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Edwin Jackson Heads to the Windy City

Yesterday, the Cubs officially inked Edwin Jackson to a four-year contract. Good for Edwin, now he has a chance to actually be with one team for four seasons. In just 10 seasons in the Majors, he has been with a whopping 7 different teams! Let’s see how the move from Washington to Chicago might affect him.

Here are the relevant 2012 park factors:

Wrigley Field 100 102 107 110 100 99 107 91 103 96
Nationals Park 92 93 84 91 100 106 106 96 98 100

Wrigley Field’s affect on strikeouts is relatively neutral. However, Jackson is coming from a park that suppressed strikeouts last year, so he should benefit. Of course, Jackson is actually coming off a career best K/9, but a a fantastic SwStk% that ranked second in baseball suggests that rate should have been even better. Oddly, the spike occurred despite a loss of a mile per hour on his fastball and without any real changes in his pitch mix, one wonders what caused it in the first place. I would be the SwStk% surge to be a fluke and Jackson to post another strikeout rate in the mid-to-high 7.0 range.

Unfortunately, along with the boost he would get in strikeouts strictly from park effects, Wrigley also increases walks. Control is something he has struggled with in the past, though over the past four seasons, has really gotten those issues under, ahem, control. It wasn’t until this past year that he pushed his F-Strike% above the league average, so I’m not sure how sustainable a sub-3.00 walk rate even was. Now he’s at risk of seeing it inch toward 3.0 again given the park switch.

Jackson’s BABIP has jumped all over the place throughout his career. As a perfect example of just how much luck is involved in the metric, his 2011 mark was an inflated .330, but then it declined dramatically to just .278 last season. Obviously, he didn’t learn how to prevent hits on balls in play overnight. Nationals Park increased singles by left-handed batters, but was neutral for right-handers, while Wrigley was neutral for both. He should see no impact on his BABIP from the switch.

When the wind is blowing out, Wrigley Field is a pitcher’s nightmare. But, that doesn’t happen all the time, obviously, so the park isn’t a home run haven. It does boost right-handed home runs, but did so to the same degree as Nationals Park last year. It actually decreased left-handed home runs, and more so than Nationals Park did. Overall, Jackson will likely see limited impact on his HR/FB ratio from the move.

Overall, Wrigley Field increases offense a bit for righties and decreases it slightly for lefties, while Nationals Parks is closer to neutral. Jackson’s strikeout rate should benefit from the move, but his walk rate could take a hit, while his other metrics shouldn’t be affected. As a result, the park switch should not alter Jackson’s fantasy value any.