Matching The Team To The Stadium

Fenway Park has the Green Monster, Coors Field has the humidor, and Minute Maid Park has the Crawford Boxes. Lots of stadiums have quirks or tendencies that favor certain kinds of players and big league executives are well aware of it. MLB GMs say they prefer to have players whose skill sets match their parks, but that's just one consideration when constructing a roster.

The Tigers, for example, play 81 games per season in spacious Comerica Park, so GM Dave Dombrowski says he looks for outfielders who can cover lots of ground whenever possible.

"Fortunately we have an outstanding defensive center fielder now in Austin Jackson," Dombrowski told MLBTR last week in Orlando. "But you know you have to have an outstanding center fielder in Comerica Park who can really go get the ball or it’ll hurt you a great deal."

Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn will be in the Tigers organization in 2011, but longtime right fielder Magglio Ordonez is a free agent, so the Tigers may look to acquire a corner outfielder via trade or free agency. If they do, Comerica Park will be a factor.

"Even your corner outfielders, it’s hard to get just a guy who is a stationary type guy because our outfield’s big, so we take it into consideration quite a bit,” Dombrowski said.

Like Comerica Park, San Diego's Petco Park has a larger than average outfield. And Padres GM Jed Hoyer acquired former Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin partly because his athleticism should make the club better defensively.

"Having a big station to station team that plays poor defense doesn’t seem like a recipe for success given the ballparks we play in,” Hoyer said.

No team adds or subtracts players purely because of their ballpark and the Padres are no exception. But because of the unbalanced schedule, Hoyer is intent on fielding a team that can cover lots of ground at Petco.

"We play 81 games there, we play nine in AT&T Park, we play nine in Dodger Stadium, the outfield in Coors Field is huge so you start adding it up and the number of games we play in big fields is a lot and we need to be fast," Hoyer said.

Similarly, some teams in homer-friendly ballparks are inclined to acquire pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. Camden Yards has been one of baseball's five friendliest home run environments for four years running, according to ESPN's park factors, and the Orioles front office knows how their home stadium plays. As president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail points out, you can't hit a ground ball out of the park.

"We do pay attention to [ground ball rate], we definitely factor it in," MacPhail said. "All things being equal it’s a positive, but it’s not a sole driver in terms of what we do."

If the O's really did make decisions completely based on ground ball rate, they would not have signed Koji Uehara, who was effective in 2010 despite allowing 2.5 times as many fly balls as ground balls. Instead, park factors are one element of the team's decision-making process.

"If we think we can find the right guy even if he doesn’t have that [ground ball] number that would be ideal, we’ll [consider him],” MacPhail said.


23 Responses to Matching The Team To The Stadium Leave a Reply

  1. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    Thanks for this. I have advocated that GM’s take advantage of players that suit their home park whenever they can. It’s nice to see that many of them do; it’s also a way to get value out of flawed players or incomplete players.I find the flyball/groundball pitcher argument often ignores one of the things pitchers can do-have command good enough to not allow a batter to square up on the pitch. If a hitter can’t get a good swing on the ball, it isn’t going out of the park.

  2. JP Riccardi got Lyle Overbay to knock doubles into the gaps at Rogers Centre.

    He had some productive moments but it didn’t work out as well as he expected.

    • boyofsummer 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, the gaps at Rogers Centre aren’t particularly spacious (the distance to the power alley fence is marginally shorter at the RC than in Milwaukee), and Overbay isn’t a speedster.

  3. bigpat 5 years ago

    The Pirates have been looking for a left handed power hitter since PNC Park opened since they say they can take advantage of the dimensions. Hopefully Alvarez and Jones will be those guys. The last guy to really take advantage of it was Nate McLouth who beat the cover off the ball for a bit in Pittsburgh then looked lost in Atlanta.

    • gornie 5 years ago

      a shame too because i hear from so many dependable sources that pnc park is the only yard that can truly compete with at&t park for the title of most beautiful ballpark in the majors. i really do hope they can figure things out in pittsburgh. alvarez does look like the real deal at least and unlike jones he’s still got a ton of potential to grow into the next 5 years.

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

        PNC is the most beautiful park I’ve been in. I haven’t been to AT&T, so I can’t say it is the most beautiful park, but PNC is breathtaking on a clear day.

      • PookieGonzales 5 years ago

        I’ve unfrortantly never been. I really, really want too though. For me the best is Fenway just because I’m a red sox fan but I’m sure PNC is fantastic.

  4. Mark Benson 5 years ago

    No offense, but this post states the obvious.

  5. People may not realize it, but Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog did this very thing in the early 80s in St. Louis. Busch Stadium was spacious and had the bouncy, artificial surface that many parks had back in the day. So he loaded up on track stars who could get on base and catch the ball. The result was one World Series championship and two more NL championships. Many associate “Whiteyball” with defense, speed, squeeze plays, etc. but building the team around Busch Stadium was just as much a part of that equation as anything.

    • gornie 5 years ago

      lifelong giants fan, and i was only 7 years old at the time, but when i think about entertaining, fun-to-watch baseball, the 1985 world series comes to mind first. a regional rivalry prior to the interleague play era, whitey’s cardinals vs the similarly built speed-and-defense royals. guys like willie mcgee, willie wilson, ozzie smith, vince coleman just trying to beat the defense and using their speed to create drama. i think that’s the year when tommy herr got something like 110 rbi with fewer than 10 hr.

      baseball at its finest! as a fan, i’d rather see triples than homers any day!

  6. Still they signed Damon. 81 games in the air tunnel Yankee Stadium (the first year).9 games at Boston and its 296 ft right-field.9 games at Candem Yard ( see the article) And 9 games at the home of Bautista, Buck and Wells. Still, someone said that 17 of 24 hrs were hrs also at Comerica Park. He hit 8 hrs because its not only the park dimensions but the temperature( Texas- Seattle), humidity ( Saint Louis- Texas) and wind (Chicago-Chicago).

    • PookieGonzales 5 years ago

      To be honest thought that’s just down the line. It gets pretty deep at some parts

  7. Damon hit 17 at home in 2009 and only 7 on the road. I think Yankee Stadium had a lot to do with those 17 obviously.

    I think now that Granderson apparently was able to fix his swing he could put up a nice fat HR number there in 2011, assuming he can stay fixed. It just seems like he hits a ton of fly balls. He was able to hit 30 at Comerica in 2009, including 20 in 81 away games. While unlikely, I would not be surprised at all if he led the Yanks in HR’s next year.

  8. Guest 5 years ago

    I’d like to point out that Victor Martinez has had ZERO success in Comerica park throughout his career… and he has played there a lot…

  9. Guest 5 years ago

    I’d like to point out that Victor Martinez has had ZERO success in Comerica park throughout his career… and he has played there a lot…

  10. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

    Michael Bourn and his two gold gloves fall up that hill just fine.

  11. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    He is. He plays that hill just about as well as anybody can hope for. He’s fun to watch, trying to scale that thing, not really feeling where his feet are going. Now if he could just add a few improvements at the plate…..anyway, I like Michael Bourn, and he ain’t responsible for the players they have surrounded him with.

  12. gornie 5 years ago

    chill out dude, he’s a dodgers fan so that explains it. matching player to ballpark = getting a weirdo diva like manny ramirez to play in southern california.

  13. Ethanator99 5 years ago

    As a Reds fan, I HATE that hill. I feel like it took at least 5 HRs away from the Reds this year.

  14. Ethanator99 5 years ago

    As a Reds fan, I HATE that hill. I feel like it took at least 5 HRs away from the Reds this year.

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