It is a slow afternoon/early Saturday evening in central New Jersey, so I am doing what I do best....about to have a beer. But before that, I read Jeff Sullivan's excellent Five Numbers column over on the SB Nation main page. Amongst the nuggets of information he wrote about this week is this:
What people might not know, however, is that ballparks don't only affect things like doubles and home runs. It turns out that ballparks can have an effect on pretty much anything and everything. And it's with that in mind that I'd like to talk about Florida's Sun Life Stadium. Because it turns out that Florida's Sun Life Stadium has a dramatic effect on strikeouts.
How much of an effect? According to work done by Matthew Carruth and as shown onStatCorner.com, Sun Life Stadium increases strikeouts by about 11% - 11% for right-handed hitters, and 12% for left-handed hitters. Both of those rates are the highest in baseball, ranking ahead of Seattle's Safeco Field, San Diego's Petco Park, and Toronto's Rogers Centre (all of which also provide significant boosts).
It's a difficult park factor to explain, but just because we don't quite understand why it exists doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It very clearly does exist, and it's very clearly rather significant. Just look at the splits so far this season. The average hitter in the Majors strikes out 17.5% of the time at home and 18.8% of the time on the road. Marlin hitters, though, have struck out 22.3% of the time at home and 19.0% of the time on the road, while their pitchers have generated 21.4% strikeouts at home and 16.2% strikeouts on the road.
Jeff goes on to add this about Josh Johnson:
Perhaps nobody has felt the effect to a greater degree than young ace Josh Johnson, who has a career K/BB of 3.1 at home but 2.2 when away. Florida isn't an extreme park when it comes to run-scoring, but it is an extreme park with certain components, and those components are important.
I decided to take a look at the K/BB ratio leaders in both leagues, and Ricky Nolasco ranks 6th in the majors with a 4.43 K/BB ratio and Josh Johnson ranks 7th with a 4.39 K/BB ratio. Even more surprising is Johnson's 5.41 K/BB ratio at home in 11 starts this year compared to his 2.82 K/BB ratio on the road. Ricky Nolasco's K/BB rate at home is a superb 7.00, with a 3.31 K/BB rate on the road. Anibal Sanchez is not a big strikeout pitcher, but his K/BB ratio is 2.33 at home this year and just 1.38 on the road.
It appears Marlins pitchers are no-brainer starts at home going forward. i just wish Ricky Nolasco's ERA (4.66) would regress toward his xFIP (3.73) as I own him in several leagues.