Saturday, November 27, 2004

How Will RFK Play

This may be a fool's errand, but I thought there may be a way to quantify how RFK will play as a ballpark in the next two years. I figured that you could compare the way RFK played when it housed the Texas Rangers nee Washington Senators from 1962-1971 to the ballparks still in use. However, there are very few ballparks from that era still in use. Here are the candidates for the stadiums in use in the American League during that era:

Yankee Stadium
Fenway Park
Angel Stadium
Dodger Stadium (home of the Angels 1962-65)

You can pretty much throw out Yankee Stadium, since it was renovated in the 1970's and changed its dimensions quite a bit. Angel Stadium has gone through a number of renovations through the years, and plays as a somewhat different park.

I think the two best comparisons are Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park (which remains as it was in 1962-71, dimension-wise).

So I first compiled the Park Factors for RFK and Fenway from 1962-1971. Fenway averaged a 106.1 Batter's Park Factor during that time, while RFK average a 97.4 Park Factor. The RFK/Fenway ratio was thus 91.80 (97.4 / 106.1)

Then I compiled the Park Factors for Dodger Stadium as an AL stadium (it played slightly different for the Angels and Dodgers) for the 1962-1966 period. The average Dodger Stadium Batter's Park Factor was 94.8, while during the same 4 years, RFK's was 99.5, meaning that the RFK/Dodger Stadium ratio was 105.0 (99.5/94.8).

Finally, I adjusted the Park Factors for Fenway and Dodger Stadium (NL, obviously) in 2000-2004 using the RFK/Fenway and RFK/Dodger Stadium ratios. The RFK/Fenway ratio produced an RFK Batter's Park Factor of 93.9. while the RFK/Dodger Stadium ratio produced an RFK Batter's Park Factor of 96.8.

Whether the ultimate Park Factor is 93.9 or 96.8, RFK will clearly favor pitchers. A 94 park factor would be the lowest in the NL except for Petco Park and Great American Ballpark. A 97 would put it in a group of the 5 or 6 best pitcher's parks in the NL.

Just for kicks, the 1966-1971 Anaheim Stadium average Batter's Park Factor was 95.6, while RFK was 96. The RFK/Anaheim ratio would thus be 100.3. Using Anaheim's 2002-04 average Batter's Park Factor of 96.3, the RFK/Anaheim ration would put RFK's Batter Park Factor at 96.6. [I used Anaheim's 2002-2004 factors rather than 2000-2004 because Anaheim's 2001 factor was screwy at 107. It's never been even in the neighborhood of that level before.]

Now before the real sabermetricians among you chop off my head for comparing Park Factors across years, selectively chopping off 2000 and 2001 for Anaheim Stadium, and any number of other statistical mortal sins, this is just a thought experiment for quantifying how RFK will play as a park. And this analysis buttresses the old eyeball exam of RFK's baseball dimensions - 335 down the lines, 385 in the power alleys, and 410 to dead center. A big park by today's standards.

6 Comments:

At 10:39 AM, Blogger dexys_midnight said...

between this analysis and your finances analysis, I am both thrilled that you are my friend and co-season ticket holder, and also immensely saddened by the thought that you must have spent the greater chunk of a Saturday on a holiday weekend on all this :-)

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger SuperNoVa said...

I'm prolific, what can I say. Sometimes a question about something just pops into my head and I have to have it answered.

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger DM said...

Very interesting, SNV. I think your prediction is probably right. You can compare one year of RFK to the Vet (1971), which shows it was a pitcher's park compared to the Vet, and by the end the Vet did not stray much from its original PF (if anything it became more of a pitcher's park in the late 1990s).

And the dimensions bear this out. RFK is a lot like the Vet (enclosed, symmetrical staduim), only bigger. Down the lines it is 335 to 330 feet, center it's 410 to 408. But the power allies are the big difference, 385 to 371. That extra 14 feet will kill a lot of homers. The foul ground also appears generous, like the 1960s/1970s parks. It ain't no Citizen's Bank Park.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger ScottF said...

While I understand the thought experiment, comparing parks across eras really doesn't work because all of the parks you mention have been substantially reconfigured in the intervening years. They moved home plate out from the backstop in Dodger Stadium in the mid-seventies, increasing foul ground but reducing dimensions. Fenway plays as much more of a pitchers park today with the construction of the additional bleachers and other similar renovations.

That said, I think you're probably on the right track, assuming RFK ends up being configured as it was in the sixties, as opposed to its configuration in those exhibition games in the late nineties (where it was set up to be a homer haven).

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger DM said...

ScottF makes some good points. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if by the time April rolls around the fences are moved in from the dimensions listed on the website.

 
At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting, SNV. I think your prediction is probably right. You can compare one year of RFK to the Vet (1971), which shows it was a pitcher's park compared to the Vet, and by the end the Vet did not stray much from its original PF (if anything it became more of a pitcher's park in the late 1990s).

And the dimensions bear this out. RFK is a lot like the Vet (enclosed, symmetrical staduim), only bigger. Down the lines it is 335 to 330 feet, center it's 410 to 408. But the power allies are the big difference, 385 to 371. That extra 14 feet will kill a lot of homers. The foul ground also appears generous, like the 1960s/1970s parks. It ain't no Citizens Bank Park.
I don't really want to guess how RFK will play in its new incarnation -- and since I regularly saw games at the Vet from the early eighties until it closed, I can speak for what happened in Philadelphia. After the '85 season, the auxiliary scoreboard in the lower deck in right field was removed, replaced by two huge boards (Phanavision in left, a black-and-white board in right) in centerfield at the 700 level and the ballpark's wind patterns changed somewhat; the Phillies' announcers often commented on how it played differently. Wind patterns also changed in Boston with the addition of a press box and club seats above home plate.

The 2005 RFK will be substantially different from its 1971 counterpart, even if the field dimensions are identical. There's a scoreboard hanging from the upper deck now. However, by current ballpark standards, its dimensions should be fairly large. We'll see what happens...and that's part of the fun.

 

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