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Oswalt in Philadelphia

It looks like Roy Oswalt is on his way to Philadelphia today, and enterprising fantasy managers facing a trade deadline of their own probably want to know what the implications are for their fantasy team. Let’s take a look.

First, the park move is negligible. According to StatCorner, Minute Maid park boosts home runs for lefties 6% and righties 18% – but the Phillies’ home park boosts home runs 16% for lefties and a whopping 22% for righties. If he starts tomorrow as he is scheduled to do, Oswalt is on pace to make starts against the Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Nationals (twice) at home in Philadelphia. He averages about 6.45 fly balls per start, so that’s about 32 fly balls, of which 10% would normally leave the park. Boost 3.2 home runs by about 5-9%, and you get somewhere between 3.36 and 3.48 home runs. This might (*might*) mean a home run extra over those five starts combined. The change in home parks is not a big deal, at least for 2010.

What will look better for Oswalt this year are his future competitors. Should the schedule line up correctly with Oswalt starting tomorrow, this is what he is looking at: @WAS, @FLA, LAD, SF, WAS, @SD, @LAD, FLA, @NYM, WAS, NYM, @WAS. Sign me up for some of that please.

Oswalt is currently showing the best strikeout rate of his career (8.37 K/9) and one of the worst groundball rates of his career (43%, 47.4% career) – and is also using the changeup the most he ever has (11.7%, 6.0% career). This is no coincidence. Going off of Harry Pavlidis’ benchmarks for pitch types this year, the changeup gets one of the better whiff percentages in the pantheon of pitches (only splitters and sliders average more whiffs). The lower groundball rate may be attributed to his career-high usage of his slider (16.9%, 10.4% career), which only gets about 45% groundballs according to Pavlidis’ work.

In any case, the added focus on his off-speed stuff has suited Oswalt well. He’ll know have one of the best offenses in baseball behind him, so the 6-12 record should rectify itself, and the schedule lines up well for him during the stretch run. There is little-to-no downside to Oswalt pitching in Philadelphia, unless he insists on driving his tractor from Texas to Pennsylvania.