Touching Bases April 27, 2009
Parks and Conversation

These notes don't fit into the post that I will hopefully have up tomorrow, but I thought I'd include this graphic of average ballpark dimensions from 2006-2008 here. I converted the dimensions found on Hit Tracker from pixels into feet, and here are the results by quartiles.

Also, last week I linked to a couple excellent studies on park factors by Greg Rybarczyk and David Gassko, but I forgot to to link to Jeff's excellent post on park factors, which I will be referencing as well in the future. Fortunately, his study used the same years of data as I did. It contains several useful pieces of information that I have not seen used in many other places, such as foul area, and average wall height, which is a key part of information missing from the above visual, but which can also be found at ballparks.com

Lastly, I'm interested in hearing thoughts on whether it would be more informative to list numbers other than just averages for home run characteristics. For example, the bottom 10% of home runs in a certain park might tell us how easy it is to hit short home runs, while showing perhaps the top 25% could tell us how well the ball carries in a park. Or for certain players, the top quartile will give an indication of a player's raw power, while the bottom half may tell us more about how he used his park to his advantage.

Jeremy - Thanks for the complements. The 1 item that really needs to be looked at is how the wind direction effects flyball distance. After I wrote the article, I got several emails from people that wanted to remain anonymous that said Texas's and Philly's stadiums funneled the air, no matter what direction it blew from, so it ended up blowing to out field (which might also be happening at KC because of new additions). I am sure someone smarter than me could figure each stadium out and I think this would help explain some of the "mysteries" of the parks. -Jeff

Jeff,

Wind is definitely something I'll be looking at when I analyze different players. I imagine people who hit the ball higher, an assessment that I will determine by the apex values on their home runs, will have greater success in stadiums where the wind blows out.

But are you saying that its possible the wind readings on Retrosheet and Hit Tracker aren't accurate, since the flag readings differ from the actual wind effects on the field? That would really mess things up.

Jeremy, you are correct. Here are the comments I got:

Being a Ranger fan I must state that wind plays a big role in games played in Arlington. The team actually commissioned a study to determine what effects that putting in the stadium club has had. The stadium club is a 2nd level restaurant/bar that has blocked incoming winds from the outfield. Most people now believe that the winds now circulate back around towards the outfield. A jet stream effect. Equals more runs scored naturally.

“Factoring in the wind might be worth looking into. I work in Philly and I know from being there 70+ games a season that the wind plays tricks with the ball in that park. I’m convinced the reason it does it is because the open concourse on the lower lever creates some kind of jet stream effect, especially along the foul lines out toward the opposite field (1B line/LF, 3B line/RF). I think it would also explain the problems that visiting CFs seem to have with fielding fly balls to the little triangle in deep left center. The wind seems to swirl around in that one little area all the time.”

Interesting. Greg Rybarczyk said on Baseball Tonight that the Yankees had guys study possibly wind effects but they might have been mistaken too. The new Yankee Stadium also has a 2nd level restaurant/bar. That little tidbit about deep left center is something right up Dave Allen's alley with his awesome ballpark heat chart visualizations.

By the way, the SQL file for 07-08 pitch f/x just made my day. Thanks for all the great stuff.

Thanks again -- I plan on adding the 2009 data at some points during the season, but right now I am working on some other projects I just want to get done.