2017 Park Factors, Plus 3-Year Averages

During the 2017 All-Star game day, Brandon Quaranta stepped out during the home run derby, took a deep breath, turned to the sidelines, and said, “Man, I wish we were in Strasburg right now.”

Of course, Brandon went on to win the derby rather easily, but he made an astute observation. Home runs are easier to hit in Strasburg than in Harrisonburg. Why? That’s hard to pinpoint. It could be because of the dimensions of the park. Or maybe even where the park is located- this year, someone mentioned to me that maybe Covington has high park factors because of the elevation (but according to google, Harrisonburg’s elevation is higher than Covington…). Some people believe that it’s difficult to hit home runs in Woodstock because the field is located in a “bowl,” with high banks behind the outfield fence. Charlottesville’s park is similar.

For whatever the reason, it makes sense that different parks play differently with offensive output. This isn’t basketball, after all.

But what are Park Factors? The easy explanation is that Park Factors compare what happens in each park to what happens in other parks. So the Strasburg Express hitters’ statistics, and their opponent’s statistics at home, for example, are compared to what they did on the road. Eventually, after very much calculating (and a huge amount of time), the outcome shows us which Valley League parks, for example, have more runs scored, or home runs hit, than the other parks. A final number of 100 means a neutral park. Numbers higher than 100, like 132, for example, means that 32% more of that stat happened at this park over the given time period. Numbers less, like a 68, means that 32% less of that stat occurred. Does any of this make sense? To see more of an explanation, click here to read Fangraph’s “Beginner’s Guide” to park factors.

One common question posed to me is, “But what if a team has really good pitchers? That would suppress what happens in their home park, right?” Sure, it would. But those good pitchers also pitch on the road, which means that offense would be suppressed on the road as well. And those numbers are used together.

With all this said, though, we need to remember that the sample size for this exercise is pretty small. Each Valley League teams only plays a little over 20 games a year at home, and the same amount on the road. Major league teams play four times that in just one season. So the sample size is small, which means that the numbers are not as stable. The three-year averages are a little better, but even stats over three Valley League seasons do not equal a full major league season. Keep that in mind.

Ok, are we ready? Let’s first look at the park factors for 2017. Remember, 100 is average.

2017 Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 84.37 88.07 118.78 96.42 42.42
Covington 105.56 102.85 89.67 114.77 217.37
Front Royal 91.97 87.63 113.35 7.49 108.23
Harrisonburg 103.95 96.23 98.23 379.01 81.04
New Market 74.40 86.94 78.18 172.93 78.23
Purcellville 118.28 113.04 123.10 72.95 109.42
Staunton 89.77 97.68 98.42 46.80 140.03
Strasburg 114.67 105.35 78.83 13.59 184.77
Waynesboro 110.75 113.29 112.31 168.31 38.33
Winchester 114.72 94.98 127.51 178.11 115.66
Woodstock 98.89 114.67 86.07 130.20 62.78
  • Six parks play over 100 for runs scored, and five play under. Interesting that New Market is the lowest, at 74.40, even though they had a dynamite offense in 2017. I wonder what numbers those players would have put up if they played in Purcellville’s home park, which is the highest, at 118.28.
  • Waynesboro’s and Charlottesville’s home parks are the lowest in home runs, while Covington and Strasburg are the highest. Covington’s 217.37 means 117.37% more home runs are hit in that park! 61.67% less home runs than average are hit in Waynesboro.
  • Also interesting to see how few triples are hit in Front Royal and Strasburg. There was one triple hit in Front Royal in 2017 in 1465 at-bats (by both teams), while the Cardinals and opponents hit 13 triples in 1427 at-bats elsewhere! (That triple was hit on June 15th, by Dylan Hardy, if you’re interested.)

Now let’s take a look at the three year averages. (Purcellville has been in Fireman’s Park for only two years, so their average is just from 2016 and 2017.)

 2015-2017 Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 83.92 96.34 99.70 53.48 43.56
Covington 97.91 96.58 107.54 119.06 173.65
Front Royal 88.57 89.69 99.07 46.12 86.41
Harrisonburg 106.50 100.78 99.20 233.35 112.32
New Market 90.81 97.80 94.75 105.39 70.20
Purcellville 95.72 103.71 100.04 70.69 81.20
Staunton 108.53 103.54 123.29 50.43 143.50
Strasburg 106.23 91.66 95.59 78.14 225.49
Waynesboro 101.98 111.38 89.82 177.59 42.98
Winchester 119.79 102.69 139.83 166.19 162.99
Woodstock 101.32 107.24 82.74 130.04 72.75

These numbers are over a 60+ game sample.

  • Interesting that Winchester is above average in every single category, while Charlottesville and Front Royal are the opposite.
  • Look at the triples in Harrisonburg! And the home runs in Strasburg!

It would be fascinating if any of the teams used this data to build a team. Strasburg- big, powerful sluggers to play to their strength. Charlottesville and Front Royal- gappers, speedy guys… but it could play the other way, too. Strasburg should build their staff with ground ball pitchers, Front Royal could get extreme fly ball guys and populate their outfield with good defenders….

Of course, summer league GMs would probably be best served to get the best players they can, whether they fit into the park or not. One way or the other, this exercise gives us food for thought!

 

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2016 Park Factors, Plus Three-Year Averages!

If you’re going to spend time reading/perusing one post from this year, this is the one. This information is the most labor-intensive of anything ATVL does throughout the entire year. SO if you’re going to comment, this is the post!

Welcome to Park Factors.

First of all, what are Park Factors? The easy explanation is that Park Factors compare what happens in each park to what happens in other parks. So the Strasburg Express hitters’ statistics, and their opponent’s statistics, for example, at home are compared to what they did on the road. Eventually, after very much calculating, the outcome shows us which Valley League parks, for example, have more runs scored, or home runs hit, than the other parks. A final number of 100 means a neutral park. Numbers higher than 100, like 132, for example, means that 32% more of that stat happened at this park over the given time period. Numbers less, like a 68, means that 32% less of that stat occurred. Does any of this make sense? To see more of an explanation, click here to read Fangraph’s “Beginner’s Guide” to park factors.

This is fraught with problems, of course. One problem is that the larger the sample, the more accurate the number. The Valley League plays 40-couple games each year, not counting the playoffs, which means that the sample is only 20 games or so, which means our findings can fluctuate wildly. Ultimately, the Valley League’s sample is only 25% of the major league’s yearly sample. The three-year average is a little better, but three years of the Valley League is still smaller than one year of the major leagues.

So what I have for you today, Brilliant Reader, is not only the Valley League Park Factors for 2016, but the three-year average as well. Like mentioned above, this is an insane amount of work- each and every game played has to be entered in a log, and then everything totaled at the end. See the bottom of this post for a picture of what my research looks like.

Here’s what the league looked like in 2016, in regards to runs, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs:

2016 Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 84.81 107.79 89.69 32.31 57.43
Covington 98.19 92.83 121.36 103.38 115.78
Front Royal 97.40 96.03 77.84 60.42 90.62
Harrisonburg 112.32 104.59 96.08 223.65 142.32
New Market 103.98 108.58 114.32 72.14 60.46
Purcellville 73.16 94.37 76.98 68.42 52.97
Staunton 129.50 95.52 146.91 66.61 214.10
Strasburg 97.34 77.51 115.25 80.67 187.28
Waynesboro 84.97 109.27 72.30 195.50 49.65
Winchester 109.49 113.69 125.62 94.98 104.48
Woodstock 121.11 105.47 92.93 130.24 137.95

Some fascinating stuff in here. Charlottesville was below average in each category but singles. C-Ville Weekly Ballpark suppressed home runs by almost 43%. Purcellville’s and Waynesboro’s parks suppressed home runs to a greater extent than Charlottesville. And then look at Harrisonburg, Strasburg, and Staunton’s home run number! There were 114% more home runs hit at Gypsy Hill Park!

Kate Collins in Waynesboro suppresses doubles, but the triple number is huge. Oddly, Rebels Park allows 4% more runs, but not by home runs; home runs are down almost 40%.

And here’s the three-year averages for each team. *NOTE* Charlottesville’s averages are over two years, since that’s how long the team has been in the Valley, and Purcellville has only one year of data, so see above for the Cannons’ totals.

 3 Year Avg. Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 83.70 100.48 90.16 32.01 44.13
Covington 98.80 99.21 109.47 140.42 153.60
Front Royal 83.06 88.03 96.42 47.81 82.15
Harrisonburg 97.94 103.23 97.35 154.50 92.91
New Market 98.66 100.46 99.11 130.07 69.00
Staunton 117.93 106.97 125.51 39.26 174.36
Strasburg 99.90 89.03 103.00 73.77 232.17
Waynesboro 95.21 110.38 75.45 130.75 68.55
Winchester 122.95 103.38 132.49 158.39 172.57
Woodstock 97.79 101.08 91.85 134.28 71.83

Just look at the home runs at First Bank Park in Strasburg! Winchester and Staunton see more runs, while all the other teams see less (although many are very close to average). The toughest place to score runs, according to these averages? Bing Crosby Stadium, Front Royal! That is not what ATVL would have expected.

Ok, Brilliant Reader, now it’s your turn: what are your thoughts?

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