Fantasy Baseball: Best Pitching Ballparks

One of the key factors that should play into any decision you make in fantasy baseball — be it season-long or daily — is the stadium in which a game is played. Depending on the venue, batter and pitcher values can fluctuate wildly.

For example, the high altitude and resulting thin, dry air at Coors Field in Colorado famously causes balls to fly out of the stadium, making even the best pitchers a dicey proposition and even the most mediocre hitters viable options. Meanwhile, in Yankee Stadium, offense is also prevalent but for a different reason. The fences in both left and right field are scrunched in at 318 feet and 314 feet, respectively, making them easy to clear for power hitters.

On the other hand, pitchers thrive at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, with its expansive outfield of 339 feet in left and 399 feet in center, along with a 25-foot wall to clear in the shorter right field.

In this two-part series, we’ll examine the top five stadiums for first hitters and then pitchers, and provide a complete ranking of every stadium. The park factor data is pulled from 2013-2015 at FanGraphs, and park dimension information comes from swishanalytics.com. Ties are broken by home run factor, and the plus or minus indicates how much scoring is increased or decreased at the stadium relative to MLB average.

Top Five Hitters’ Parks

1. AT&T; Park (Giants)
San Francisco, California                                                                                           -13.33% Ballpark Factor

AT&T Park is known as one of the most picturesque venues in baseball since it opened in 2000, but hitters have found its beauty to be akin to that of a siren, as balls that would be home runs in other parks meet their dooms in the expansive outfield.

The dimensions of AT&T make it a brutal setting for hitters on both the left and right sides of the plate. Lefties in particular have it rough, as stadium designers honored Willie Mays with a 25-foot wall on the right side. In order to launch a ball into McCovey Cove, where canoe paddlers often wait for mammoth home runs, hitters have to clear that massive obstacle, and it happens at just a 68 percent clip relative to the league average. Making matters worse, the wall is angled sharply out to a 399-foot center field, meaning the 309-foot distance to the pole helps little. Right-handed hitters have no such obstruction but still face a hefty 339-foot journey just to get to the pole.

Hot summer temperatures typically make the dog days of the season a hitter’s dream since hot, dry air makes the ball fly farther. But San Francisco offers little in the way of that, as it just doesn’t get very hot there, and the city’s location on the bay makes for plenty of moisture.

The only saving grace for hitters is that the expansive outfield makes it a haven for triples, with just four parks allowing them more often. Speed, rather than power, is the offensive tool of choice at AT&T.

2. Petco Park (Padres)
San Diego, California                                                                                                -11.33% Ballpark Factor

Even moving the fences in a few years back, though it helped some, hasn’t swayed the deserved reputation of Petco as prime pitchers’ territory.

Built in 2004, Petco’s cavernous outfield is a big reason hitters struggle there. It’s 336 feet out to the left field pole, and right-handed batters only find themselves clearing the eight-foot fence 82 percent as often as the league average. The fence-moving after 2012 made things a bit friendlier for lefty power bats, as it’s a more manageable 322 feet to the pole. Thanks to that, left-handed home run hitters have actually hit more home runs than league average the past few years. Doubles, however, are suppressed heavily across the board — Petco is tied for dead last in doubles factor.

As with San Francisco, the weather also conspires against hitters in San Diego. In this case, though plenty of warm weather hits Southern California, it’s the famed “marine layer” that does the deed for Mother Nature. The marine layer is a thick blanket of cool moisture that rolls in from the ocean over the city after dusk, and it significantly hinders a baseball’s flight, particularly during the cooler spring months.

So while Petco is always a spot where pitching plays up, spring night games are particularly friendly to hurlers.

3. Tropicana Field (Rays)
St. Petersburg, Florida                                                                                           -10% Ballpark Factor

The last fixed-roof dome left in MLB, Tropicana Field’s flat, drab turf is an eyesore. The stadium dates to 1990, preceding the franchise that now calls it home by eight years.

Tropicana’s outfield poles are located at relatively standard distances of 315 feet in left and 322 feet in right, but both fences angle sharply toward a 400-foot center field that’s squared off widely, making it a very deep outfield. Furthermore, the walls are 11 feet high for most of the outfield, which makes it a little tougher to clear than most stadiums, where the standard is eight feet. The stadium’s overall home factor isn’t that bad because of the short poles, but it’s tied for last in MLB in doubles factor.

Another feature of the Trop that makes it quite pitcher-friendly is a place that’s inhabited by pitchers — the bullpens. The foul grounds, which are already pretty large in the area around home plate, are home to a bullpen for each team outside the foul lines past third and first bases. That keeps the foul territory quite wide on both sides, meaning balls that are normally out of play in many venues become free outs.

4. Citi Field (Mets)
New York, New York                                                                                            -9.33% Ballpark Factor

The fourth-newest stadium in MLB, Citi Field opened in 2009. The transition from Shea Stadium just moved the Mets to a newer, shinier park that was pitcher-friendly just like the old one.

One interesting factor that jumps right off the page when looking at Citi Field is that it’s actually an above-average park when it comes to home run factor, with right-handed batters clearing the fences eight percent more often than league average. Doubles, however, occur less frequently than any other park, and only seven parks see less triples.

The fences are only eight feet all the way around, but the outfield itself is quite expansive, particularly in center field, left-center, and right-center. The center-field fence is 408 feet out, and to get an idea of how far out the power alleys are, look no further than the renovation decision the Mets made heading into the 2015 season. That’s when they brought the right-center field fence in to 380 feet. Further making life difficult on batters is the cold weather in New York early and late in the season, plus there’s a rather wide foul ground in the backstop and a little past both first and third.

5. Angel Stadium (Angels)
Anaheim, California                                                                                   -9.33% Ballpark Factor

Another California venue makes it three in the top five for pitchers. Angel Stadium was built decades ago and renovated in 1997 to its current specs.

A sizable outfield again helps fly ball pitchers keep some extra batted balls in the park. Angel Stadium is a full 330 feet out to both poles, and lefties in particular struggle there due to an 18-foot scoreboard that’s located square in the middle of the power alley in right-center. It covers almost all of right field and makes left-handed home runs 18 percent more scarce than the league average. Only four parks see less home runs, and only three see less doubles overall.

The weather also conspires against hitters, as the same Pacific marine layer that comes in to San Diego to thwart them affects games in Angel Stadium. Hot day games in the summer can see the ball carry, but when that marine layer hits, Angel Stadium becomes a pitcher’s ally.

Full Ballpark Rankings

Field                                                                      Park Factor
1. AT&T Park (Giants)                                       -13.33%
2. Petco Park (Padres)                                       -11.33%
3. Tropicana Field (Rays)                                  -10%
4. Citi Field (Mets)                                              -9.33%
5. Angel Stadium (Angels)                                 -9.33%
6. Dodger Stadium (Dodgers)                           -8.67%
7. Progressive Field (Indians)                           -6.67%
8. PNC Park (Pirates)                                          -6%
9. O.co Coliseum (Athletics)                              -6%
10. Busch Stadium (Cardinals)                         -4.67%
11. Safeco Field (Mariners)                                 -4%
12. Turner Field (Braves)                                    -2%
13. Minute Maid Park (Astros)                         -0.67%
14. Nationals Park (Nationals)                         +0%
15. Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)                      +0.67%
16. Target Field (Twins)                                     +1.33%
17. Marlins Park (Marlins)                                 +2%
18. Great American Ballpark (Reds)                +2%
19. Kauffman Stadium (Royals)                       +2.67%
20. Comerica Park (Tigers)                               +4%
21. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Orioles)    +4.67%
22. Miller Park (Brewers)                                  +4.67%
23. Wrigley Field (Cubs)                                    +5.33%
24. Rogers Center (Blue Jays)                           +5.33%
25. Yankee Stadium (Yankees)                          +6%
26. Fenway Park (Red Sox)                                +8%
27. Chase Field (Diamondbacks)                      +8%
28. U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox)                  +8%
29. Global Life Park (Rangers)                          +12%
30. Coors Field (Rockies)                                   +33%

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