Can Park Effects Overcome the Loss of Home Field Advantage?


Originally published at DFSEdge.

While itís generally considered sound strategy to select players at home and avoid those on the road, I did find some cases earlier this year where road pitchers will actually be better than home pitchers.† While home field advantage* is a very real and a significant factor in determining which players you should draft to your daily league team, sticking to a hard and fast rule of ďonly draft players at homeĒ can lead you to miss out on some big values.

For pitchers, this value is derived in large part from AL pitchers who get to play in NL parks.† For hitters, the benefits of playing a team in the opposite league are much smaller, most notably because AL pitchers donít have to face a DH when up against an NL opponent, but there is no equivalent for hitters.† Still, is it possible that park effects alone can overcome the loss of home field advantage for hitters?

First, letís look at home field advantage presented as an index (the way most park factors are presented):

Home Field Advantage for Hitters

AVG

HR%

K%

BB%

1.02

1.04

0.97

1.03

The average hitter will receive the biggest bump on his overall season line (home and road games combined) in home runs, followed by strikeouts and walks and then finally hits.† None of the bumps are particularly big, though.† Home Field Advantage raises the average hitterís home run rate by just 4%.† For the sake of comparison, check out the effective park factors for Coors Field in Colorado:

Coors Field Ė Effective Park Factors

AVG

HR%

K%

BB%

1.06

1.13

0.94

0.99

Granted, Coors Field is one of the most extreme parks in baseball when it comes to most of the big categories, but itís pretty obvious that the park is going to have a much bigger effect than home field advantage will.

Now consider that those park factors would only be appropriate to use if the hitter plays his home games in a neutral park and is playing on the road today in Coors.† Letís consider a player who calls an extreme pitcherís park (like Petco Park) home and is playing today in an extreme hitterís park (like Coors Field):

Park Effects of Moving from Petco Park to Coors Field

AVG

HR%

K%

BB%

1.12

1.21

0.89

0.96

Here, the effects just get bananas.† The average Padre on the road in Colorado will receive a 21% boost to his home run rate, a 12% boost to his batting average, and will cut his strikeout rate by 11%.† Umm, parks are important, guys.

Park Effects of Moving from Petco Park to Coors Field, Including Loss of Home Field Advantage

AVG

HR%

K%

BB%

1.11

1.18

0.87

0.93

Of course, we need to account for the loss of home field advantage for a hitter on the road, which I do in the table above.† Even once we do that, the numbers are still huge and, obviously, more than compensate for the loss.