Goto Hitter's Parks,
Rob Neyer's July 21, 1997
he observes that both the Rockies and Burt Shotton's Phillies had extreme
Home/Road splits while playing in extreme hitters parks and asks
"Can it be coincidental that they happen to play in perhaps the best hitter's parks ever?"
Rob also had followup columns discussing letters from Guy Tyler on
August 8 and from Chris Aberson and
John Rickert(me) on August 15. A further followup from Tim Ruane was printed August 19.
Here's a start at looking at the question.
I then used the Baseball Encyclopedia to find the records at home and on the road for each team and compiled the results. A summary is in the table below:
|Red Sox||1989-94||462-463||.499||258-211 .550||204-252 .447||.103|
|Braves||1983-92||749-865||.464||396-409 .492||353-456 .436||.056|
|Cubs||1983-91||714-737||.492||389-338 .535||325-399 .449||.086|
|Red Sox||1964-84||1761-1574||.528||953-715 .571||808-859 .485||.086|
|Cubs||1976-80||379-431||.468||214-192 .527||165-239 .408||.119|
|Cubs||1967-73||592-533||.526||322-241 .572||270-292 .480||.092|
|Reds||1963-69||602-530||.532||327-238 .579||275-292 .485||.094|
|Cardinals||1959-65||587-522||.529||328-227 .591||259-295 .468||.123|
|Dodgers||1956-61||507-419||.548||267-196 .577||240-223 .518||.059|
|Red Sox||1946-59||1193-963||.553||683-396 .633||510-567 .474||.159|
|Tigers||1938-46||749-636||.541||412-285 .591||337-351 .490||.101|
|Cardinals||1938-42||450-314||.589||241-145 .624||209-169 .553||.071|
|Phillies||1929-37||562-814||.408||320-359 .471||242-455 .347||.124|
|Phillies||1918-26||503-826||.378||266-391 .405||237-435 .353||.052|
|Browns||1921-26||466-453||.507||263-200 .568||203-253 .445||.123|
|Highlanders||1903-07||395-338||.539||213-153 .582||182-185 .496||.086|
|TOTAL||10,671-10,418||.506||5852-4696 .555||4819-5722 .457||.098|
The overall road Pct. for the teams was .457, very close to a normal
road percentage. If we decide that this means that the teams were
overall average teams, then their home winning percentage should be .541.
Instead, it was .555. If we assume that the teams were average teams,
then the probability of deviating that far from the expected number of
wins at home is approximately 0.9%, indicating that there probably
is a small advantage for teams playing in extreme hitters parks.
Of course, an alternative explanation is that the teams were really slightly better than average, as was indicated by their overall .506 W-L pct. If this assumption is used then the teams would come out better at home (but only at the 17% confidence level) and worse on the road (also at a 17% level), however the results are not statistically significant.
The likelihood of average teams deviating as far from .500 as .506(or farther) is roughly 25%. again, not an unreasonable occurance.
There were also eight teams that played in offensive parks for four consecutive years, or four out of five years. They produced the following results:
|Rockies||1993-96||280-305||.479||163-128 .560||117-177 .398||.162|
|Braves||1976-79||266-380||.412||147-175 .457||119-205 .367||.090|
|Braves||1970-73||304-335||.476||161-159 .503||143-176 .448||.055|
|Reds||1955-58||322-294||.523||182-126 .591||140-168 .455||.136|
|Browns||1932-35||250-359||.411||130-171 .432||120-188 .390||.042|
|Red Sox||1934-38||396-364||.521||226-153 .596||170-211 .446||.150|
|Indians||1916-19||322-252||.561||169-114 .597||153-138 .526||.071|
|Reds||1902-05||311-274||.532||175-125 .583||136-149 .477||.106|
|TOTAL||2451-2563||.489||1353-1151 .540||1098-1412 .437||.103|
The won-lost records for these teams (data from Pete Palmer) were
|129||160-146||.523||99-54 .647||61-92 .399||.248|
|116||120-159||.430||64-74 .464||56-85 .397||.067|
|115||83-79||.512||44-37 .543||39-42 .481||.062|
|113||208-255||.449||116-108 .518||92-147 .385||.133|
|112||737-823||.472||403-376 .517||334-447 .428||.090|
|111||843-876||.490||486-385 .558||357-491 .421||.137|
|110||927-895||.509||511-399 .562||416-496 .456||.105|
|TOTAL||3078-3233||.488||1723-1433 .546||1355-1800 .429||.116|
The Rockies are clearly an outlier on this chart, but the trend is not entirely clear. The teams in the next best hitters parks, The Rockies in Mile High and the Cubs in Wrigley, had below average differences.
When we get to the BPFs with several teams, the numbers seem to be staying around a slightly larger than normal difference.
*I received a note from DaveB saying:
Recently I watched "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" and in the film, he talked about how in 1940 the main reason for the Tigers success (they won the Pennant) was the fact that they were stealing signs. They only did this at home as they had a guy in the upper deck bleachers of Briggs Stadium with binoculars giving them signals. Greenberg said that he and Rudy York were getting fat HR numbers during this time. I'm not sure for how many years this went on, but it is very interesting that one of the largest park factors in the history of baseball occurred at Briggs stadium from 1940-1941. I'm quite certain that the sign-stealing was the main contributor to the high home Batter Park Factor of that Tiger era.
|A's||1991-95||366-378||.492||198-173 .534||168-205 .450||.084|
|A's||1978-87||723-844||.461||402-380 .514||321-464 .409||.105|
|Astros||1975-84||784-784||.500||449-333 .574||335-451 .426||.148|
|Padres||1971-82||799-1082||.425||438-506 .464||361-576 .385||.079|
|Angels||1971-76||446-518||.463||231-257 .476||215-264 .449||.027|
|Dodgers||1962-71||883-739||.544||465-347 .573||418-392 .516||.057|
|Astros||1962-66||333-475||.412||198-206 .491||135-269 .334||.157|
|Braves||1949-61||1100-903||.549||581-418 .582||519-485 .517||.065|
|Orioles||1954-58||330-437||.430||191-192 .499||139-245 .357||.142|
|Braves||1933-40||554-665||.454||305-297 .507||249-368 .404||.103|
|Yankees||1931-35||475-285||.625||258-120 .683||217-165 .568||.115|
|Senators||1906-10||279-477||.369||168-203 .453||111-274 .288||.165|
|TOTAL||7072-7587||.482||3884-3429 .531||3188-4158 .434||.097|
After all, what is "uniqueness"? Are the Metrodome, Kaufmann Stadium, Forbes Field and the Polo Grounds unique if their effect on runs scored is close to zero? If so, which is `uniquer', a "neutral" Polo Grounds, a hitter's Coors Field or a pitcher's Astrodome?
Further study is needed to answer the question, but there might be an effect. If it exists it's small - worth maybe one win a year. Not much, though the 1978 Red Sox and the 1967 Red Sox, might disagree
Further things to look at