Thursday, April 05, 2007

Context is Everything

As regular readers know, I've been complaining about Dodd Stadium and its effects on our hitters and pitchers there. I just ran across an article by an expert in sabermetrics, who has written a book, that addresses this issue in the early part of the article:

If there's a single thing to understand, it's probably this. Context takes many forms — the park a player toils in, his league, his era, his spot in the lineup, and the quality of his opposition, to name only a few.

Most fans grasp that Coors Field benefits hitters and that Petco Park benefits pitchers, but knowing that really isn't enough. Shea Stadium, for instance, is much, much tougher on right-handed power hitters (like David Wright) than on left-handed power hitters (like Carlos Delgado). So it's not sufficient to say a park merely helps or hurts the offense or the pitcher. We need to know who it's helping or hurting and to what extent.

...

As for the differences in league, they have serious bearing on the minor leagues. The High-A Pacific Coast League[SIC-should be AAA], for instance, is a great circuit for hitters, while the High-A Carolina League is fairly hostile toward the offense. So it's especially important not to take minor league numbers at face value. What kind of league did he play in? What kind of park did he play in? Was he older or younger than his peer group? These are all vital pieces of information for assessing a prospect.

As he notes, "it's not sufficient to say a park merely helps or hurts the offense or the pitcher. We need to know who it's helping or hurting and to waht extent," and he asks, "What kind of a park did he play in?"

As I've shown in the various posts that I have done, HR power is halved at Dodd relative to the rest of the Eastern League. It is also significantly reduced when compared to any other stadium in the EL. Thus it hurts all our power hitters on the team, and it greatly helps all the starting pitchers we have on the team, making them look better than they really are. Trying to hit for power at Dodd is a Sisyphusian endeavor, trying to hit a homer there but failing over and over again, I worry for the confidence of any power hitter forced to play in Norwich, as long as that park is unchanged.

And as far as I know, the latest news was that the planned re-sodding to improve the fairness of the field was scrapped because, for some reason, ESPN did not want the field changed for some sort of filming that they were planning on doing there. Whatever amount ESPN paid to rent the use of the field was not worth the damage it will inflict on our hitters there this season.

2 comments:

  1. the defender owners are in the biz of making money, not seeing that our players development continues unabated...

    the giants asked them to move the fences in...they said that was not economical, but they would move home plate up...then espn came and threw money at them, so they didnt do it for this season

    im not sure when the contract with the defenders ends, but the giants need to look at some other options for the coming years

    not just because the eastern league skews stats for both o and pitching, but because the weather during the early part of the season is always miserable

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, they are in the business of making money, and it will be pretty hard to make money if no MLB team wants to use your park as their home park because it screws up some of their best homerun hitting prospect's swings.

    The contract with Connecticut was recently renewed, I think before last season, when they changed their name, but probably with the understanding that the park problem will be fixed soon.

    The thing is that neither team wanted to pay for the reconfiguration, but of course the Giants have more clout. However, lucky for the Defenders, the city was required by the lease signed with the team to resod the field periodically and a resod was due, so the idea was hatched to reconfigure the field since it needed to be resod anyway and it won't cost the Defenders anything. But then the ESPN deal screwed that up.

    I have no firm idea when it will be done, but their new GM, who I've been e-mailing with, says that there will be an opportunity to change it when the field will be replaced at the end of this year - so apparently the resod was delayed to the end of this season. I'm not sure why he made it so cryptic about the "opportunity", I guess maybe ESPN (or another "opportunity") could come along and delay the resod again.

    Yeah, I've always wondered about the change from the Texas League and Shreveport, to the Eastern League. Of course, the heat down South would be a great reason why you would want to move, but going to Norwich is like moving from Death Valley to Antartica, in terms of heat and weather change.

    ReplyDelete

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