Everyone on Earth knows that Petco Park in San Diego is a pitcher’s heaven. No one hits balls out of that park except for Adrian Gonzalez. But did you realize how significant of a park effect it has?
We all anticipate that Gonzalez is a perfect match for Fenway Park. He has an inside-out power stroke that should play extremely well in these dimensions since left field ends at 310 feet and has a 34-foot wall. In contrast, left field in Petco Park is 334 feet from home plate. Those 24 extra feet took away ~15 extra bases from Gonzalez in 2010. All 15 would have been hits in Boston.
3 homers and 12 doubles or 9 homers, 4 doubles and 2 singles. You can break it up however you want. Whatever the case, they are hits in Fenway. Petco is a bigger damper on team offense then most of us realized as we are so used to high-offensive output at Fenway Park. You hear about places like Petco and Safeco and you know the stories, but until you look at every data point, you can’t truly comprehend its impact. As ridiculous as pre-humidor Coors Field was is as ridiculous as Petco Park is in the other direction.
Both San Diego and their opponents hit around .230 as team at Petco Park. Neither side exceeded a .350 Slg and both sides’ pitching staffs had extraordinary success compared to the average park. It isn’t just a pitcher-friendly park, but it’s heavily slanted and borderline absurd.
Sometimes you hear people say ‘Yeah, but how much of that is the crappy Padres offense?’ If opponents were going into Petco and hitting well, we’d know it was an inept Padres attack, but when both the visitor and the home team continue to struggle to create 3.75 runs per game, you realize how fortunate we are to have Fenway Park and something interesting to watch. Games at Petco have a lot of routine outs with stolen bases and a run scratched in here or there.
A lot of people are jumping to the conclusion that with this change in scenery, Gonzalez becomes a threat for 50 home runs. While that is certainly possible, it’s probably not where the extra base hits will be coming from.
The key with Gonzalez and Fenway Park is to think in terms of doubles. Both parks are known for suppressing home run totals, but Fenway Park is ranked #2 in baseball park effects for doubles. The only place more conducive to doubles (home and away teams) is Colorado.
Petco Park is ranked dead last at #30. With that, I think we can expect Gonzalez push 50 doubles in 2011, not necessarily home runs.
Below are two photos that illustrate with colored dots where balls were hit last year by Gonzalez. Included are extra base hit-related data; HRs, 2Bs, 3Bs, line outs and flyouts.
The first chart is Adrian Gonzalez spray chart for Petco Park [katron.org]
PETCO PARK – Adrian Gonzalez
The second chart shows the exact same batted ball data, but applied at Fenway Park
FENWAY PARK – ADRIAN GONZALEZ(his Petco data overlaid on Fenway)
Now it’s important to keep in mind that these charts are for illustrative purposes. The dots indicate where the ball was fielded (if at all) and you cannot draw hard-line, analytical conclusions from the charts because it’s not perfect. But it does give you a good idea of how Gonzalez’ power-stroke plays at Petco Park versus Fenway Park.
It’s not an exact science, but by my count, Gonzalez had about 12 balls that were outs down the left field line in San Diego. Those are all off the Wall or out onto Lansdowne Street in Boston. There are also three flyballs that would be in the RF bullpen at Fenway, but were caught at Petco.
Again, not an exact science, but you do the math.
Gonzalez has a double-digit walk rate, elite power, 40% FB rate, 20% line drive and gold-glove defense. When you look at other first baseman, I don’t know of anyone outside of Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera who profiles better than him. Gonzalez has been underpaid relative to his peers for a long time. Now that he is in Boston, he will finally earn some prize money for his elite-profile and still be worth every bit of his $22 million dollars.
Gonzalez has the peripherals to hit .300 with 50 home runs. He’s a real legit and consistent profile that the advanced data, baseball scouts, fans and naked eye all support. Gonzalez won’t be in a cavernous home park, sandwiched between Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick anymore. He will instead hit third behind Dustin Pedroia and followed by Kevin Youkilis, in a home park that creates 6.25 runs per game. Sounds like some triple-digit counting stats to me. You can pretty much bank on Pedroia seeing a ton of juicy fastballs to hit and Jacoby Ellsbury scoring a ton of runs.
Expect to see a disproportionate number of dents in the Green Monster for the next eight years.
Adrian Gonzalez – 2011
“I’m going to be ill.” Tampa Rays Insider, Jason Collette, ESPN AM 1040, after seeing Adrian Gonzalez’ batted ball chart superimposed on Fenway.
Categories: Boston Red Sox