Taking into account the Ballpark Factor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Most baseball fans intuitively know which major league baseball stadiums are friendly towards hitters and which are a pitchers' paradise.

And as a fantasy owner, we'd like our hitters to be in favorable situations as much as possible and our pitchers to pitch in the Grand Canyon.

Fortunately, like most everything else in baseball, there are formulas and statistics to determine the degree of "favorability."

We will use a relatively simple formula. You could get more complex, but the additional effort won't yield much of a change in order. It's the average runs scored and allowed at home divided by the average runs scored and allowed on the road.

A number above 1.000 means the ballpark is more favorable to the hitters and below that number is more favorable to pitchers. On our site, you will find a link to the MLB Ballpark Factor for the last four seasons.

What you will see is five ballparks which are listed in the top-10 in all four years - Coors Field, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Chase Field and Fenway Park.

What is interesting to note is how far above the rest, even the other good hitting parks, that the Colorado Rockies ballpark is. The Blake Street venue has been the No.1 hitters park over the past two seasons by a large margin.

This "factor" effects all hitters. The difference between former Rockies All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday in Colorado and Oakland was significant. In his seasons in Colorado, Holliday sported an OPS of .938 but in pitching- friendly Oakland that number sunk to 0.831.

And it can help make mediocre players into solid fantasy options. Kaz Matsui had a very good .779 OPS as a second basemen with the Rockies from 2006-07, but in Houston over the last three seasons that number is just .685.

How could knowing the "ballpark factor" help you in 2011?

Jose Lopez is just a year removed from a 25-HR, 96-RBI season in pitching- friendly Safeco Field (0.813 factor in 2010) and he'll be playing in Coors Field (1.364) this season. With an ADP hovering around 270 this spring, Lopez could be a late-round "steal."

Adam Dunn leaves Nationals Park (0.965) for U.S. Cellular Field (1.135) and his home run total should climb above his normal 38-40.

Adrian Gonzalez has finally gotten out of the hitting nightmare called Petco Park (0.882) and will play half his games in Fenway Park (1.083). I have him ranked as the No.3 fantasy first basemen this season behind only Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.

On the other hand, look at what a pitcher's park did to New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay in 2010. Over his career Bay has averaged 23+ homers a season with an OPS of .882. But last year in spacious Citi Field, he hit just six homers with an OPS of .749.

So beware of selecting a guy like Brad Hawpe this season. An All-Star with Colorado in 2009, his statistics will take a hit now that he's been signed by the San Diego Padres. Petco Park has been ranked as the worst hitters park in three of the past four seasons.

It's not the only factor to consider when it's time to make your selection, but you should certainly make it part of your decision-making process.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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