Gonzalez Loves Mountains; Headley Hates Beaches

Well, actually I have no idea if Carlos Gonzalez loves the mountains or if Chase Headley hates the beach, but if my home/road splits looked like their’s, I would certainly start to appreciate/blame the topography.

Many have pointed out how dramatic a split young Carlos Gonzalez possess — at home in Colorado, he’s an elite swing sultan; away from where the beer flows like wins, he is a pedestrian, league-average bat-swinger. Yeah, we get it. Everyone knows, right?

Well, the split is perhaps more dramatic than initially anticipated. Looking at players in the last decade (from 2001 through 2011) with a minimum of 500 home and 500 away PAs, we see CarGo has hit a wRC+ 74 points higher at home than away — more than anyone else in the period:

In other words, no one compares to Carlos Gonzalez… Okay, well, actually one guy does.

And it makes a world of difference.

Before the CarGo Era, there was the Matt Holliday Era. Matt Holliday had a wRC+ 66 points higher in the Rockies during his tenure with Colorado. Then, he got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and continued to mash like he never left Colorado.

What does this mean? Hellifiknow. But it certainly means that being a product of Coors Field doesn’t necessarily make a body a bad player. Perhaps it helped make a young Holliday look better than he really was, and then when he became an even better player, we just didn’t notice. Who knows?

In the meantime, San Diego Padres hitters must be just about sick of the west coast life. Chase Headley and a pair of other Padres have seen their wRC+ absolutely bottom out in PETCO Caverns Park.

Here’s the top 9 and bottom 9 (why 9? Because I’m feeling frisky) home/road split differences for 2001 through 2011 (min. 500 PAs both home and away):

Name Team PA BB% K% HR% wRC+ wRC+ Diff
Carlos Gonzalez COL 1495 8% 21% 4.9% 138 74
Alfonso Soriano TEX 1340 5% 18% 4.8% 107 71
Matt Holliday COL 2968 8% 17% 4.3% 134 66
Luke Scott BAL 1795 11% 20% 4.7% 115 62
Nelson Cruz TEX 2077 8% 22% 5.1% 115 58
Scott Hatteberg CIN 1017 13% 8% 2.3% 111 54
Ian Kinsler TEX 3446 10% 12% 3.6% 119 54
Frank Thomas CHW 1730 16% 18% 5.8% 137 52
Justin Upton ARI 2402 10% 24% 3.8% 119 50
Felipe Lopez WAS 1354 9% 16% 1.0% 78 -33
Dmitri Young DET 1976 7% 19% 4.1% 115 -34
D’Angelo Jimenez CIN 1102 12% 15% 1.7% 98 -35
Miguel Tejada OAK 1418 6% 11% 4.3% 121 -35
Xavier Nady PIT 1050 6% 18% 3.4% 116 -35
Adrian Gonzalez SDP 3425 12% 18% 4.7% 135 -35
Omar Infante DET 1732 6% 18% 1.8% 79 -36
Khalil Greene SDP 2642 7% 20% 3.2% 93 -36
Chase Headley SDP 2114 10% 22% 1.7% 108 -37



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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.


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Kyle H
Member
Kyle H

Wow A-Gonz had a negative split at home? Would love to see why, considering he was hitting in Fenway…

Resolution
Guest
Resolution

It’s 2001-2011. That’s his PetCo data you’re seeing

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu

Not only is this 2001-2011, these numbers are split by team, and the Gonzalez numbers on the chart only include his time with San Diego.

But, Bradley, if your goal is to find guys who just have some innate skill at hitting better home/away, then you shouldn’t split by team, and expand your sample size cutoff to something more significant. If you did that, I’d think Adrian Beltre would lead the pack.

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