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  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    Ballparks are very clearly strongly tied to fantasy production. However, I actually think park factors – not parks themselves, but what we label ‘park factors’ – are overrated in daily fantasy baseball, and I feel kind of strongly about this. Here’s my reasoning…

    1. Park factors aren’t static.

    Parks are often assigned a value in terms of how hitter-friendly they are, but the reality is hitter-friendliness is changing all the time based on a variety of factors, such as weather, handedness, and so on. If you’re going to assign values to parks, you at the very least should be breaking it down by handedness; some parks play very well for righties and not so for lefties, or vice versa.

    2. It’s difficult to separate the park from the teams that play in it.

    Understanding the “true” hitter-friendliness of a park is much more challenging than people think. You have to properly control for the quality of the teams playing in the park (the home team and division rivals most of all), and doing that is not so easy.

    We know that Coors Field is a hitter’s park because the results are so extreme, but most parks are in the middle area.

    3. The middle ground is the worst place to be.

    I talk about this a lot in my books, but focusing on a metric that requires an extremely high level of precision isn’t the best idea; there are so many parks and such little difference between many of them (when analyzed on the whole) that we can’t really be certain the 7th-best park (one that we’d say is good for hitters) is really much better, or better at all, than the 17th-best park (one we might say is neutral or pitcher-friendly). Basically, I want to focus my attention on the tails, where I’m not going to get completely thrown off by small errors in assessment.

    4. We can replicate park factors in other ways.

    I mentioned weather, and those who know me know how much I use it (I even have an entire RotoAcademy course on it). Coors Field, as an example, is the “worst” park for hitters in terms of the actual dimensions, but clearly No. 1, due entirely to the altitude. The majority of what we consider park factors is simply a reflection of atmospheric conditions. If you don’t believe me, take a look at numbers in Globe Life – a notorious hitter’s park – when it isn’t extremely hot (like in April), or numbers at Safeco when there aren’t mild temperatures in Seattle.

    5. The crowd uses park factors.

    In tournaments, there’s a very strong correlation between ownership and the park in which a guy is playing (or, to be more specific, the narrative about that park). Some of them are justified – like Coors Field or Wrigley when the wind is blowing straight out – but others are not. PNC Park, for example, is one I don’t really think is specifically targeted, yet it’s offered pretty incredible value to hitters over the past few years. That’s because 1) it isn’t going to be directly priced into site salaries in the same way sites compensate for games at Coors, and 2) the crowd isn’t all over it. Even if PNC is a worse park for hitters than, say, Globe Life (which I’m not even sure is the case in many situations), I’m going to favor games at PNC if it means getting significantly reduced ownership.

    Basically, outside of the extremes, I think people place way too much emphasis on how much value there is in a static park factor number, particularly when we can arguably better predict hitter-friendliness using other means.

  • maxeernst

    I think the problem always becomes something akin to: “how much do you weigh whatever park factors may be in play vs. the other factors you are looking at.”

    This is really what models and projections come down to, right? Of course several people with the same information can come up with different results (perhaps wildly different results) depending on how much stock they attribute to each of the numerous variables.

    I like what you’re saying about utilizing perceived / misperceived / potentially insignificant park factors to pivot and grab some lower ownership, but I’m not sure how you can assert that the lower ownership you’re getting is because people relied on a park factor.

    ^^I’m not sure I’m being super clear—let me try again. If you say park factors that aren’t at the tails aren’t very significant, how can you make the assertion that they influence ownership enough to justify pivoting? Do you have a sample for the example you’re talking about (Glove Life / PNC)?

    EDIT: Baseball season really must be coming soon. Glove life—-that’s a good typo.

  • smallANDflaccid

    @maxeernst said...

    EDIT: Baseball season really must be coming soon. Glove life—-that’s a good typo.

    I didn’t choose the Glove Life, the Glove Life chose me.

  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @maxeernst said...

    I like what you’re saying about utilizing perceived / misperceived / potentially insignificant park factors to pivot and grab some lower ownership, but I’m not sure how you can assert that the lower ownership you’re getting is because people relied on a park factor.

    Admittedly anecdotal, though the park will be a component of Vegas, and everyone uses the lines to stack…which is smart when maximizing points, but maybe not (or still maybe) when maximizing win probability.

  • Storm

    Jon, do you know if the Home Run Weather app is ever getting an update? It no longer works for me on iOS9

  • jimmyrad

    @Jon Bales said...

    PNC Park, for example, is one I don’t really think is specifically targeted, yet it’s offered pretty incredible value to hitters over the past few years. That’s because 1) it isn’t going to be directly priced into site salaries in the same way sites compensate for games at Coors, and 2) the crowd isn’t all over it. Even if PNC is a worse park for hitters than, say, Globe Life (which I’m not even sure is the case in many situations), I’m going to favor games at PNC if it means getting significantly reduced ownership.

    Man I don’t think I could disagree with this any more. You want to play guys in a pitchers park because other factors line up, fine, I play hitters in all 30 parks all the time. That doesn’t make PNC any kind of “incredible value to hitters” though. From Fangraphs:

    PNC 2011-2015: 25/30 basic park factor (runs), 28/30 HR park factor

    PNC 2006-2010: 18/30 basic, 25/30 HR

    PNC is an incredible value to pitchers as one of the more extreme pitchers parks in MLB.

    “we can’t really be certain the 7th-best park (one that we’d say is good for hitters) is really much better, or better at all, than the 17th-best park”

    is also way off. I count 9 or 10 extreme hitters parks depending on if you still want to count Texas. Whatever park you rank 17th (Say LAD, or DET, or WASH, whatever) doesn’t come close to the worst of the big 10 hitters parks in aiding hitters.

  • srolleDFS

    APRIL FOOLS!

  • srolleDFS

    but seriously, i dont know how park factors are rated, so im not sure if they are over or underrated. but i do think they are super important. trying to play dfs without them is like trying to play dfs without considering the starting pitcher.

  • MTro86

    RG Writer

    I understand what you’re saying, but considering them is probably better than ignoring them and it’s incredibly difficult (impossible) to pick out each little individual caveat or idiosyncrasy in an effort to be flawless with this. For your example, PNC is fairly neutral to LH power, but death on RH power (I believe only St Louis might be worse), but guys like McCutchen and Marte seem to thrive there. Is it because they have different spray charts than a RH who might struggle more? There’s just not enough time in the day to do everything you want to do for a single day of daily fantasy baseball.

    For pitchers, I’m more likely to just use a general run scoring environment because they’ll likely be facing hitters from both sides (with some exceptions) and the way scoring is set up for pitchers, you aren’t really penalized enough to put in the effort to go beyond that anyway.

    One thing you do have to be careful about is when parks make change and you have little or no information, but think you do. Some of the more obvious ones (dimension changes) are easy enough to see, but what about like when something happens that changes the wind patterns, like in Texas. That place went from a banbox to a nearly neutral park for LHs and nobody even noticed.

    Historical park factors by month would be an awesome thing though, exactly for the reasons you mention. Safeco is much different in April than mid-summer. I’m guessing the same can be said about a few more west coast parks.

    I crammed this post in here quickly while doing two other things as well, so there’s probably a thing or two I’ve missed that might be important.

  • JMToWin

    • x2

      2014 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 FanDuel WFBC Finalist

    My take:

    Some park factors are overrated. I try really hard to identify what those parks/park-factors are, so I can swing the other way on those.

    It’s an interesting situation, because it’s entirely about what the “noise versus numbers” say. As many of us have learned from Bales himself: we should always look to gain an edge by moving away from the crowd…but we should also, optimally, identify when the crowd is correct and when the crowd is incorrect. By identifying the places where the crowd is incorrect, it’s even more valuable to move away from the crowd – and there are opportunities to do this in baseball more than in any other sport!

  • JoeTall

    FastFantasy COO

    Park Factors certainly have impact and are important, it’s that many players “double bake” them (as well as a litany of others stats.)

  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @Storm said...

    Jon, do you know if the Home Run Weather app is ever getting an update? It no longer works for me on iOS9

    Not sure. I created my own that I use now.

  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @jimmyrad said...

    That doesn’t make PNC any kind of “incredible value to hitters” though.

    Incredible was maybe hyperbole, but I was talking actual DFS value (which incorporates site pricing) and not solely hitter-friendliness in a vacuum. Batters have scored 0.2 points per game above expected the past three years in PNC.

  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @JoeTall said...

    Park Factors certainly have impact and are important, it’s that many players “double bake” them (as well as a litany of others stats.)

    This is a big part of what I’m saying. Park factors, as we talk about them now, are of course very important. My point is most of what affects a park’s hitter-friendliness can be captured via other means, like properly quantifying the impact of weather. When you weight park factors and weather/atmospheric conditions, you’re really counting weather twice. And because weather changes, park factors really shouldn’t be considered a static thing.

  • TeamTwerk

    Aren’t the California stadiums pitcher friendly primarily because they are simply large in size? This is what I always thought but I really don’t know. Maybe the typical marine layer and wind has more of an impact than I realized.

  • JoeTall

    FastFantasy COO

    @Jon Bales said...

    This is a big part of what I’m saying. Park factors, as we talk about them now, are of course very important. My point is most of what affects a park’s hitter-friendliness can be captured via other means, like properly quantifying the impact of weather. When you weight park factors and weather/atmospheric conditions, you’re really counting weather twice. And because weather changes, park factors really shouldn’t be considered a static thing.

    I always cringe when I hear, “I like XXXX today as there is a high over under in that game, plus he’s hitting in Fenway, and the wind is going out.”

    Cake is burnt.

  • eom

    I’m just starting to read about this stuff —- is weather accounted for in any way in park factors, or do people just look at the end results from a given park over the season?

  • ocdobv

    @eom said...

    I’m just starting to read about this stuff —- is weather accounted for in any way in park factors, or do people just look at the end results from a given park over the season?

    Park factors do not include other variables. In their most simple version, they are just the runs scored in the teams home games divided by the runs scored in the teams away games.

  • eom

    @ocdobv said...

    Park factors do not include other variables. In their most simple version, they are just the runs scored in the teams home games divided by the runs scored in the teams away games.

    well, they might include weather implicitly.
    like if you have 2 identical parks, but 1 has 70 games of ‘hitter weather’ + the 2nd only has 40 games of hitter weather — the season average will favor the first park for hitters, but this will be misleading when you have a game at each park this week when the temp at both is an equal 40 degrees.

    edit: or as another example, let’s say a park has 40 games of wind blowing out boosting hitter stats over a seasonal average, but today there’s no wind.

  • FkCoolers

    @TeamTwerk said...

    Aren’t the California stadiums pitcher friendly primarily because they are simply large in size? This is what I always thought but I really don’t know. Maybe the typical marine layer and wind has more of an impact than I realized.

    It’s a combo of those two factors for sure.

  • ocdobv

    @eom said...

    well, they might include weather implicitly.
    like if you have 2 identical parks, but 1 has 70 games of ‘hitter weather’ + the 2nd only has 40 games of hitter weather — the season average will favor the first park for hitters, but this will be misleading when you have a game at each park this week when the temp at both is an equal 40 degrees.

    edit: or as another example, let’s say a park has 40 games of wind blowing out boosting hitter stats over a seasonal average, but today there’s no wind.

    Of course. The same could be said about day/night, roof open/closed, etc. It’s just a formula. The same issues can be said about just about any statistic. Maybe we should have a “wOBA is overrated” thread next.

  • JonBales

    RotoAcademy Lead Instructor

    • 480

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x3

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @ocdobv said...

    Maybe we should have a “wOBA is overrated” thread next.

    I agree :)

  • eom

    idk if anybody’s interested, but this weekend I might look at temps at a few different parks, unless that’s already tabulated at some place like fangraphs as common knowledge —- I’m extremely new to fantasy baseball.
    so stay tuned for that

  • eom

    ok, so i took a really half-assed quick look at a few parks, and there’s a ton wrong with this, primarily small samples + arbitrary ranges on temps, along with possible wind issues being ignored, but w/e —- it is what it is.
    I counted up # of runs scored + broke them down by temperature —- 9 inning games only from 2015

    btw, found this on fangraphs if ppl haven’t seen it — park dimensions
    http://www.fangraphs.com/community/complete-outfield-dimensions/

    also, I had a couple ? about park factors —- I realize it’s a static factor across parks, so maybe it washes, but is there any concern about folding in intrinsic homefield advantage on hitters, if that exists?
    I’m wondering if maybe a better way to do park factors would be to use the visiting teams’ stats, although that would be a much bigger pain in the ass.
    also, any issues with that lost 9th inning you might have in some home games?

    anyway, here it is — let me know if the link doesn’t work
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GJoSZ9EI0lNvw1eAX2HrqJTNGxKJC0JUDIBfkbPGiTg/pubhtml

  • walkoff9

    • 923

      RG Overall Ranking

    How far back do the park factors we see on RG go? The larger the sample size i think the more it would be useful.

    Using dodger stadium as an example, the factors show it being a pitchers park, but for left handed batters right around average overall, but great for HR’s to right field.

    Now we all know the dodgers are loaded with strong leftys and crush right handed pitching, well did they build their team to take advantage of the ballpark, or are these numbers simply a result of the type of lineup they have had the last few years?

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