman, Franscisco Lindor, and George Springer. All were very unlucky in 2020. Bregman and Lindor were first round picks in 2020 but will both fall into the second round. I think both will be great values in 2021. I’ll be all over Springer in 2021. He’ll be 31 next year and has kind of been labeled as a boring veteran. I could see his ADP settle around 50 overall with some sexier options jumping him. His metrics look great and his strikeout rate has settled in below 20%. I’d peg him for a .280 BA with 35 homers.




BABIP Underachievers - 2020

PlayerPAxBABIPBABIPxBABIP-BABIP
Gregory Polanco1740.3290.1930.136
Christian Yelich2470.3650.2590.106
Nick Castellanos2420.3600.2570.103
Gary Sanchez1780.2610.1590.102
Kole Calhoun2280.3070.2110.096
Anthony Rizzo2430.3070.2180.089
Shohei Ohtani1750.3140.2290.085
Max Muncy2480.2850.2030.082
Cody Bellinger2430.3250.2450.080
Carlos Santana2550.2910.2120.079
Kyle Schwarber2240.2960.2190.077
Bryan Reynolds2080.3070.2310.076
Miguel Cabrera2310.3580.2830.075
Matt Olson2450.3000.2270.073
Joey Votto2230.3060.2350.071
Bryce Harper2440.3480.2790.069
Eduardo Escobar2220.3120.2440.068
Anthony Santander1650.3140.2480.066
Justin Upton1660.2830.2190.064
Matt Carpenter1690.3130.2500.063
Max Kepler1960.2980.2360.062

Gregory Polanco (OF – PIT)

What the hell happened to Polanco this year? He was mostly healthy but hit a dreadful .153 with a career-high 37.4% strikeout rate. He’s been riddled with injuries over the last four years missing over 200 games since the start 2017. Most recently, he dealt with offseason shoulder surgery before the 2020 season. Typically, a hitter will show poor quality of contact upon return from a shoulder injury, but not Polanco. He ended up with a career-best barrel rate and a hard-hit rate. He even managed a strong 30% line drive rate and cut his previously ugly popup%. He sold out for power, there’s no doubt but he clearly deserved better. I don’t know what to make of GP for 2021 because he’ll still be just 29 years old. He’s a lefty who was a victim of the shift and the strikeout rate concerns are real. If he cuts it below 30%, he could be a hit .250 with 25-30 homers. If he can’t fix his contact issues, he’ll see the bench or worse as he’ll be in the last year of his deal (club options in 22-23).

Chrsitian Yelich (OF – MIL)

You’re probably not surprised to see Yelich on this list. He still absolutely crushed the ball finishing in the top two percent in HH% and exit velocity. Let’s take a look at his exit velocity histogram.

The majority of his batted balls were hit over 95 mph with the two largest groups being between 100-105 and 105-110. That’s where an elite hitter wants to be. His issues were solely related to the strikeout rate. He finished with a 30.8% strikeout rate which was more than 10% worse than a year ago. He became extremely patient, to a fault. That boosted his walk rate but really got him into deep counts elevating his K%. He also struggled early in the season with a zone contact% under 75% but bounced back in September with a Z-Con% around 85-86%. I have virtually zero concerns with Yelich going into 2021 even if his strikeout rate settles in around 25%. Pep this, if Yelich would have had neutral luck with his BABIP given his expected stats, he would have hit .265. That’s w/ the ugly K% which I think comes down quite a bit. Easy buyback here.

Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN)

I made no reservations about my love for Castellanos going into 2020 especially given the move to Cincinnati. He got a massive park boost for power which came to fruition hitting 14 bombs in 60 games. That’s a 38 homer pace across 162 games or 11 more than his previous career-high. What I failed to consider is the BABIP drop he may see with a less expansive home outfield. His 2020 BABIP fell over 70 points below his career average. xBABIP still believes he’s a beast pegging him for a .360 xBABIP. I’m a little skeptical about him holding that mark and an elevated K% looms. That being said, I had him right around 50 overall in 2020 and nothing’s changed. He should still hit .275 with 35 homers and 100 RBI in 2021. 

 Gary Sanchez (C – NYY)

What are we going to do about Gary Sanchez next year? He had by far the lowest BABIP of any qualified hitter in 2020 to go with an atrocious 36% strikeout rate. We’ve seen suppressed BABIPs before from Sanchez but not like this. His batted ball distribution was BETTER than in 2019 but he did pull the ball over 50% of the time and was crushed by the shift (.218 wOBA vs the shift). Only one other time in his career has he had a BABIP this low over a 60 game stretch. That being said, he crushes the ball on contact, better than any catcher, by far. Because of his poor speed and results against the shift, he’ll likely never have another BABIP over .250 so he’s probably outside of the top-three catchers for 2021. It’s going to difficult to stomach a batting average at .200 for a full season.


Shohei Ohtani (DH – LAA)

Here’s the first player on this list who may have a massive discount. It also depends on how he’s used, whether or not he pitches, etc. Then there’s still Albert Pujols lingering for one more season. I think Ohtani was hurt this year. Before 2020, his career BABIP was .352. There’s no way that I buy Ohtani as a .200 hitter. His exit velo was down but I think that’s a product of an injury. He’s too good of an athlete in his prime to fall off that quickly. He was also suppressed a little by the shift which I don’t expect to change. He still plays in a great park for home runs to centerfield where he excels. I’ll hold firm that Ohtani is a top-50 hitter if he receives everyday at-bats.

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)

I don’t need to say much about Bellinger. His strikeout gains carried over from 2019 but he may have sacrificed some hard contact. There was also some weird stuff going on at the start of the season about him changing his swing. It made no sense and hurt his production early without a full season to recover. He’s also still running, pacing for 16 SBs across a full season which is right in line with his previous two seasons. He’s been healthy, missing only six games between 2017 and 2018. Still just 25 years old, he’ll be a top-12 pick for me in 2021.

Bryan Reynalds (OF – PIT)

Reynolds is going to be a completely forgotten man next year in drafts. He’s boring, plays for an awful team, and completely fell on his face in 2020. However, this is a guy who has never hit below .312 at any level including his rookie season in 2019 where he hit .314. He saw a jump of 6% in strikeout rate without much merit. His plate approach, chase%, and contact rates remained nearly identical from a year ago. He even boosted his barrel rate but also added more weakly hit balls. Overall, it seems like very little has changed from a year ago. The weakly hit balls are reflected in his xBABIP which at .307 is still about 70 points below his career-numbers. I think there’s a little bit of pop here and wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back with a .290 average and 20 homers with a handful of steals. Looks a little like Jeff McNeil just a lot cheaper.

Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)

So xBABIP thinks Harper should have hit .300 in 2020. So, with that being said, the soon to be 28 year old Harper would have hit .300 with 35 homers and 22 steals across a full season. Not so fast though. He’s another victim of the shift. He hasn’t outperformed his xBA since his 2017 season when he was only shifted on 21% of the time. His shift rates have been over 50% since then and continue to climb. Either way, Harper cut his K% significantly in the shortened season and is still in his prime. I’ll lock him in for a .275 BA, 35 HR, and 15+ steals. 

Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B – ARI)

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I might be in on Escobar next year. He was a complete fade for me coming into 2020. He went from being one of the luckiest hitter in terms of power in 2019 to one of the most unfortunate in 2020. Not only did he hit just four homers on nine barrels but his BABIP plummeted. I don’t think he will finish around .312 but something around a BABIP of .280 seems legit. He should once again hit in the middle of the DBacks lineup and provide solid run production. I think he’ll hit .260 with 20+ homers but will be drafted after pick 200.





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Starting Pitcher Rankings 31 – 152 (FreezeStats Fantasy Baseball)

Last week I released my top 30 starting pitchers for 2020. I wrote a quick blurb for each starter explaining why they were ranked where I had them. You can see that post here. I dropped Mike Clevinger to 15 overall after the news of his offseason knew surgery came through. He’s probably going to miss the first month of the season, so his ceiling is probably 165 innings. I was very high on him coming into 2020 (early rank was seven overall) but I think he can still provide some value. Last season, he threw only 126 innings and finished as the 18th ranked starting pitcher per the Razzball Player Rater. It’s reasonable to project him for around 150 innings which slots him right around the 15th SP in my opinion. Let’s dive into the rest of my starting pitcher rankings for 2020.



2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 31-50

SP RankPlayerTeam
31Frankie MontasAthletics
32Zac GallenDiamondbacks
33Madison BumgarnerDiamondbacks
34Zack WheelerPhillies
35Max FriedBraves
36Mike SorokaBraves
37David PriceDodgers
38Kenta MaedaTwins
39Kyle HendricksCubs
40Hyun-Jin RyuBlue Jays
41German MarquezRockies
42Matthew BoydTigers
43Eduardo RodriguezRed Sox
44Dinelson LametPadres
45Julio UriasDodgers
46Joe MusgrovePirates
47Robbie RayDiamondbacks
48Andrew HeaneyAngels
49Mike MinorRangers
50Shohei Ohtani (SP only)Angels

Mike Soroka is known for his power sinker. It generated a ton of ground balls and weak contact. That’s great but his strikeout rate was 7.4 per nine innings. That’s not quite what you’re looking for in a top-40 arm. Remember when I was discussing Clevinger in the introduction? Well, he had a 12.1 K/9 and 27 more strikeouts than Soroka in 50 fewer innings. This isn’t about Clevinger but you can see how valuable strikeouts are.  Soroka does utilize a slider and an elite changeup that can be used as a second putaway pitch to improve his K%. With three plus-pitches, he could take the next step and become a top-25 SP. Zac Gallen and Max Fried are my top targets in this range. Of course, they have a ton of helium going into draft season, so I’ll have to pay up for them.

German Marquez is doomed thanks to Coors Field but his skills looked as sharp as ever in 2019. Maybe he was a tad lucky in 2018 but I believe he was unlucky last year. Can he tame Coors Field? That’s a tall task but I believe he should be even better on the road in 2020 than he was last year. If can post a low-3s ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and 10 K/9 on the road, he should provide enough value to warrant this rank. Shohei Ohtani likely won’t pitch in a Major League game until May. If he throws every six games, that’s 20-22 starts. Averaging six innings per start is asking a lot but that would be his ceiling in terms of innings pitched. So, I’m projecting him for 120 innings which caps his value.  I think they will be very good innings but not quite Clevinger-esque. That’s why he slots in at 50.

Here’s what I said about Musgrove this week at FantasyPros: “Musgrove added about 0.5 MPH on his fastball last year, but the big adjustment was his increased usage of his changeup. The changeup became an elite offering for him, as he got hitters to chase the pitch outside the zone over 50% of the time! In addition to getting batters to chase, Musgrove can also throw the pitch for strikes and generate below-average contact on pitches inside the zone. He pairs the elite changeup with his established slider. Between the two-plus pitches for Musgrove, he should be able to bump his strikeout rate to the 23-24% range. Given his 68% first-pitch strike rate, I anticipate another walk rate well-below league average, keeping his WHIP below 1.20. For 2019, I project Musgrove for 11 wins, 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts in 163 innings.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 51-70

SP RankPlayerTeam
51Griffin CanningAngels
52Jesus LuzardoAthletics
53Lance McCullers Jr.Astros
54Jake OdorizziTwins
55Luke WeaverDiamondbacks
56Masahiro TanakaYankees
57Mitch KellerPirates
58Jose UrquidyAstros
59Dylan BundyAngels
60Mike FoltynewiczBraves
61Michael KopechWhite Sox
62A.J. PukAthletics
63Carlos MartinezCardinals
64Marcus StromanMets
65Jon GrayRockies
66Caleb SmithMarlins
67Dallas KeuchelWhite Sox
68Kyle GibsonRangers
69Chris ArcherPirates
70Anthony DeSclafaniReds



Griffin Canning has a rocking slider with a 21.7% SwStr rate in 2019. His curve and change are decent as well but he served up eight homers off his fastball. I think he’s going to strikeout over 25% of the batters he faces but could run into some issues with home runs and walks. He’s likely going to be a bit of a headache but has the ability to jump a tier. Can Masahiro Tanaka get his feel back on his splitter? That’s going to be the key to his success. If he can, we are looking at a top-35 starter but I am not as confident. I expect more inconsistent outings from Tanaka in 2020. Forget Mitch Keller‘s 7.45 ERA in 48 innings last year, his stuff was ridiculous. Alex Chamberlain’s Pitch Leaderboard had him pegged for about a 30% K rate and a 23% K-BB%. That’s entering the elite territory. He has everything I’m looking for is a breakout. He averages 95-96 mph on his fastball, has an elite putaway pitch, and a curveball that induced a ton of ground balls and weak contact.

Getting out of Baltimore and AL East is the best move for Dylan Bundy. He leaves one of the worst parks for home runs to a more neutral park in LAA. He also will avoid the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays multiple times per year. He brings a very good slider and changeup to the table, so he has a chance at a sub-4.00 ERA with a strikeout per inning. I’ll take a chance on that after pick 225. Kyle Gibsons slider has a 27.1% SwStr%! Oh, and his changeup has a 20.3% SwStr% with a 60% ground ball rate. Those two pitches alone should make him more valuable but he struggles to find the zone. That and both of his fastballs are just trash. He’s going to be a bumpy ride but could find his way to some very elite outings.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 71-100

SP RankPlayerTeam
71Sean ManaeaAthletics
72Pablo LopezMarlins
73Brendan McKayRays
74Sandy AlcantaraMarlins
75Steven MatzMets
76Garrett RichardsPadres
77Adrian HouserBrewers
78James PaxtonYankees
79Yonny ChirinosRays
80Miles MikolasCardinals
81Josh JamesAstros
82Aaron CivaleIndians
83Joey LucchesiPadres
84Merrill KellyDiamondbacks
85Kevin GausmanGiants
86Tyler BeedeGiants
87Spencer TurnbullTigers
88Dustin MayDodgers
89MacKenzie GorePadres
90Josh LindblomBrewers
91Jose QuintanaCubs
92Wade MileyCIN
93Dylan CeaseWhite Sox
94Cole HamelsBraves
95Chris BassittAthletics
96Jon LesterCubs
97Ryan YarbroughRays
98Johnny CuetoGiants
99Michael PinedaTwins
100Jeff SamardzijaGiants

Sandy Alcantara is getting a lot of love as a sleeper for 2020, but I just don’t get it. He was much better over the last two months of 2019 when he threw his sinker more often. His sinker is his best pitch but it’s not going to get a ton of strikeouts. His changeup is decent but his slider and fourseamer are bad. He’s kind of like a hard-throwing Marcus Stroman without the elite ground ball rate. Jame Paxton! UGGGHHHHHH! The injury/surgery basically puts him into the DO NOT DRAFT LIST. The timetable for his return has him coming back in May or early-June but I’d bet on late-June. I usually add a few weeks for rehab, he could basically be valuable for only three months of the season. That’s too much risk to take on. Now, Luis Severino is having forearm soreness. The Yankees need to already do some damage control with their rotation and we haven’t hit March yet. He will drop in my rankings but I can’t say how much just yet.


Josh James has electric stuff with questionable command and will be competing for the fifth starter spot in Houston. He was a popular sleeper heading into 2019 and it did not pan out. I need to see a little more out of his third pitch, his changeup, to see if he can make it as a starter. But, his fastball is legit and he flashed it with a 14.1% SwStr rate on it in 2019. Unfortunately, the numbers from the bullpen won’t translate linearly if he becomes a starter but I’m drafting skills not roles after SP75 overall.

You all know I love Tyler Beede. I talked about him on Benched with Bubba and wrote about his curveball in my underutilized pitches piece at Pitcher List. He actually has three pitches that generated a SwStr% over 15% and averages almost 95 mph on his fastball. He has the stuff to vault into the top-50 but he needs to reduce his fastball usage and throw his secondaries more often. I think Dustin May is a great breakout candidate but once again the Dodgers have 7-8 options to start games, so guessing how many innings May will get is a fool’s errand. Because of that, I can’t take the plunge on May in 12-team formats unless some favorable news coming out of Dodgers camp but in a 15-team format, he’s a great late-round flier.

Dylan Cease must work on his fastball command to become successful. He only threw it in the zone 43% of the time in 2019. That’s not good. It was also crushed when batters swung at it in the zone with a 189 wRC+ against it in 2019. That means he was missing his spots. Additionally, walks around going to be an issue, especially early on. His slider is good and the changeup has some potential, so he’s a late-round dart in 15-team formats.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 101-152

SP RankPlayerTeam
101J.A. HappYankees
102Jordan LylesRangers
103Ross StriplingDodgers
104John MeansOrioles
105Jakob JunisRoyals
106Jake ArrietaPhillies
107Alex WoodDodgers
108Tyler MahleReds
109Austin VothNationals
110Dakota HudsonCardinals
111Zach EflinPhillies
112Kyle WrightBraves
113Cal QuantrillPadres
114Luis PatinoPadres
115Domingo GermanYankees
116Forrest WhitleyAstros
117Patrick SandovalAngels
118Nathan EovaldiRed Sox
119Austin PruitAstros
120Justus SheffieldMariners
121Julio TeheranAngels
122Daniel NorrisTigers
123Trevor WilliamsPirates
124Drew SmylyGiants
125Matt ShoemakerBlue Jays
126Homer BaileyTwins
127Freddy PeraltaBrewers
128Nate PearsonBlue Jays
129Corbin BurnesBrewers
130Reynaldo LopezWhite Sox
131Nick PivettaPhillies
132Elieser HernandezMarlins
133Trent ThorntonBlue Jays
134Anibal SanchezNationals
135Tanner RoarkBlue Jays
136Chase AndersonBlue Jays
137Marco GonzalesMariners
138Mike LeakeDiamondbacks
139Mike FiersAthletics
140Sean NewcombBraves
141Brad KellerRoyals
142Martin PerezRed Sox
143Gio GonzalezWhite Sox
144Casey MizeTigers
145Eric LauerBrewers
146Rich HillTwins
147Chad KuhlPirates
148Vince VelasquezPhillies
149Zach DaviesPadres
150Michael FulmerTigers
151Asher WojciechowskiOrioles
152Logan WebbGiants


If Austin Voth earns the fifth rotation spot for the Nationals, I will bump him up at least 15 spots. Here’s what I said about Voth two months ago.

“At age-27, he’s not a highly rated prospect but showed impressive skills in 2019 with a 17.8% K-BB% and a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings. His fastball wasn’t bad, but it’s his secondaries that get me going. All three of his secondaries, CU, CT, CH generated swinging strike rates north of 16.5%. The curve is the best of the bunch with a 38.9% strikeout rate. We are dealing with limited samples but hell, it’s after pick 250 and there is a top-150 ceiling here.”

In addition to Voth, here are some of my favorite dart throws after SP-100. Ross Stripling, Tyler Mahle, Patrick Sandoval, Austin Pruitt, Drew Smyly, Corbin Burnes, and Chad Kuhl. Kuhl missed all of 2019 with Tommy John Surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch in a big-league game just yet. I’m skeptical but if he wins a starting spot out of spring training, I think he’ll be valuable once he gets his rhythm down.



Photo credit: Prospects Live

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MLB Directional Home Run Park Factors Using Statcast (Updated)

Last April, I developed home run park factors based using a combination of home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) and non-barreled home runs. The data I used was from Baseball Savant. I gathered the data from each season 2015 through 2018 at each ballpark. Essentially how it worked was any park that allowed higher than league-average HR/BRL rates and allowed more non-barreled home runs were more favorable and vice-versa for parks that scored below-average. This was relatively simplistic but it allowed me to determine that Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati was the most friendly park in MLB for home runs and that Fenway Park in Boston is indeed a poor park for home runs. Naturally, the next step was to breakdown each park directionally (left field, centerfield, right field).


I pulled data from the last three seasons to determine directional home run park factors. I choose a three-year sample for two reasons. First, some of the sample sizes seemed a little small using just a single season of data. Second, combining two juiced ball seasons with one “dead ball” season may be a good way to aggregate how the 2020 ball might respond if there is a slight adjustment to the ball. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess as to how or if the properties of the ball will change, but at minimum I’m accounting for the range of possibilities here. Before I get down into the final park factors, below are the directional HR/BRL% for both right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters.

Left Field Centerfield Right Field
Right-Handed Hitters 75.82% 42.3% 49.65%
Left-Handed Hitters 46.80% 43.2% 73.55%

Not surprisingly, pulling the ball yields a much high home run percentage compared to balls hit to center or balls hit to the opposite field. Based on this information, I separated right-handed and left-handed hitters when determining the directional park factors due to the large discrepancies in HR/BRL%. For example, I ran home run park factors to left field for pulled fly balls by right-handed hitters and opposite-field fly balls hit by left-handed hitters. Then, I created a formula to combine the two for a final left-field park factor. I did the same thing for right field park factors. Hopefully, this makes sense. Just to be clear, these park factors are for home runs only. OK, enough of the boring explanations, let’s get to the Home Run Park Factors.


Note: 1.0 is neutral, less than 1.0 is below-average, over 1.0 is above-average

Home Run Park Factors Using Statcast (FreezeStats)

Venue/ParkTeamLF PFCF PFRF PF
GABPCIN1.1071.1361.176
Oriole ParkBAL1.1131.1441.012
Miller ParkMIL0.9841.1451.108
Coors FieldCOL1.0081.1441.055
Guaranteed Rate FldCWS1.0511.0321.114
Dodger StadiumLAD1.0041.2150.976
Citi FieldNYM1.0641.0271.057
Minute Maid ParkHOU1.1020.8861.155
Citizens Bank ParkPHI1.0790.9651.084
Angel StadiumLAA0.9111.1971.010
Petco ParkSDP1.0771.0550.981
Globe Life ParkTEX0.9731.0481.087
Yankee StadiumNYY0.9480.9311.212
Nationals ParkWSH1.0201.1020.936
Progressive FieldCLE0.9561.0311.054
T-Mobile ParkSEA0.9881.0261.006
Rogers CentreTOR1.0121.0060.995
Oakland ColiseumOAK1.0251.0080.943
SunTrust ParkATL0.9650.9991.003
Chase FieldARI1.0730.8611.006
Tropicana FieldTBR1.0180.9270.985
Wrigley FieldCHC0.9921.0270.909
PNC ParkPIT0.8801.0220.962
Target FieldMIN0.9660.9250.954
Busch StadiumSTL0.9141.0250.887
Marlins ParkMIA0.9290.9170.961
Kauffman StadiumKCR0.9550.8560.874
Comerica ParkDET1.0070.6920.958
Fenway ParkBOS0.9120.8620.844
Oracle ParkSFG0.9400.8540.717

Some things that jumped out at me upon seeing the results is that both Los Angeles ballparks are extremely favorable to centerfield. Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium rank one and two, respectively for home runs to centerfield based on my HR Park Factors. Without diving in too deep, I noticed that Angel Stadium is perfect for Shohei Ohtani (the batter). Ohtani hits nearly 37% of his fly balls to centerfield and he absolutely crushes balls up the middle. It partially explains how he has maintained an insanely high 40.4% HR/FB on fly balls to center compared to league-average 10.5%. Another player who benefited from playing half his games in Angel Stadium over the last couple of seasons is Justin Upton (2019 injury notwithstanding). He’s hit a whopping 45.4% of his fly balls to centerfield since the start of 2018. There’s a reason that his HR/FB rate jumped once he was traded from Detroit to LA (23.4% w/ LAA compared to his career 16.6% HR/FB%).

On the flip side, centerfield at Comerica Park in Detroit is where fly balls go to die. That tweet was from back in April, so I had a feeling Detroit was awful to center but it’s worse than I thought compared to other parks. Consider this, since the start of 2017, no park has seen more barreled balls to centerfield than Comerica Park (404 barrels), but only 12.13% of those barreled balls turned into home runs (49 home runs). That is the fewest number of barreled home runs to centerfield since 2017 in all of baseball. That’s crazy! Just for fun, if Comerica played neutral to center, there would have been an ADDITIONAL 127 home runs hit over the last three seasons. If it played as favorable as Dodger Stadium has over that time frame, we would have seen a whopping 222 additional home runs to centerfield alone! It’s amazing Miguel Cabrera surpassed the 40-homer plateau multiple times while playing in Detroit despite hitting 35-40% of his fly balls to center. Nick Castellanos gets a huge boost wherever he lands in 2020 because he hit 41.5% of his fly balls to center in 2019.  


A few other interesting observations that jumped out at me is that Oakland Collusiem and Petco Park in San Diego actually play somewhat favorable for home runs. Both play above-average to centerfield and left field. So, let’s give Manny Machado another chance to bounce back in 2020 even though Petco is still a downgrade compared to Oriole Park. I’ll touch on Yankee Stadium’s right field but the park is below-average to center and left field. I’m beginning to understand why Aaron Judge hits so many balls to the opposite field. Citi Field, the other park in New York, ranks as the seventh most favorable park for home runs by my park factors. If you recall, they moved the fences in before the 2015 season, so that modification has done wonders for their hitters. It also makes what Jacob deGrom’s done over the last two seasons extremely impressive.

Oriole Park, Great American Ballpark (GABP), and Minute Maid Park are the top three parks for home runs to left field. I’m not surprised, because GABP is favorable to all fields and Minute Maid has the short porch in left thanks to the Crawford Boxes (84.14% HR/BRL for pulled FB to left). Although Minute Maid is even better for left-handed pull power but below-average to center. Oriole Park has proven to be more favorable for right-handed pull power and straight-away center but plays neutral to right field. We should shift our analysis for left-handed pull hitters and right-handed hitters who favor the opposite field in Baltimore as they may not see a boost in power numbers. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is the worst for home runs to left field but is OK to center and right. More on this in a future article.

Oracle Park is a nightmare for power hitters who favor right field. That’s a well-known fact of course. However, the fences are indeed coming in as the bullpen is now moving behind the right field wall! It’s hard to say how much this will improve the home run park factors in Oracle because the entire park plays unfavorable. Either way, I’m intrigued by Brandon belt (if he stays in SF), Mike Yastrzemski , and Alex Dickerson. In fact, one of my bold predictions involves Alex Dickerson surpassing 20 home runs in 2020. The number-one venue to right field is Yankee Stadium. Along with the juiced ball, it helped boost Didi Gregorius’ power numbers and resurrect Brett Gardner’s power. Great American Smallpark comes in at number two and how about Minute Maid Park ranking third to right field. It’s actually MORE favorable than left field with the Crawford Boxes! 

I had to dig a little deeper to find out why Minute Maid was so favorable to right field. It ranked second in HR/BRL% to right field and allowed the fourth-most non-barreled home runs. Minute Maid is only 326 feet down the right field line which is 11 feet deeper than the short porch in left field, however, the height of the wall is only seven feet high in right field as opposed to the 19 and 25-foot walls in left and left-center. In the power alley (right-center), the fence is 373 feet from home plate and 10-feet in height. Again, this is 11 feet further than left-center but with a much shorter wall. In other words, batted balls with a lower trajectory have a higher probability to be a home run to right field than to left field in Houston. Meanwhile, non-barreled fly balls with high launch angles to left field have left Minute Maid 113 times in three seasons, most in MLB.


My next article will look at hitters and some pitchers who are changing parks and how we should evaluate each player based on the park change. Obviously, we need to see more signings before that happens. To reiterate, these park factors do not consider singles, doubles, or triples, so they are not complete park factors. They are strictly measuring how favorable/unfavorable each park is for home runs to each part of the field using Statcast metrics (barrels and on-barrels). ESPN and FanGraphs along with several other sites have overall park factors, but we care about the long ball!

This metric can be extremely helpful for the evaluation of certain players who have extreme pull or oppo tendencies on their batted balls. Heavy pull hitters or hitters with a higher percentage of opposite-field fly balls can be analyzed and projected more accurately. I could also see where this metric could provide value for DFS purposes. For example, imagine righty-masher Joc Pederson in Yankee Stadium against a right-handed pitcher. That’s easy money right there. I’m open to any questions or ideas you may have as well. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats.


 Photo courtesy of southerncal88