Triples in Texas

When you get waist deep into park factors you can discover some really odd quirks that you never expected. Lately I have been looking at the frequency of events at certain parks compared to when that park’s home team played on the road and one of the ratios – triples in Texas — stuck out to me.

Intrigued, I investigated the home and away splits for the Texas Rangers since 2007 and found that indeed there seems to be something going on with the Ballpark in Arlington that promotes triples. Starting from 2007 and going through 2010 to date, the Texas Rangers hitters have hit 25, 24, 18 and 2 triples while at home. Contrast that to 11, 11, 9 and just one triple while on the road. All told, that is 69 triples while at home and 32 while on the road.

That’s not a small or insignificant split, that’s gigantic. I’m also not sure what’s causing it. Generally, you expect parks that are favorable to triples to have gigantic outfields and weather patterns that inhibit home runs to keep more balls in the park, but deep toward far away walls. Arlington certainly does not fit that model given it’s notoriety for allowing home runs and it’s roughly average depth to the walls.

I’m curious to hear people’s theories. Is it because the ground gets dried out in the summer heat, making balls run faster like if they were on Astroturf? Maybe there is something with the outfield dimensions in Texas that invites triples? Or maybe there is something with the road parks the Rangers play in that suppresses them?

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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