Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Citizens: Thoughts and Reconsiderations 

Back in November I made the argument that Citizen’s Bank wasn’t the hitter park advertised by the media. To support my case I noted that the Phillies had a higher batting average on the road (.268 vs. .266) and that aside from marginal increases in home runs (home: 113, road: 102) and runs (home: 424; road: 416) at Citizens, there was precious little evidence to support the argument that Citizen’s was Coors Field East. After looking at the 2005 Bill James handbook, I’m prepared to revise my particulars, but restate my thesis that Citizen’s isn’t a hitters park.

Here are the raw numbers from the handbook and Citizen’s rank amongst the sixteen NL parks:
Batting Average: 101 (7th)
Hits: 101 (7th)
Runs: 109 (3rd)
Home Runs: 123 (3rd)
Doubles: 90 (14th)
Triples: 117 (7th)

(A word to the unaware: James calculates his Park Factors by comparing what the home team and its foes hit at the park and in neutral parks. A number of 100 is neutral. Over 100 favors batters, under favors pitchers. A factor of 102 for home runs means it was 2% easier to hit a home run at that park than at a neutral park.)

So it was 1% easier to get a hit at Citizens, 9% easier to score a run, 23% easier to hit a home run, 17% easier to hit a triple, and 10% harder to get a double. So Citizen’s is a hitters park? Hardly. When it comes to getting a hit, Citizen’s is basically neutral ground. True, it is easier to score a run, but that’s due to Citizen’s friendliness to sluggers. I grant you, the 9% boost in scoring is significant, but it is largely explained by the 23% boost in homers. Aside from the friendliness to sluggers, Citizens is fairly middle of the pack. In contrast, Coors Field in Colorado is a true hitters park:

Batting Average: 119 (1st)
Hits: 126 (1st)
Runs: 145 (1st)
Home Runs: 123 (3rd)
Doubles: 123 (1st)
Triples: 144 (3rd)

The rarified air in the mile high city doesn’t explain why it is so easy to get a hit of any type (single, extrabases) at Coors Field. The park’s dimensions, its wide power alleys, explain why the Rockies are such offensive jauggernauts year after year. Coors is truly a park that magnifies a team’s abilities and makes them play as if they are something they are not. I think Citizen’s closest mate is U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, home of the White Sox:

Batting Average: 102 (5th of 14)
Hits: 102 (5th)
Runs: 104 (5th)
Home Runs: 131 (1st)
Doubles: 95 (9th)
Triples: 89 (7th)

Easy to hit a home run, but not that much easier to get a hit, an extrabase hit, or score a run there.

(I hestitate to include the data about triples because it wildly swings all over the place. I think that because triples are so rare in the game today that a team legging out a triple or two on the road swings the numbers wildly in one direction or another.)

I think that the media fixated so much in 2004 on Citizen’s hitters reputation because they couldn’t explain the poor play of the Phillies pitching staff any other way, and because the Phillies were coming from such a terrific pitchers park, the Vet:

The Vet (2002-2003)
Batting Average: 91
Hits: 89
Runs: 85
Home Runs: 92
Doubles: 92
Triples: 101

Little to argue with here. Those are all dramatic swings (e.g., 31% with the home runs), and I think that all of the chatter about Citizens is shock at the Phillies finally playing at a neutral / homer-friendly park.

Misc.: Peter Gammons, one of my favorite baseball writers, has a column this week at ESPN discussing the new-look New York Mets. Interesting points:

-Gammons suggests that the Delgado-led Marlins are now the team to beat in the NL East. I don't disagree.
-Gammons also notes that 2005 could be the Yankees last hurrah for a while. The team is soaking in multi-year contracts for under-performing players like Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi. They will have four players making $19 million in 2006. Yikes. Steinbrenner might suspect that time is running out for his gladiators. If they don't win the World Series this year, it could be curtains for the Yankee dynasty.

-Peter King's Monday Morning QB talks a little about the Super Bowl. Gotta love the opening quote from Rendell about the prospect of an All-Pennsylvania Super Bowl. Living in Steelers country (northern Allegheny County) and knowing how much Western PA voters love dem Stillers, it always surprises me that Republicans don't try to turn Rendell's Eagles allegiance against him. The '02 GOP candidate, Mike Fisher, did try a sad "bash-Philly" strategy when he fell behind in the polls, running TV spots in Pittsburgh talking up how much he liked the Pittsburgh Primanti Bros. cheesesteak compared with the Philly cheesesteak. You know you've lost when your campaign ads start huffing about which cheesesteak you like better. Anyway, this side of the state is getting Redder while the Southeast gets Bluer. Might explain why Republicans are so interested in recruiting Lynn Swann to run for Governor despite his lack of qualifications (namely, any experience in government whatsoever). I expect to see some sort of "I hate Philadelphia" strategy from the '06 GOP candidate.

Nice article from Kevin Mulligan at the Daily News comparing the 1980 and 2004 Eagles teams.

Show your pride in the Eagles this week by putting some Eagles Wallpaper on your laptop or PC. Click here for the Eagles Wallpaper page. I have this one on my laptop right now.

Enjoy the weekend, ya'll!

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