Handicapping MLB's best 'hitters' ballparks

Jul 18, 2013 |
The MLB All-Star break presents the perfect opportunity to study the first half of the baseball season in search of key statistics and trends that can serve as a handicapping guide for the rest of the year.

Some of the most telling stats revolve around how each of the 30 MLB ballparks held up against the hitters it faced. While there are many different factors that help make a “hitters’ park”, the proof of which ones where truly the best still lie in the numbers.

There are a number of different ways to measure ballparks in terms of whether or not they were favorable to hitters, but the top statistic is its OPS. This is a combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage that measures the ability to get on base as well as hitting for power.

Through the first half of the season the Top 5 hitters’ ballparks according to OPS were as follows:

1. Fenway Park, Boston - .772
2.  Rogers Centre, Toronto - .766
3. Coors Field, Colorado - .764
4. Comerica Park, Detroit - .762
5. Miller Park, Milwaukee - .757

It’s no big surprise that Fenway tops this list as that has always been known as a hitters’ park. It also helps when the home team is ranked first in the majors in runs scored with 498 through 97 games. The Red Sox are also ranked first overall in OPS at .793.

Comerica Park’s high OPS has also aided by the hitting power of its tenant. The Tigers are ranked second in the Majors with an OPS of .785. They are the second-highest scoring team in MLB with an average of 5.08 runs per game.

The best pure hitters’ park on this list would probably be Miller Park in Milwaukee, considering that the hometown Brewers are ranked 14th in the majors in OPS at .714 and ranked 23rd in scoring with an average of 3.9 runs a game.

If you just want to rank a hitters’ park on slugging percentage alone then the Rogers Centre would move to the top of the list with a SLG of .445. The Blue Jays are ranked sixth overall in slugging percentage at .416, and their team OPS is .732. Fenway ranks second in slugging percentage at .438, and Coors Field is tied with Camden Yards in Baltimore for third with a SLG of .434.

Some people like to equate a hitters’ park with the number of home runs it has given up. Camden Yards would be at the top of this list after yielding 138 homers so far this year. This number has been greatly aided by the fact that the Orioles have accounted for 132 of these blasts through 96 games.

Another good measure of what constitutes a good hitters’ park is a team’s over/under. While this may have little to do with actual baseball statistics and is more a measure of how the oddsmakers set the line, it still provides a valuable handicapping tool for predicting future results.

The final score has gone over in 51 of Detroit’s first 94 games - 54 3 percent. This stands to reason considering that the Tigers are one of the best hitting teams in baseball. A few other teams that have been profitable on the total in terms of games going over the total are not necessarily known for their hitting ability.

The total has gone over in 53.1 percent of Philadelphia and San Diego’s 96 games so far. While the Phillies could be considered a middle-of-the-road team when it comes to OPS and slugging percentage, the Padres remain one of the worst overall hitting teams in the majors.

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