Mets minor league park factors

St. Lucie's Tradition Field - Chris McShane

An in-depth look at the run-scoring landscape of the Mets minor league system.

As Jeffrey stated in his initial look at Baseball America's recently released minor league park factors, the Mets' affiliates tend to fall on either end of the offensive spectrum. However, I felt it would be a worthwhile exercise to further explore each of the different stadiums that the club's full-season affiliates call home in order to get a full picture of the run-scoring environments within the system, while indicating individual performances that deserve to be singled out.

The most telling figure in the below data is the park factor, which basically provides the percentage that a park helps or hurts a player's performance. For example, a stadium with a park factor (PF) of 1.00 — or 100 — is perfectly neutral. A stadium with a 1.20 PF means that batters receive roughly a 20 percent boost by playing half of their games there. It is important to remember that park factors are relative to league. This means that each league is almost like its own little universe, and park factors do not translate between them.

As stated in the original Baseball America piece, "to use the park factors, take a batter's runs created per game or a pitcher's runs allowed per game (or whatever your metrics of choice might be) and divide by his park factor. This will give you a crude a park-adjusted rate of production for any minor league player."

Additionally, Baseball America also provided runs, hits, and home runs per game. All of these figures represent averages from 2010 through 2012. Interestingly, the highest predictive relationship between any two sets of numbers exists between hits and runs (89% confidence). Meanwhile, the relationship between home runs and runs only yields a .048 correlation. These statistics are more basic and for that reason, unlike park factors, can be compared between leagues.

Triple-A

Setting Park Factor R/G H/G
HR/G
Buffalo
1.020
9.29
17.37
1.78
International League
n/a
8.74
17.43
1.67

Buffalo's Coca Cola Field sports the third-highest park factor in the entire International League. However, that's not necessarily the most telling stat as the International League as a whole is the ninth-worst run-scoring environment out of the ten full-season leagues.

Frankly speaking, Buffalo plays as a nearly neutral environment, boosting offensive output by a mere 2%. And though the IL, and every other league, features a compiled 1.00 PF, the IL North Division — the six locations where the Bisons played the vast majority of their games — boasts a run-inhibiting .984 PF, .977 without Buffalo.

Performance Spotlight: Over the same three-year span, Zach Lutz posted a .298/.395/.504 line as a member of the Buffalo Bisons, a feat made more impressive by the fact that he received a negligible boost from his home park and was slightly inhibited by the rest of the IL North Division stadiums.

Setting Park Factor R/G H/G
HR/G
Las Vegas
1.092
12.81
21.97
2.22
Pacific Coast League
n/a 10.69
19.44
1.94

Coming into 2013 the Las Vegas historical PF splits become very important for the Mets, not just because it will be their new Triple-A home for the next few seasons; not just because their top prospect coincidentally spent last season there. These numbers are important to evaluate because it is one of the most extreme run-scoring environments in minor league baseball.

Cashman Field boasted the fourth-highest park factor and third-highest hits per game figure in the entire Pacific Coast League, which in itself was the second-highest run-scoring environment in full-season minor league baseball. The combination of dry air and high elevation makes it a nice play to hit.

That fact may look slightly exaggerated, however, when you evaluate the numbers. While a 1.09 PF — or 9 perecent higher than the PCL average — is pretty high, Cashman Field is clearly in the second tier of PCL ballparks, below the offensive monsters in Albuquerque (1.229), Reno (1.156) , and Colorado Springs (1.139). Las Vegas is a hitter's park, but perhaps not quite as overwhelmingly so as we generally hear.

Spotlight Performance: Travis d'Arnaud batted .333/.380/.595 in about 300 plate appearances for the Las Vegas 51s in 2012. Normalizing for the 9 percent boost from his home park, those numbers would have looked more like .306/.349/.546 in a hypothetical "average PCL stadium."

Double-A

Setting Park Factor R/G H/G
HR/G
Binghamton
1.001
9.59
17.68
1.73
Eastern League
n/a 8.92
17.28
1.52

With a park factor that boosts offense by a mere 1 percent — and as part of the Eastern League, which ranks sixth out of ten in runs scored per game — Binghamton's NYSEG Stadium is pretty much the textbook definition of a neutral offensive environment. In fact, NYSEG Stadium is one of only three full-season ballparks that adjusted offense by 1 percent or less over the past three seasons. As a whole, the Eastern League Eastern Division also plays extremely fairly (.999).

Spotlight Performance: In his time with Binghamton in 2012, Matt den Dekker batted .292/.352/.531 in 109 home plate appearances and .373/.428/.585 in 159 road plate appearances. What did it mean? Probably nothing.

High-A

Setting Park Factor R/G H/G
HR/G
St. Lucie
1.095
9.57
17.99
1.27
Florida State League
n/a 8.58
17.03
1.13

On the surface, Tradition Field, or Digital Domain Park, as it was known during this period, looks like something of a hitter's park thanks to a relatively high 1.095 PF. Yet it's important to note that at a mere 8.58, the Florida State League ranks tenth out of ten in runs per game. Thanks to a nice jet stream out to left field — something we've witnessed first-hand in spring training the last few years — St. Lucie is a big fish in an extremely tiny pond. Measured by eye against counterparts around baseball, it's probably fair to say that this stadium plays relatively neutral.

Spotlight Performance: Between 2010 and 2012, Wilmer Flores posted a .282/.319/.409 line with St. Lucie. Accounting for their +9 percent park factor, Flores would have hit something like .259/.292/.375 in the hypothetical "average FSL stadium." That's not quite as impressive. It's worth noting that such a line in the Florida State League would likely translate to a much more palatable line in the High-A California League, which ranked first in full-season baseball with 10.80 runs per game.

Additionally, despite the small sample, Rafael Montero's 2.13 ERA in eight starts for St. Lucie in 2012 would have translated to an even more impressive 1.95 mark when adjusted for park factor.

Low-A

Setting Park Factor R/G H/G
HR/G
Savannah
0.880
7.00
15.11
0.63
South Atlantic League
n/a 9.34
17.32
1.29

Savannah's historic Wiliam L. Grayson Stadium is nothing short of the toughest run-scoring environment in full season baseball. Despite the fact that the South Atlantic League ranks third out of ten in runs scored, BA's top ten summary ranked Grayson at the very bottom in runs, hits, and home runs per game.

In the original BA piece, Savannah team president John Katz explains:

"We've always been known as a pitcher's park. Our current dimensions are 322 feet to left field, 400 to center and 310 to right. We have a six-foot wall in left, but the remainder of the ballpark has a 16-foot wall, with the exception of the area beneath the video board which is a 'mere' 14 feet high. The left-field corner juts out deep to create an enormous alley to left-center, even with the lower wall. That 16-foot wall keeps a lot of balls in play.

According to Mr. Paternostro, "the combination of high fences, big power alleys, proximity to sea level, and the humid Georgia air all combine to create the most pitcher-friendly park in full-season baseball." In short, it's the worst place to hit/best place to pitch in all of the minors.

Spotlight Performance: With what we've read above, it's pretty incredible to note that in 2012 Aderlin Rodriguez posted a monstrous .223 ISO playing his home games in Grayson Stadium. Of course, he did slug .473 at home and .517 on the road, but that's not a huge split.

Adjusting for park factor he would have posted a ridiculous.253 ISO in a neutral SAL park. While he didn't get a mention in BP's recent top power in the minors piece, I personally think that performance alone gives the big-bodied 21-year-old Rodriguez some of the biggest power in all of minor league baseball.

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