Cody Ross Heads West

On Saturday, Cody Ross signed with the Diamondbacks, creating a crowded outfield situation in Arizona. Given that they are paying him nearly $9 million per year, it suggests that a Jason Kubel or Justin Upton trade is imminent. Sending Adam Eaton down to the minors is another option, but that seems unlikely. Assuming that Ross has a full-time job in the outfield, this is how the the switch in ball parks should affect his performance.

Here are the relevant park factors for right-handed hitters:

  K 1B HR Runs
Fenway Park 92 104 111 119
Chase Field 99 101 114 114

Fenway Park reduced strikeouts this season, while Chase Field was fairly neutral. Looking at Ross’ splits, his contact rate was significantly better at home. So the park switch is going to hurt him. However, his strikeout rate jumped this year, sitting much higher than in past years. So the more likely scenario is that his strikeout rate declines, and that would have happened no matter where he played. But all else equal, the park switch will be a negative in terms of making contact.

The Green Monster in Fenway is a great place to smash hits off of. As a result, the park typically inflates singles and BABIP for right-handed hitters. It plays a little more friendly than Chase Field and so Ross should see a small reduction in BABIP as a result of the park switch.

Home runs in Fenway Park have typically been hurt by the high wall in left field, which is offset by the shorter distance. Putting those together, the home run park factor has typically been around neutral. This year, however, the park gave a surprising boost to right-handed home runs. Sure enough, Ross did post a higher HR/FB ratio at home this year than in away parks. Arizona has always increased righty homers and in past years would have made for a favorable switch coming from Fenway. But that isn’t the case based on 2012, as the impact isn’t significant. Still, Ross should see a small boost in HR/FB ratio.

Something was clearly in the water this year in Boston, because there runs park factor is also off the charts. As mentioned earlier, the Green Monster makes it easy to bang hits off the wall, and doubles are easier to come by. So Ross should lose a bit off his non-home run extra-base hits, making him slightly less productive in real baseball.

In any other year, Ross would probably see a boost in fantasy value from the park switch. But strictly comparing 2012, Fenway Park played unusually hitter friendly and Ross might therefore see a slight decline in overall offensive performance.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod’s Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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