Monday, June 18, 2007

Everybody Hates RFK, 'Cept The Pitchers

With the offensive orgy the team went on in the first part of this week's road trip (at least 'til they faced actual major-league pitching), there were a few more quotes from players talking about the distances of the walls at RFK. Reading them, it didn't seem like the whining of the past, just matter-of-fact assertions that the deep walls at RFK prevent the team from hitting as many homers as they would at another park. Simple enough.

I've talked before ad nauseum about park factors and how RFK really does hinder batters in comparison to other parks. When I've mentioned park factors, it's always been in the context of a single number. In RFK's case, I've used 80 as its park factor, meaning it yields about 20% fewer homers than an average park.

Hit Tracker via the Hardball Times
has taken it a step further giving us numbers for something we've all had a pretty good sense of. They've broken down each of the MLB parks into sections, giving us a park factor for each part of the park.

Needless to say, you won't be surprised to see that the easiest place to hit homers at RFK is down the line, where the factor is about 102. A dead pull hitter, as Soriano demonstrated, is not harmed by RFK. It's -- as Guillen and Vidro and many other showed us -- when you move to the gaps and center where it's a problem. The gaps have a factor of about 79 and dead center is at 51. 20% fewer balls are go out to the gaps, and nearly half as many leave to center field.

The link has the full breakdown of every park, and it's interesting to note the difference between some of the more extreme parks and RFK. Coors, for example, gives up twice as many homers to right-center than RFK. Can you imagine Cordero trying to pitch there!