Some say Wade Boggs would've never made it to the Hall of Fame had he not played at Fenway. Others might say last year's AL MVP Dustin Pedroia wouldn't have been MVP if it wasn't for the "green monster."
Meanwhile, the air around Coors Field in Colorado is said to be like no other in the major leagues. Being within walking distance from where their former shared home with the Denver Broncos used to be, it's no surprise it was known as "Mile High Stadium." Baseballs simply feel and travel differently in Denver.
Ask any Texas Rangers' fan and they'll tell you they're a pitcher away from making the playoffs. Did you ever wonder if there's something in Arlington scaring away quality pitchers? Maybe it's true, maybe the hot and humid weather in Arlington, Texas is helping tightly stitched major league baseballs find their way to the bleacher seats?
From Boston to Denver, and down to the south in Arlington. Something seems to be benefiting hitters in each of these ballparks, more so then seems to be the norm.
After gaining 3,000 career hits; Boggs became a lock for the Hall of Fame. How much did playing for the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park benefit the twelve-time All-Star? Quite simply, a lot! To the tune of a phenomenal .369 batting average.
Every other ballpark? .306. While still good, he never would've been able to accumulate 3,000 career hits without the help of over 3,800 plate appearances in Fenway Park.
Fast forward to 2008 AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia. Over the course of Pedroia's short career, he's batting .339 at home and noticeably less on the road; to the tune of 51 points, at .288.
No one is saying Dustin Pedroia is Hall of Fame material, but the parallels to Wade Boggs are there. Both clearly having benefited from beginning their careers in a Boston Red Sox uniform.
How about Coors Field or the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? Are these the modern-day versions of a hitters' dream?
Let's look at modern-day examples starting with Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Last season, American League RBI leader and Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton batted an entire eighty-two points higher at home then on the road, .345 versus .263.
And while the home versus away discrepancies of Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock, and Michael Young aren't as evident—they still manage to add evidence that Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is padding hitters' stats.
- In three seasons - Ian Kinsler—.321 at home vs .259 away - (+.62)
- In seven seasons - Hank Blalock—.306 at home vs .244 away - (+.62)
- In nine seasons - Michael Young—.322 at home vs .279 away - (+.43)
Let's switch from a stadium notorious for hosting games with temperatures in the 90s to a completely different climate. The high and dry air of Denver, Colorado—Coors Field.
Only two teams in major league baseball have ever boasted three hitters to clear the 40-home run plateau in the same season. The 1973 Atlanta Braves and the Colorado Rockies—twice, '96 and '97.
It quickly became apparent during these early days in Coors Field that something was different. Baseballs were traveling out of the ballpark in Denver way more often then any other National League city.
Hitters such as Ellis Burks, Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, and Vinny Castilla had noticeable career years playing for Denver but faltered elsewhere. This leads me into Matt Holliday; who was involved in a trade which sent him to Oakland during the off-season.
During his five seasons playing in Coors field, he posted a .357 average, everywhere else? A more "normalized" .280. That's a different of .77 points!
Here's a current Denver Rockies' players who've benefited from the thin air:
- In six seasons - Garrett Atkins—.337 at home vs .260 away - (+.77)
- In six seasons - Clint Barmes—.298 at home vs .228 away - (+.70)
- In 12 seasons - Todd Helton—.362 at home vs .294 away - (+.68)
We have factual data that Coors Field in Denver and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington significantly skew stats in the favor of the offense.
For the season ahead, I would make a few assumptions. First, I'm going to bet that Matt Holliday bats more towards .280—his career average outside of Coors Field, then his .357 inside it. Second, based on the above data, the aforementioned hitters will continue to significantly perform better at their home stadiums.
And third, if you're an up and coming pitcher who wants to make a name for yourself in the bigs, you'd have an easier time doing it outside of Boston, Arlington, or Denver.