RFK, Not Surprisingly, A Pitcher's Park
Today is a great day for baseball. Not just because the Yankees and Angels are going to play a climactic Game 5 tonight. Instead, today is the day that Baseball-Reference.com has made the 2005 Major League statistics available. You can really get lost in that stuff.
One thing I pulled out from the Nats' page - click here to get to it - is the RFK park factor. It comes in at Batting-93/Pitching - 94, good enough to be the 2nd best pitcher's park in the National League, behind Petco Park (which had an astounding 90/91 factor).
I cite this mainly to pat Nats Blog on the back. Way back when, in December of 2004, when the Nats were merely a gleam in Linda Cropp's eye, we here at Nats Blog predicted that RFK would play as one of the strongest pitcher's parks in the league, even going so far as to predict a Park Factor of between 93 and 96 (Well, 93.9 and 96.8). I love it when a plan comes together.
RFK's pitcher-friendly atmosphere makes a difference on the value of the Nats' pitching in trades. Livan Hernandez looks like a solid #1 or #2 pitcher to many teams, made good by his RFK-deflated 3.98 ERA. In reality, Livan had a park-adjusted, ERA+ of 100, meaning he was only a league-average pitcher. Good old Esteban Loaiza was league-average, too, with his 3.77 ERA. His ERA+ was actually quite similar to his performance with the White Sox in 2004 (4.86 ERA, 101 ERA+ adjusted for Coors East, US Cellular Field), yet he will rake in much more in 2006 than the $2.9 million he picked up in 2005. Way to take advantage, Esteban!
At some point, the Nats need to take a really strong look at designing the new park to be, a la Petco, an extreme pitcher's park. If they do, they can import low-value pitchers (especially relievers) on the cheap and consistently spin them off for minor league and major league talent. Like the Coors Field effect, opposing GM's have not quite figured out how to adjust for parks when trading talent. And there is no reason the Nats cannot take advantage of the system.