Eddie died every year America baseball Combines park factors for all 120 minor league ball courts at four different levels, A-level, A-level, AA, and AAA. This data helps us better understand the environments that are played, Homer, and the overall environments of the parks in which teams play. This understanding is critical to putting statistics in context when trying to assess expectations. The differences from league to league and park to park can be extreme.
Eddy ranks each league, running components, hummers, and BABIP (average hitting balls during play) for each park. 100 equals league average Within that league. Over 100 favor hitters For this league Below 100 favorite pitchers. The number 110 means that the park amplifies this aggressive action by 10%. He then contextualizes that number against the league’s operating environment in general to create a rating he calls TRC, where the higher the number the friendlier it is. The highest running environment of all 120 ball parks was 6.91, (Amarillo) and the lowest was 4.35. (Palm Beach)
You can read more about Eddy’s methodology and see all the spreadsheets at this link in the text highlighted in the first paragraph. The following is a summary of affiliated D-backs parks only.
Greater Nevada Field, Reno Aces, PCL AAA, 6.13 TRC, 93rd percentile
It is perhaps best known to many Diamondback fans that the AAA Reno division of the Pacific Coast League plays in the hitters’ garden. For years we’ve seen players put up flashy numbers of aces only to struggle to get close to those numbers in the major currencies. Besides the apparent difficulty of making the jump from AAA to MLB, the environment there often swells the numbers quite a bit. This can cause us to sometimes have unrealistic expectations for a hitter, or conversely be pleasantly surprised by a bowler coming into the MLB with a swelled AAA ERA.
Perhaps surprisingly, Nevada’s Great Field, at 4,500 feet, ranks only fifth in the friendliest park within the PCL. Albuquerque, El Paso, Las Vegas and Salt Lake are more extreme. The home field factor is just 87, or 13% below the league average. The thing is, PCL is still the most humanoid league of all the minor leagues, nearly 25% above average. So 13% below the PCL average is still more than the entire minor league average.
That’s why you see pitchers like Drey Jameson (6.95 ERA at AAA) or Ryne Nelson (5.43 ERA at AAA) surprising us in the MLB. Meanwhile, this is why you might see a player like Cooper Hummel, (.950 OPS in AAA) or Alek Thomas, (.936 OPS in AAA) putting an OPS 300 points lower in MLB.
Hodgetown, Amarillo Sod Poodles, Texas League AA, 6.90 TRC, 100th Percentile
It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the AA’s affiliated D-backs, Amarillo Sod Poodles of the Texas Major, play in the friendliest of all affiliated minor league baseball’s. The Texas League is already considered a hitter league, behind only California and PCL in average runs per game. And within this huge friendly league, Hodgetown, at 3,600 feet, is off the charts, with a park Runs factor of 142 and a whopping factor of 165. That means 42% more runs are scored and 65% more homeowners are injured on a ball court. This is compared to the rest of the Texas League.
Looking at the home/road split of some of the major Diamondbacks shooters who have thrown the most games at AA this year shines:
Slide Ciccone 5.74 home, 3.27 outside
Blake Walston 5.43 at home, 4.02 outside
Brandon Pvadt 4.54 home, 3.29 away
Of course, the opposite is true for most hitters who have called Hodgetown home for any length of time this year, have seen home/road splits between 75 to 250 points.
Here’s a video interview with Pfaadt, who won the Diamondbacks of the Year award by staying aggressive, no matter the stadium environment.
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Ron Tonkin Field, Hillsboro Hobbs, Northwest League A+4.59 TRC, 8 percent
Hillsborough Hobbs’ Advanced Class A+ Northwest league is the only branch of the Diamondbacks league that plays in bowler league, and they play their home games in a pitcher lawn that prevents running on their land. The park’s operator factor is 87, 13% below average, and the homerun factor is just 53, meaning the park has reduced homeowners by nearly 50%.
AJ Vukovich had .842 OPS on the road versus only .675 OPS at home. Caleb Roberts had 0.900 OPS on the road and only 593 at home. These are two potential couples who could surprise by rolling out big numbers in Amarillo next year.
On the flip side, many shooters who gave a lot of roles to Hops had far less time at home than on the road. For example, Luke Albright had a 3.92 ERA in the house but 7.35 on the road in 123 runs. Scott Randall has a 2.31 ERA home versus 5.35 ERA Road. Encouragingly, perhaps, Jameson Hill had a reverse split, 5.37 at home, but 3.88 on the road.
Strong Valley Park, Visalia Rawhide, California League, Class A, 5.83 TRC, 88 percent
With a league average of 6.07 runs per game, the California League has the highest scoring rate of any league in minors. So despite being the second most friendly park in that league, Valley Strong park still ranks as a strike environment, as evidenced by its 5.83 TRC which falls in the 88th percentile.
With many small ball fields, poor quality pitches, and a number of dry California desert environments with high winds, the age of bowler and OPS will always be amplified in this league.
With three out of four Diamondbacks Minor League parks in heavy hitter environments, the organization ranks second among all MLB organizations for hitter friendly environments overall. Only Auckland has a tougher environment for shooters.
Earlier in July, we spoke with head coach Brent Strom who provided some insight into how the team evaluates shooters in such environments.
“We watch a lot. One of the most important things to me is being able to throw something other than a fastball when you’re behind in counting. Something out of speed. These big league hitters are fishing, they’re like sharks that smell blood in the water. When they feel like That the youngster can’t get rid of anything quickly above the board. They really start catching the fast ball, and then they start catching it in certain positions. We’re watching players who can change 2-1 or a slider, something above the board.
The ERA’s in Reno or Amarillo, they are not important to me. What I’m interested in are those peripheral-type things, like going forward with the count, what you can throw away when you’re late counting. What can you go to 3-2. Do you always go back to Fastball for fear of walking someone?”
“What you find when you have bowlers in Reno and Amarillo, you find out who can hold. I think we watch with our young bowlers now, when they drop a bet for example, do they go back to the strike area or do they start dancing away from the strike area. Do you walk right after the race? Or will you strike again?
He also gave some great information about how altitude environments affect weather readings even on things like “carrying” or jumping a fastball.
“You realize that when you look at 12 inches of the load in Renault, you might play at 17 inches here in the desert”
In the end Strom summed it up like this:
“What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.”