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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Monday, July 24, 2006

No Place Like Home?: The Phillies Offense and Citizens Bank Ballpark 

The subject of Citizen’s Bank Ballpark and its effect on the Phillies fortunes will be, I suspect, a continual topic for the foreseeable future. Is the park helping or hindering the Phillies? How substantially pro-offense is the park? How does the park impact individual players?

Let’s start with Park Factors. As most of you reading this blog already know, Park Factors are where you compare what the Phillies and their foes hit at Citizens and then compare that with what they hit elsewhere. Multiply the numbers and you get your answer. Simply put, a 100 is neutral, over 100 favors hitters, under 100 favors pitching. Here are the Phillies 2004 and 2005 Park Factors:

Batting Average: 109
Home Runs: 119
Runs Scored: 111

Batting Average: 101
Home Runs: 123
Runs Scored: 109

Initially, I had disputed the idea that Citizen’s was a hitters park by quibbling with the strength of the numbers and noting that it was actually 10% harder to hit a double there. I think the 2005 numbers settled the argument quite nicely and I am willing to come forward and state that Citizens is unquestionably a hitters park. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Batting averages were 9% higher, home runs were 19% easier to hit, runs were 11% easier to score, triples were 37% easier to hit, and even doubles were 8% easier. I don’t see any rational argument to be advanced in support of the proposition that Citizens is anything but a hitters park.

Not surprisingly, the Phillies have hit better at Citizens this season. Check out the numbers:

Home / Away / Home Advantage
OBP: .335 / .328 / +.007
SLG: .442 / .415 / +.027
ISO: .179 / .165 / +.014
GPA: .261 / .251 / +.010

What the stats mean:
Gross Productive Average (GPA): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA. Invented by The Hardball Times Aaron Gleeman, GPA measures a players production by weighing his ability to get on base and hit with power. This is my preferred all-around stat.
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.

When it comes to the individual players, things become even more interesting. Let’s look at isolated power, the stat that measures the raw power a player brings to the game:

Home / Away / Home Advantage

Howard: .327 / .278 / +.049
Utley: .198 / .234 / -.036
Abreu: .181 / .167 / +.014
Burrell: .237 / .280 / -.043
Rollins: .170 / .155 / +.015
Bell: .117 / .079 / +.039
Rowand: .188 / .147 / +.041
Lieberthal: .119 / .071 / +.048
Fasano: .182 / .108 / +.072
Victorino: .148 / .161 / -.013
Dellucci: .283 / .273 / +.010

It didn’t surprise me that most of the Phillies played better at home than on the road, but it was a major surprise to me that Chase Utley and Pat Burrell actually hit better on the road than at home. Burrell, in particular struck me as being a player who benefited from the tight confines of Citizens Bank Ballpark. That simply doesn’t seem to be the case. Let’s explore this a little more:

Burrell: GPA

Home: .312
Away: .297

Burrell is hitting with power away from Citizens. His slugging percentage is .524 away and .512 at home, which is a major surprise to me. Burrell’s home OBP is better than his road: .405 to .368 … Compare Burrell’s surprising power on the road this season to season’s past:

Home: .557
Away: .447

Home: .519
Away: .399

While Pat’s newfound ability to hit on the road surprises me, I am in no way surprised to see that Chase Utley is doing so well. Chase might be the Phillies most under-rated and consistent player. In 2005 his away slugging percentage was higher than his home: .544 to .535 … so to this year, where Chase’s slugging percentage is .527 at home and .542 on the road.

The thing about the 2006 team is that the differences between their road and home performances aren’t as dramatic as they have been in the past. Like many teams this one hits better at home than on the road, but thus far this season the team hasn’t hit well at all. I think Pat Burrell is to be commended for his terrific performance at the plate this season. Any doubt that he wasn’t back to his ’02 form or is a creature of Citizens has been put to rest. But the rest of this team needs to step things up. It is a disgrace that Aaron Rowand is hitting just a .306 OBP and .443 slugging percentage at home. This team needs to take advantage of the fact that Citizens is so friendly to hitters and start hitting. Otherwise they are doomed to fizzle out of the pennant race in September.

Speaking of which: last night was a great example of why the Phillies are flailing in their bid for the playoffs. The Phils squandered numerous chances, grounding into three double plays and stranding 13 baserunners. What Charlie Manuel was thinking leaving Myers in to hit in the bottom of the seventh I'll never know. The game is tied, you have a runner on with no outs, why leave in your starter when you have an excellant bullpen than is rested? Have Dellucci pinch-hit. Naturally, Myers tired after that and the game spun out of control for the Phils. I always defended Manuel, but it might be time for him to go.

Honestly, I wasn't upset by Manuel leaving in Myers. I'd rather him error on the side of riding a hot arm than not.
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