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.
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