Friday, January 21, 2005

Never Trust What A Pitcher Says

The Post takes a basic look at park effects at RFK and concludes that it's probably going to be pretty neutral. Their analysis isn't quite umm.. analytical.

They start out by interviewing two players.

"It's neither," said former Washington Senators pitcher Jim Hannan. "It's fair."...

"If you look at your multi-purpose stadiums, they're all kind of nondescript," said Frank Howard, the Senators' power-hitting outfielder from 1965 to 1971. "It's not like Fenway Park, with the left field wall. It's not like the Polo Grounds, with that deep center field. It's not like Yankee Stadium, with the graveyard out there. It was a dual-purpose stadium, and it was fair. I thought the ball didn't carry very well at night -- it was a better park to hit in during the day -- but that's about it."

So, it's a fair park because it's symmetrical? I suppose it's fair in that a symmetrical park isn't going to noticeably favor righties over lefties, but does that mean it's fair?

From all accounts, RFK was a slight pitcher's park. Baseball-Reference's numbers back this up too. Of course, Jim Hannan, a pretty mediocre pitcher, is going to think it's fair, especially given the run environment in the '60s. As for Frank Howard, he spent the first half of his career, playing in Dodgers Stadium--the most extreme pitcher's park in the game, in the stingiest run-scoring environment in the game's history. I'm sure that RFK was a paradise for him.

The dimensions for the park are probably average. But, if it played as a slight pitcher's park in the '60s, given the increased numbers of hitter's parks in the League (Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, etc) then wouldn't it stand to reason that RFK would be even more pitcher-friendly now? It's not being compared to the Astrodome anymore.

The article does note that they Senators scored a virtually equal number of runs per game at home and on the road: 3.61 versus 3.63. But, it doesn't mention the rates at which the other teams scored against the Senators pitchers. That is just as important, when determining park factor, as the team's batting.

It's a good attempt by the Post, but running anecdotes from old players isn't quite going to cut it.


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