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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.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What do Tom Cruise, Ritalin & Citizens Bank Ballpark have in common? 

Absolutely nothing! However, watching the Phillies five-hit shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates got me thinking last night about an idea that I thought was nuttier than Tom Cruise: is Citizens Bank hurting the Phillies pitching?

I’ve previously dismissed criticism about Citizens on the grounds that so much of it was hand-wringing and based on anecdotal evidence. The 2005 Bill James Handbook put a little fuel on the fire by giving us numbers:

Home Runs: 123
Runs: 109
Hits: 101

Essentially, it means that it was 23% easier to hit a home run at Citizens than an “average” park, 9% to get a run, 1% to get a hit.

I derided the focus on home runs by noting than it was 10% harder to get a double at Citizens (Double factor: 90), and the 9% run differential was peanuts. If Citizens is so bad, I questioned, then why were the Phillies ERAs worse on the road than at home?:

Home / Road:
ERA: 4.33 / 4.61
WHIP: 1.32 / 1.40

Some stats I use defined …
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings.
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings.
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings.

I pride myself on being intellectually honest, so I have to confess that there is a possibility that I might be wrong based on the numbers at the mid-point of the Phillies season thus far:

ERA: 5.35 / 3.86
WHIP: 1.42 / 1.28

Ouch. Check out the differences between Home Runs allowed per 9 innings:

Road: 1.00
Home : 1.67

And that seems to be the crux of the matter because in many other respects the Phillies pitch well at home than on the road:

Road:
K/9: 6.62
BB/9: 3.19
BAA: .244

Home:
K/9: 7.16
BB/9: 3.06
BAA: .277

The home runs essentially account for the difference between batting averages allowed (that’s what BAA is, by the way). The Phillies pitch equally well at surrendering walks and getting strikeouts, but it is the home runs that are killing the team on the mound. It partly accounts for the reason why all of the Phillies starters have ERAs nearly two runs higher at home than on the road. I’m not sure of any other way to explain it than to concede that the “Coors Field East” hysterics I derided last fall might have a point. Check out ESPN's Park Factor page:

Home Runs: 113
Runs:102
Hits: 98
2B: 86

Home Runs are the problem here. While I’m tempted to fudge the numbers and be evasive … (I’ve always gotten a laugh out of conservative anti-environmentalists who argue that the science “isn’t fully developed” on global warming: actually it is and their response is essentially waving an intellectual white flag. Basically they can’t dispute the numbers, so they claim the data isn’t complete.) … but I have to take my lumps here and suggest that Year 2 at Citizens seems to be confirming the “Citizens is Coors Field East” story we all got so tired of hearing last year.

We’ll see … I might be able to stick to my guns in the end, but I have to admit I could be wrong.

Comments:
Mike, I enjoy your analysis, but there is something everyone seems to be missing. Almost ALL of the Phil's road games this year have been in the toughest pitchers parks in the majors. True, the Cit is a hitter's park, but that is exaggerated because the Phils play on the road in Miami, Washington, Atlanta, New York, Seattle, Oakland, etc., etc., etc. I haven't had time to do an exact analysis, but here's some preliminary work on the subject.
 
Here's more analysis on park factors as they relate to CBP.
 
Due to some comments I received when I made a post or two (or three hundred) about CBP, we have to be careful in using the ESPN database as the numbers change when you sort it.

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