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How Will Latos Pitch in Cincinnati?
Posted By Chris Cwik On December 19, 2011 @ 9:15 am In Starting Pitchers | 6 Comments
There’s no place like home. No one knows this more than Mat Latos, who called the cavernous Petco Park his home over the last three and a half seasons. That all changed on Saturday, as Latos was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for a bevy of prospects. While Latos has shown flashes of greatness in the past, we’ve seen Petco Park make pitchers look substantially better than they deserve. With Latos moving to one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the National League, how much can we expect him to regress?
At look at Latos’ career splits shows that he may not have experienced any benefit from pitching at Petco. While he pitched slightly better at home, the difference is miniscule. Nearly all of Latos’ peripherals remained consistent no matter where he was pitching. Shockingly, Latos’ HR/FB% was actually higher at Petco than it was on the road (8.3 to 7.8). As Dave Cameron pointed out in his piece on this subject, Latos has actually thrown more innings on the road over his career than at home (244.1 to 185.1). Considering those factors, it seems unlikely that Latos really benefitted from pitching in Petco.
That’s only half the equation, however. Latos may have been the same pitcher in any venue, but Great American Ball Park is typically unforgiving to pitchers. According to ESPN’s park factors, Great American Ball Park allowed home runs at the third highest rate in all of baseball. Petco, on the other hand, ranked 23rd.
A deeper look at the park factors (using StatCorner.com), reveals similar findings. Against lefties, GABP has a home run park factor of 120. Against righties, that number jumps to 133. That’s quite a difference compared to Petco’s numbers in the category — 59 for lefties and 95 for righties. Thankfully, Latos doesn’t really struggle with home run. While his career 0.82 HR/9 rate isn’t spectacularly low, it’s also proof that he’s not going to turn into Bronson Arroyo next season.
If Latos does pitch worse in his new ball park, those struggles could be offset by his new team. The San Diego Padres are not going to be very good next season, and that would likely limited Latos’ ability to rack up a high win total. If he pitches like he did last season, there’s no way Latos only wins nine games with the Reds.
Changing divisions shouldn’t hurt Latos much either. While he probably enjoyed pitching against the San Francisco Giants and the LA Dodgers last season, those teams are now replaced by the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Considering all the factors, Latos’s value should probably remain stable in fantasy leagues. He may be moving to a tougher park, but he’s proven that he can succeed no matter where he pitches. On top of that, moving to the Reds should increase his chances at racking up wins — an opportunity he wasn’t going to have on the Padres. While his ERA might rise slightly, Latos’ peripherals will likely make him an incredibly valuable pitcher next season. Don’t be afraid of the new ball park, Latos’ game will work anywhere.
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