The Coors Field Effect

Eighty-one. That’s the number of home games played at Coors Field each MLB season. For some DFS players, it’s a dream come true. Coors Field is a hitter’s paradise, where even mediocre journeymen can have career games with help from the altitude. For other DFS players, it’s a complete nightmare. Prices are jacked up, star pitchers are rendered useless in the thin air ballpark, and countless runs are scored that can potentially drag down your team if you don’t have a piece of the game.

As we begin to deal with the Coors Field Effect in this 2017 season, I decided to dig into some of the data from last year. Most of my articles are simply extensions of my own curiosity, and I’m just sharing my results.

There’s a couple of things I need to address. The first is that I’m going to only be focused on data from 2016. This allows us to key in on the most recent numbers where rosters are most similar. The second is that I acknowledge that by only focusing on an 81-game sample, we’re working with a smaller set of data than if I had pulled, say, three years worth of data. The obvious next question then is: are these findings actionable and predictive? In other words, can I use these findings to help me make better DFS decisions and ultimately make more money. I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t know. It’s probably not the answer you were looking for but baseball is such a variance-driven sport that what we find in the 2016 MLB season may be completely different than what happens in the 2017 season. That’s the beauty of the game, but I do think there can be some lessons drawn from here.

I’m going to frame this article by asking a few questions I had going in regarding Coors Field, and then sharing my findings. Let’s dig in!

What Were The Average Game Totals At Coors Field In 2016?

On average, the game total at Coors Field was 12.1. By game total, I mean the sum of both team’s runs that were actually scored (so if the Rockies won 6-5, the game total is 11). Keep in mind I’m talking about actual totals and not Vegas-implied totals.

I then wanted to look into how many runs the Rockies scored at Coors over the course of 81 games. I created a distribution chart that shows how many runs they scored at home on the X-Axis, and how many games in 2016 that occurred on the Y-Axis. What I found is that of their 81 games, they scored 0-3 runs in 20 games, or roughly 25% of their home games. You’ll notice there’s a pretty big cluster of games where they scored between 4-8 runs, which is not bad but again, you’re paying a premium for these Rockies hitters. In 14 of their 81 games, they scored 10+ runs, which is fairly impressive because that’s the type of output that will win you a GPP. In one instance, they even put up 17 runs against the lowly Cincinnati Reds pitching. If you’re wondering, the Rockies averaged 6.27 runs per game at home.

I then ran the same analysis for the road team. Road teams averaged 5.89 runs at Coors. A few things stood out to me in the road team distribution. One is that there were a few more instances at the tail ends. There were actually 3 games where the road team got shut out. On the other end of the spectrum, the road team had a larger number of games where they put up 10+ runs compared to the Rockies.

How Often Did Coors Outscore Other Games On The Same Slate?

Next, I looked at how Coors games compared to the other games on the same slate. I’ll admit there are a lot of different ways to look at this, so I took a few approaches. I first looked at how many times a Coors game had the highest game total out of all games on that day. What I was trying to understand was the opportunity cost of fading Coors.

An example of this was on April 24, 2016. The Dodgers beat the Rockies 12-10 at Coors. But on that same day, the Pirates beat the Diamondbacks 12-10 in a game that featured 35 total hits. On most days a 22-run game at Coors would mean you’re pretty much dead if you had no exposure to the game but if you had stacked that 12-10 Pirates/Diamondbacks game, you might actually be in better shape because it featured 4x more home runs than the Coors game.

What I found was that of the 81 Coors slates, the Coors game had the highest game total only 14 times. In other words, 17% of the time last year when Coors was on the slate, it ended up with the highest game total. To flip that around, that’s saying on Coors slates, there was a game that ended with a higher total 83% of the time. If you can find a way to identify those games that go off and have less exposure, there’s your edge.

Another thing I looked at was of the 81 Coors slates, how many times was there a non-Coors team that scored 10+ runs. I found that in 61 of those 81 Coors slates, there was a team who scored 10+ runs outside of Coors. That’s a staggering 75% of the time a team was going off that wasn’t playing in Colorado. We tend to focus so much on Coors that we often neglect the fact other teams are in just as good (or better spots) to put up runs.

There’s plenty more I can dig into but in conclusion, the takeaway for me while doing this analysis is to not be afraid of fading Coors. Are there times you should bite the bullet and pay up? Absolutely – that’s going to be dictated by pricing, matchups, injuries, whether you’re playing cash games or GPPs, other games on the slate, etc. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule because every day is going to be different. I know how scary it is to fade Coors or feel like you don’t have enough exposure to it, but don’t lose sight of the other games on the slate.

You can find me on Twitter here. Feel free to reach out anytime or leave me thoughts below. Thanks for reading.

About the Author

  • Allan Lem (fathalpert)

  • Allan Lem (aka “fathalpert”) began playing fantasy sports in high school and transitioned to DFS in 2015. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics and lives in California with his wife and two kids. Allan got his break in the industry covering Preseason NBA content and has since helped with NBA, Summer League, MLB, and Preseason NFL content as well as overseeing the RotoGrinders blog program. He dreams of winning a big tournament so he can try cashing one of those giant cardboard checks at his local bank. You can follow Allan on Twitter @allanlemdfs.

Comments

  • mewhitenoise

    RG Contributor

    • Blogger of the Month

    Fantastic.

  • delt459

    Great write up.

  • JustRaze

    Great stuff. This is what I love about baseball, the variance is so great that chalk is always way overowned their actual expectation. Great to see solid math behind those intuitions.

  • achango

    I love this, you are so right. Coors field makes you forget that there are other hitters on the slate. Tonight is actually a good example of this, but it is only relevant on the All Day slates in both major sites, you might be better taking Lefty Hitting Cubs against Nelson in a ball bark that may not be as friendly as Coors, but Miller Park does give lefties a slight advantage over the rest of the batters not playing in Coors.

    I would glady take Schwarber over Blackmon tonight, but a lot of people will be on all the bats in Coors, especially Puig after his hot start.

  • Corsey

    Great read really really good work here! Wow!

  • Corsey

    @achango said...

    I love this, you are so right. Coors field makes you forget that there are other hitters on the slate. Tonight is actually a good example of this, but it is only relevant on the All Day slates in both major sites, you might be better taking Lefty Hitting Cubs against Nelson in a ball bark that may not be as friendly as Coors, but Miller Park does give lefties a slight advantage over the rest of the batters not playing in Coors.

    I would glady take Schwarber over Blackmon tonight, but a lot of people will be on all the bats in Coors, especially Puig after his hot start.

    This is true too. Information may lean towards all day slates

  • slyboog1202

    Great research…

  • CJtheGrump

    My 1 game sample says this is all overrated and overblown. Well, it’s more than one game, it’s several times last year too.

    I’ve seen this happen enough that it gives me pause in punting several positions just to have exposure to Coors.

    I understand all the reasons for increased production but the real skill is finding a reason for duds like yesterday. Maybe unfamiliarity with pitchers played a role. Maybe hitters get psyched up and try to blast a 600 foot home run because “it’s Coors, bro”. I’d be willing to accept the idea that there’s an adjustment period and you want to fade a team in the first game of a Coors series.

    There is a certain type of pitcher who does well – someone who is good at changing speeds, inducing weak ground balls, and has impeccable command. Research should help identify these pitchers so you can avoid trying to pick on them even though it’s a Coors game.

    DK is ridiculous with its pricing to the point where it’s really not fun. I don’t think the increased potential for offensive output really warrants paying 5.2K for DJ LeMahieu or 6K for Blackmon (which may happen this year).

  • Cameron

    RG Co-Founder

    • 2014 FanDuel NFL Survivor Champion

    • 2016 RG Season Long Champion: NFL

    Thanks Allan! Great write up

  • brianupton20

    super good article thanks

  • Immaculate

    “What I found was that of the 81 Coors slates, the Coors game had the highest game total only 14 times. 17% of the time last year when Coors was on the slate, it ended up with the highest game total.”

    On the surface this 17% figure seems to be insignificant but you have to remember: On average, there were probably about 12 MLB games (maybe more) on any given day. That means the Coors game should have had high score only about 8% of the time, half of what actually happened, lending credence to the “Coors Field effect”.

    Another major factor left out completely in this analysis is what effect the Coors-day pricing has on the DFS equation, especially the padding of the player salaries on DK. Do the inflated salaries of the Coors Field players mean there is a corresponding decrease in the posted salaries (DK specifically) for the players in the other games, and, if so, could using this information lead to an edge for a DFS player? Would the edge hold up in all types of contests, or mostly in the multi-player GPP’s?

    I believe to really get a handle on the Coors effect an inclusion of DFS contest results will need to be merged into the discussion somehow. It would be great if you could continue your analysis and cover some of these questions in the future. Thank you for diving in. A thorough examination of Coors Field days has been long overdue.

  • teachmehowto

    • Blogger of the Month

    Thanks! and especially with this young pitching staff and a lock down closer. Fading Coors this year may be more profitable than ever.

  • PokerRoman1

    Great article. Thanks, Allan.

  • lastplace

    When a weak team with bad pitching visits Coors Field I like to have at least one lineup with stacks from both teams, like this week with San Diego coming to town.

  • fathalpert

    • Moderator

    • Blogger of the Month

    @Immaculate said...

    I believe to really get a handle on the Coors effect an inclusion of DFS contest results will need to be merged into the discussion somehow. It would be great if you could continue your analysis and cover some of these questions in the future.

    Thank you for all the comments and feedback, it’s much appreciated.

    @Immaculate – regarding your comment on continuing my research to include results, this was something I did consider but didn’t include in this article due to time. If there’s interest, I’d be more than happy to explore this in a follow-up article later this year where I can even start to include 2017 results and try to understand what Perfect Lineups look like for Coors Field slates.

  • bstreich9

    This is a great piece of work. Some very interesting statistical findings.

  • zef204

    Awesome write up. Thanks for taking the time both to research and share!

  • Vicar

    Very nice take on Coors. FYI Do not fade DJ LeMahieu when it’s a Coors slate he is a BB, Runs, hitting machine there and he will almost always pay off his salary.

  • zachlowry

    Last year (on another site) there was an article addressing Coors field. In that article they made the case that the first game in a Coors series is usually lower scoring that the remaining games. Could you look at that angle? Do you think players need time to adjust to the altitude? Thanks.

  • fathalpert

    • Moderator

    • Blogger of the Month

    @zachlowry said...

    Last year (on another site) there was an article addressing Coors field. In that article they made the case that the first game in a Coors series is usually lower scoring that the remaining games. Could you look at that angle? Do you think players need time to adjust to the altitude? Thanks.

    Hi Zach, thanks for the comment! I’ll definitely consider this angle if I do a follow-up piece on Coors.

  • soundofsilence

    Good piece, I’d be interested in an analysis of hr frequency. Or average fd/dk per pa.

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