The San Diego Padres ranks 15th in the National League in scoring. This seems appropriate, since they're also 15th in doubles, home runs and on-base percentage, and 16th in slugging percentage. And as they always do, the Padres' anemic hitting stats lead to questions about their cavernous home. MLB.com's Mark Thompson:
On Monday, Bud Black was asked what his stance was on moving in the PETCO Park fences.
"I think there's room for discussion," Black said, choosing his words carefully before taking a long pause and repeating himself. "I just think there's room to talk about it in our park."
Black didn't expand on what he said, but he hasn't been one to typically discuss the park's dimensions, even to that extent.
Driving the discussion is the Padres' statistics, which are drastically different at home, in comparison with their road numbers.
The teams' batting average is almost 50 points higher on the road (.252) than it is at home (.203), and the Padres have scored 57 runs in 26 home contests to 99 runs in 21 games on the road.
Black said he would be surprised if the discrepancy in those numbers were as great by the end of the season.
It is, to a large degree, the ballpark.
Here's where the Padres have ranked in scoring at home, 2007-2011: 16th, 16th, 16th, 15th, 16th.
Here's where the Padres have ranked in scoring on the road, 2007-'11: 4th, 10th, 7th, 9th, 2nd.
In case you missed the last round of realignment, there are 16 teams in the National League. Petco Park is essentially such an extreme pitcher's park that it really doesn't matter how good the Padres' hitters are; they'll still finish last in the National League in scoring.
Yes, that's a bit hyperbolic. But management has not done a poor job of collecting hitters. On balance, and considering the club's financial limitations, I suspect that management's actually done a fairly good job. In fact, it's somewhat amazing that the Padres rank second in road scoring this season, given the loss of Adrian Gonzalez.
I don't think the ballpark has kept the Padres from winning. I also don't think it's helped them much, if at all. It's been my considered opinion for some time -- and if I ever had evidence to back this up, it's long gone -- that the best ballpark is a pitcher's park, but only mildly so. Pitcher-friendly enough to aid in the development of young pitchers and limit over-taxing the bullpen, but not so pitcher-friendly that the hitters are complaining every day.
How pitcher-friendly is Petco Park? From 2008 through 2010, it was roughly 20 percent more difficult to score runs in Petco than in the "average" National League ballpark. Next toughest was Dodger Stadium, at 12 percent. Toughest in the American League was Safeco Field, at 10 percent.
As a baseball fan, I appreciate extremes and would rather see them preserved. But if I'm running the Padres, I'm thinking about turning Petco into just a regular pitcher's park.