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Ballpark Review: Analyzing the 30 Ballparks

Sam Brylski

Sam Brylski

Sam Brylski writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Here's a look at the 30 major league parks and their respective impact on hitters and pitchers.

Included for each club are the park indices (PI) for left- and right-handed batters, both for average and home run hitting. We then consider how those numbers should affect the hitters and pitchers who call that stadium home. The reader will notice a considerable emphasis on newly acquired and younger players, the logic being that players who've played in a stadium for some time (Paul Konerko in U.S. Cellular Field, Andre Ethier in Dodger Stadium) will be subject to little change over previous seasons.

Note that a stadium with a Park Index (PI) of exactly 100 is neutral and can be said to have had no affect on that particular stat. An index above 100 means the ballpark favors that statistic. For example, if a park has a left-handed HR index of 120 (Chicago's Wrigley Field), it was 15 percent easier to hit home runs in that park than the rest of the parks in that league. Conversely, an index less than 100 means the park suppresses the stat in question.

All Park Indices are from The Bill James Handbook 2011 and span data from 2008 to 2010 (except Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium, which feature 2009 to 2010 figures, and Target Field, which features only 2010 figures). Parks are ordered from highest to lowest total park index (which also takes into account factors like walks, strikeouts, errors, etc).

EXTREME HITTER'S PARKS (PI 111+)

Colorado
Coors Field - 124
LHB Avg 112/LHB HR 128/RHB Avg 112/RHB HR 121

Batters:
It is no secret that Coors Field routinely tops the league in its tendency to bolster offensive output. By far the highest altitude ballpark in the majors, the ball absolutely flies through the thin mountain air. The Rockies' newcomers, backup infielders Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez, will benefit, but aren't expected to get a full season's worth of at-bats. Lopez in particularly will love his new home after spending his entire seven-year career in Seattle, one of the worst hitter's parks in the league. The Rockies also have a number of hitters with speed to take advantage of the park's triples index of 157, such as outfielders Dexter Fowler (14 triples in 2010) and Carlos Gonzalez (9).

Pitchers: Just ask Jeff Francis, who bolted to Kansas City this offseason, how tough it is to pitch half your games in Colorado. Defying all logic, Ubaldo Jimenez has managed the lowest home-run rate in the league the last three seasons, so expect more of the same from him.

Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field - 113
LHB Avg 105/LHB HR 120/RHB Avg 105/RHB HR 105

Batters:
After losing Derrek Lee to the Orioles in free agency, the Cubs purchased Carlos Pena to play first base. Pena's batting average will likely remain an eyesore, but he has good chance to flirt with 40 home runs after hitting just 28 in 2010. His former home park with the Rays, Tropicana Field, was well below average for left-handed home runs (92 PI), while Wrigley is one of the league's best.

Pitchers: Also moving from Tampa Bay to Chicago is starter Matt Garza, who is surely not as happy about his new home field. Garza is a flyball pitcher who may be in for some rough mid-summer afternoons when the wind in the Windy City is blowing out.

Arizona
Chase Field - 112
LHB Avg 106/LHB HR 102/RHB Avg 106/RHB HR 106

Batters:
The Diamondbacks likely will have just one new offensive starter with Juan Miranda taking over first base. Most hitters would benefit greatly from a move to the desert, but Miranda is coming from the Yankees, who have the best home-run park for left-handed hitters in the league. Therefore, the biggest benefit for Miranda will be the increase in playing time.

Pitchers:
The top arms in the Diamondbacks rotation will remain the same, but two of the three pitchers competing this spring for the final starting spots are newcomers Zach Duke from Pittsburgh and Armando Galarraga from Detroit. Both were cast off from teams with better pitcher's parks, but Duke should better weather the transition due to his higher groundball rate.

Chicago White Sox
U.S. Cellular Field - 111
LHB Avg 99/LHB HR 117/RHB Avg 98/RHB HR 145

Batters:
Paul Konerko re-signed with the White Sox to continue to enjoy a great home-run hitting park, one even better than that of his cross-town rival. Fellow slugger Adam Dunn joins him in the middle of the lineup this year. Dunn has hit 38 to 40 homers in each of the last six seasons, but has a great opportunity to break through his "ceiling" by moving into a better park for left-handed power.

Pitchers:
The White Sox return their full slate of starters from 2010, and add two relievers in Jesse Crain and lefty Will Ohman. Crain might get some closing opportunities this season, but Ohman is better equipped for the transition into his new hitter-friendly ballpark, holding left-handed hitters to a .208 batting average during his career.

Texas
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington - 111
LHB Avg 103/LHB HR 124/RHB Avg 107/RHB HR 114

Batters:
Adrian Beltre will call an above-average home-run park "home" for the first time in his career after signing a six-year deal with the Rangers. Beltre was criticized heavily for his power outage when he moved to Seattle in 2005, but the Mariners reside in one of the worst home-run parks for right-handed hitters. For that reason, there should not be much concern over the possibility of Beltre seeing a drop in home-run production after another contract year. However, his 49 doubles in Boston last season should not be expected to repeat, as Fenway Park is conducive to doubles like no other (140 PI).

Pitchers:
The Rangers' two main pitching additions may not see the mound as starters this season, as Brandon Webb is working to complete a two-year comeback from multiple shoulder problems, and Dave Bush was only signed to a minor league deal. Webb has upside, even in this ballpark, due to his extreme groundball tendencies and history of dominance. Bush, however, has always struggled with home runs, and that probably won't change if given the ball in Texas.

HITTER'S PARKS (PI 105-110)

Boston
Fenway Park - 108
LHB Avg 105/LHB HR 88/RHB Avg 103/RHB HR 93

Batters:
Despite the hitter's park label, Fenway uniquely suppresses home runs. Instead, doubles are hit at an unprecedented rate off the 37-foot Green Monster in left field. The Red Sox traded for San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, who should expect increased power numbers across the board, but most improvement should come in the doubles category.

Pitchers:
The Red Sox added some relief arms in winter, but nobody will surpass Jonathan Papelbon for closing duties.

Baltimore
Camden Yards - 106
LHB Avg 102/LHB HR 126/RHB Avg 108/RHB HR 121

Batters:
Regardless of what side of the plate a hitter steps in, he can expect at least a 20 percent increase in home runs when in Baltimore. Third baseman Mark Reynolds, acquired from Arizona, is making a rather lateral move in terms of environment, but new starting shortstop J.J. Hardy may be able to take advantage. Hardy was acquired cheaply but has shown good power potential in the past, hitting 50 home runs between 2007 and 2008 with the Brewers.

Pitchers:
The Orioles have long struggled to put together an above-average staff, and their ballpark is one reason why. They signed health risk Justin Duchscherer this offseason, but Baltimore is drastically worse for pitchers than his previous home in Oakland (95 PI).

New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium - 106
LHB Avg 103/LHB HR 141/RHB Avg 100/RHB HR 124

Batters:
Two years into their new ballpark, it is clear that the Bronx Bombers find it easy to hit long balls at home. However, their biggest offseason addition on offense, catcher Russell Martin, is not much of a power hitter, with just 25 home runs the last three years.

Pitchers:
While the Yankees failed to bring in another top starting pitcher, they instead signed possibly the best relief arm on the market, Rafael Soriano. Soriano has always been great at suppressing home runs, but it will be a bigger challenge in New York than at his former home stadiums.

NEUTRAL PARKS (PI 96-104)

Detroit
Comerica Park - 103
LHB Avg 98/LHB HR 98/RHB Avg 105/RHB HR 106

Batters:
Victor Martinez, like everyone, enjoyed knocking extra base hits off the Green Monster in Boston last year, but he won't have the same advantage in Detroit. In all other areas, the two parks are quite similar. His ability to switch hit will not affect his park advantage in his new home, as Comerica plays equally for both left- and right-handed hitters.

Pitchers:
To fill their rotation, the Tigers signed Brad Penny, who usually doesn't care where he pitches due to his above-average groundball rate. He has pitched mostly in pitcher's parks during his career, but Comerica Park might be neutral enough that it won't make much of a difference.

Florida
Sun Life Stadium - 103
LHB Avg 101/LHB HR 91/RHB Avg 98/RHB HR 92

Batters:
This will be Florida's final season in this ballpark in 2012, the team will move into a new stadium and be renamed the Miami Marlins. Although it's too early to say for certain, the deep power alleys (420 feet in LCF, 392 feet in RCF) in the new stadium indicate youngster Michael Stanton should enjoy this neutral environment while he still has it.

Pitchers:
Javier Vazquez joins the Marlins this season and will throw in a much more favorable home park. He surrendered a whooping 2.44 home runs per nine innings at hitter-friendly Yankees Stadium last season, which should come way down in Florida.

Cincinnati
Great American Ball Park - 102
LHB Avg 100/LHB HR 111/RHB Avg 102/RHB HR 125

Batters:
The Reds told Paul Janish that shortstop is his position to lose, so the opportunity for new acquisition Edgar Renteria to take advantage of his small new home might be limited. Their other addition, reserve outfielder Fred Lewis, relies on speed to produce offense and might actually be hurt by the shorter fences in Cincinnati when trying to leg out triples.

Pitchers:
All eyes will be on flame-throwing Ardolis Chapman in 2011, who will begin the season in a setup role. His strong groundball rate should negate some of the ballpark's home-run tendencies if any hitter can even get around on his fastball, which touched 105 mph last season.

Philadelphia
Citizens Bank Park - 102
LHB Avg 103/LHB HR 103/RHB Avg 99/RHB HR 105

Batters:
Citizens Bank Park has a reputation as a bandbox, but it actually plays neutral and shares similar overall indices with Comerica Park in Detroit. Ryan Howard is just so good that he makes it look easy to hit in Philadelphia.

Pitchers:
The move to bring back Cliff Lee gives the Phillies one of the best rotations in recent memory. Lee will benefit from leaving Texas, and we have seen already what Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt can do in Philadelphia.

Kansas City
Kauffman Stadium - 101
LHB Avg 107/LHB HR 72/RHB Avg 103/RHB HR 87

Batters:
Despite limiting home runs, Kauffman plays neutral by allowing 36 percent more triples than the average park and concedes the best left-handed batting average in the American League. The Royals brought in a couple of speedsters (Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain) through the Zack Greinke trade who can take advantage and run for extra-base hits.

Pitchers:
Jeff Francis is really going to notice a difference between his old habitat in Colorado (home run index of 124) and new home in Kansas City (81). Being one who struggled with homers at times, that difference of 43 percentage points is huge. The drawback to his change in scenery will be dealing with designated hitters.

San Francisco
AT&T Park - 101
LHB Avg 101/LHB HR 85/RHB Avg 101/RHB HR 102

Batters:
Like Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, AT&T Park suppresses home runs but maintains neutrality by giving up many doubles and triples. This effect is particularly noticeable for left-handed hitters, who have to deal with a right-field fence that rapidly recedes from home plate, peaking at a distance of 421 feet in right-center.

Pitchers:
Giants pitchers do just fine in their ballpark, as evidenced by their league-leading staff ERA in 2010. They return every starter from last year and should challenge for the top team ERA again.

Washington
Nationals Park - 100
LHB Avg 102/LHB HR 94/RHB Avg 97/RHB HR 97

Batters:
The Nationals spent a lot of money this offseason on Jayson Werth ($126 million, to be exact), who will see a slight downgrade in environment for his bat next seven years. This ballpark might be the league's blandest stadium across the board, with doubles and triples coming within two percent of league average.

Pitchers:
The team remains hopeful that Steven Strasburg, whose elbow rehab is going well, will pitch at some point in 2011. The "once-in-a-generation" pitching prospect will be neither hurt nor helped by his home park.

Atlanta
Turner Field - 99
LHB Avg 96/LHB HR 95/RHB Avg 102/RHB HR 96

Batters:
The only stat in which Turner Field aids hitters is batting average for right-handed hitters, and the Braves just acquired a pretty good right-handed hitter this offseason. Dan Uggla, a perennial 30-home-run second baseman, is held back only by his weak batting average every other season. His former Florida home suppressed his batting average slightly, but neither park is extreme enough to call the move a big upgrade.

Pitchers:
Young starter Tommy Hanson has settled in quite nicely at Turner Field, with a 3.31 home ERA in his first two seasons. New closer Craig Kimbrel, even younger than Hanson, will look to follow his example. On the rare occasion the opponent puts the ball in play against him (Kimbrel had 40 strikeouts in 20.2 major league innings last season), his home park won't be disadvantageous.

Pittsburgh
PNC Park - 98
LHB Avg 102/LHB HR 101/RHB Avg 100/RHB HR 80

Batters:
The only thing of note with PNC Park is its propensity to repress home runs from right-handed batters. If he makes the team, that park characteristic would impact Garrett Atkins, who made his name hitting in the Rockies' extreme hitters park before his career took a downward turn. New starting first baseman Lyle Overbay won't be affected, as he hits left-handed and is more of a doubles hitter anyway. His former home, Rogers Centre (see below), is similar to PNC Park for lefties.

Pitchers:
The Pirates brought in Kevin Correia and gave him a rotation spot, but he couldn't make it as a starter in San Diego, an extreme pitcher's park, so things aren't looking up. Also new to town is Scott Olsen, who is coming from a similarly neutral environment in Washington.

Toronto
Rogers Centre - 98
LHB Avg 95/LHB HR 100/RHB Avg 97/RHB HR 116

Batters:
The Blue Jays acquired Rajai Davis from Oakland, who didn't hit much last year, so he will take all the help he can get Rogers Centre is a marginal improvement over McAfee Coliseum for hitters. Davis derives most of his fantasy value with his legs, having swiped 91 bases in the last two seasons.

Pitchers:
Closer Kevin Gregg was lost to the Orioles in free agency, so Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel will compete for those duties in 2011. Francisco, the favorite, could expect to improve his numbers, as he has pitched in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington his entire career. Dotel, on the other hand, posted a 4.28 ERA in Pittsburgh's neutral park last season.

Los Angeles Angels
Angel Stadium - 97
LHB Avg 100/LHB HR 95/RHB Avg 99/RHB HR 102

Batters:
The Blue Jays found a taker for Vernon Wells' seemingly bloated contract this offseason the Los Angeles Angels. As a right-handed hitter, Wells will now bat in an environment 14 percentage points worse for home runs than his old home. That doesn't bode well for the Angels sizeable financial commitment.

Pitchers:
Scott Downs, a free-agent signee, likely found Anaheim an attractive location to play due to the team's shaky closer situation. Fernando Rodney's 4.24 ERA from 2010 pales in comparison to Downs' 2.64, so expect him to receive a legitimate shot at unseating the incumbent. Downs will also benefit from the 11-percentage point reduction in home runs his new park will provide.

Minnesota
Target Field - 96
LHB Avg 105/LHB HR 65/RHB Avg 99/RHB HR 66

Batters:
The Twins opened their new ballpark in 2010, and rather surprisingly, it played as the worst home run park in the majors by far. There were 35 percent fewer long balls hit at Target Field than the average ballpark. Their big offensive acquisition was switch-hitting Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who shouldn't be expected to hit for power regardless of the stadium.

Pitchers:
Despite the extreme level of difficulty in hitting home runs at Target Field, notice it's still listed as a neutral park. Batting average, doubles and triples all come at above-average rates. Therefore, Carl Pavano's drop from a 5.10 ERA in 2009 to 3.75 ERA in 2010 cannot be attributed solely to the park change.

PITCHER'S PARKS (PI 90-95)

Houston
Minute Maid Park - 95
LHB Avg 105/LHB HR 104/RHB Avg 97/RHB HR 114

Batters:
Bill Hall, a right-handed pull hitter, appears to be perfect for this ballpark. He will start at second base, and should be aiming frequently at the Crawford boxes in left field, which sit just 315 feet from home plate (though the wall there is 19 feet high). Remember, Hall once had a 35-home-run season.

Pitchers:
The Astros have a large group of starters competing for the fifth rotation spot this spring, among them free-agent signee Ryan Rowland-Smith. Seattle was much more friendly to Rowland-Smith across the board, so he has his work cut out for him.

Oakland
McAfee Coliseum 95
LHB Avg 95/LHB HR 88/RHB Avg 96/RHB HR 86

Batters:
The Athletics added a number of bats, namely Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus and Josh Willingham. Matsui will be hurt the most by his park change, as Yankee Stadium is the league's best venue for left-handed home runs, 53 percentage points better than McAfee Coliseum. The other two batters aren't facing nearly as drastic of a transition.

Pitchers:
Brandon McCarthy first tried breaking into the big leagues with the White Sox, then moved to the Rangers, teams that have extreme hitter's parks. Now in Oakland, he will be in a situation that gives up 13 percent fewer home runs than league average. If he can stay healthy, he may finally live up to the promise he had as a top prospect.

Milwaukee
Miller Park - 94
LHB Avg 100/LHB HR 126/RHB Avg 96/RHB HR 96

Batters:
Overshadowed by Zack Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was also acquired by the Brewers in their high profile trade with the Royals this offseason. Unfortunately for Betancourt, only left-handed hitters are poised to prosper in Miller Park, though he does gain nine percentage points of home run index in the move.

Pitchers:
Pitching has usually been the weak link for the Brewers, so they added two top-of-the-rotation arms in Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum. Both right-handed, they will have to be careful at Miller Park when throwing to left-handed batters, who find it easy to crush balls into the right-field patio at field level. But overall, they will both see a slight improvement in pitching environments in 2011.

St. Louis
Busch Stadium - 93
LHB Avg 98/LHB HR 91/RHB Avg 98/RHB HR 77

Batters:
The Cardinals signed Lance Berkman to roam one of the corner outfield spots in 2011. Hitting somewhere next to or between Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should be a benefit, but his age and transition to a stronger pitcher's park will not. As a switch hitter, he used to hit many of his home runs over the short porch in left field at Houston's Minute Maid Park. He won't have that luxury in St. Louis.

Pitchers:
Most pitchers would enjoy packing up and moving to St. Louis, but the Cardinals didn't need to make any moves as they return their entire starting rotation. Top pitching prospect Shelby Miller is also at least one or two years away from pitching in the majors.

Cleveland
Progressive Field - 92
LHB Avg 98/LHB HR 89/RHB Avg 98/RHB HR 73

Batters:
Cleveland didn't change much offensively over winter, but it did return Austin Kearns, whom the Indians traded to the Yankees halfway through 2010. Kearns probably would have preferred to stay in New York, a much better hitting environment. He is only in line for a part-time role this season.

Pitchers:
The Indians didn't change much on the defensive side of the ball, either. They retain their full slate of rotation options from last season.

New York Mets
Citi Field - 92
LHB Avg 95/LHB HR 95/RHB Avg 97/RHB HR 83

Batters:
The Mets added reserve outfielder Scott Hairston and backup catcher Ronnie Paulino in free agency this offseason, but neither are very good hitters. At least Hairston is coming from one of the few parks worse than Citi Field for hitters, Petco Park in San Diego. Paulino spent last season in Florida's neutral Sun Life Stadium. Neither should be expected to receive extensive playing time or do much with the at-bats they do get, given their situations.

Pitchers:
Chris Capuano becomes a fantasy sleeper this year with his move to expansive Citi Field. He has spent his career to this point with Milwaukee and hasn't pitched much since undergoing a second Tommy John surgery in 2008. When healthy, he was an acceptable middle-of-the-rotation starter and could be that again in a good pitcher's park.

Tampa Bay
Tropicana Field - 92
LHB Avg 98/LHB HR 92/RHB Avg 97/RHB HR 96

Batters:
The Rays have brought in two AL East veterans, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, to bolster their offense after the loss of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. Those two signees should be more concerned about their age than their new home park, but neither will do them any favors this season.

Pitchers:
Tampa Bay also had big losses in its bullpen, so it signed Joel Peralta from Washington and Kyle Farnsworth from Atlanta to strengthen the late-inning stable of arms. Peralta saw his ERA drop after leaving Colorado in 2009, a trend that should continue in Tampa. Both players could challenge for the closer role this season.

Seattle
Safeco Field - 90
LHB Avg 95/LHB HR 92/RHB Avg 98/RHB HR 75

Batters:
The Mariners scored by far the fewest runs in the major leagues last year, which is difficult for a team with a designated hitter, but a bad offense looks even worse in Safeco Field. That said, the stadium is not as hard on left-handed hitters, and Jack Cust, the new DH in town, is actually in a better situation for home runs than he was in Oakland, if only by a little.

Pitchers:
Michael Pineda, the team's top prospect, is likely to win a rotation spot right out of spring training. He will begin his career in a great ballpark for pitchers. Pineda is a strikeout pitcher with a good groundball rate, so it should be easy for him to limit home runs.

EXTREME PITCHER'S PARKS (PI 89-)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium - 88
LHB Avg 95/LHB HR 101/RHB Avg 96/RHB HR 87

Batters:
Juan Uribe is the new starter for the Dodgers at second base, and like most newcomers to Dodger Stadium, projections should be lowered. His former park in San Francisco played slightly above average for him (batting average index of 102 for RHB, home run index of 101), so it may be tough to expect another 20 homer season.

Pitchers:
The Dodgers added Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla to compete for the fifth spot in their rotation. Most pitchers would see Dodger Stadium as an aid to their performance, but Jon Garland is coming from the one home park better for pitchers than Los Angeles Petco Park in San Diego. In moving from an extreme pitchers park to an extreme pitchers park, expect Garland's performance to be about the same, with an ERA in the upper 3.00's or near 4.00.

San Diego
Petco Park - 80
LHB Avg 87/LHB HR 59/RHB Avg 89/RHB HR 96

Batters:
San Diego is where hitters go to be forgotten. Most ballparks that suppress home runs at least have deep fences that allow for a lot of doubles and triples, but even those categories are below average at Petco Park. Cameron Maybin had a tough start to his young career in Florida and now has another obstacle to overcome after being acquired by the Padres in an offseason trade.

Pitchers:
On the other side of the coin, whoever the Padres trot out to the mound will usually be able to hold his own in this park. Aaron Harang, who signed a one-year deal with the club this offseason, will see a major difference between Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark (102 PI) and his new home, if he is given the starts.