Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dodgers-Rockies observations

Just to prove I'm not blowing smoke, here are two things that came to mind while watching the GameCast of the Dodgers-Rockies game this afternoon.

Brad Penny:
Remember the outrage in L.A. when the Dodgers traded LoDuca, Mota, and Encarnacion for Penny, Choi, and Bill Murphy? Penny, who was coming off of a sub-par playoffs but a great World Series (he probably should have been the MVP over Beckett), was clearly the best player in the deal, but everyone in L.A. bemoaned the loss of LoDuca's intangibles. Meanwhile, Mota blew out his arm in Florida and Encarnacion still couldn't get on base with a seeing-eye dog.

Choi never really worked out for the Dodgers, and I don't think Murphy has made the show yet, but Penny, after some injury problems, is reaping enormous dividends. After striking out six in five shutout innings so far in Colorado, his ERA is down to 2.41. Unfortunately for Paul DePodesta, he's now leading the staff of Ned Colletti's team.

Coors Field:
Am I the only one who realizes that the Coors Field effect - now, in 2006 - is overblown? This season, the Rockies are hitting .261/.321/.400 at home, compared to .274/.345/.476 on the road. I realize that it's only been a month and a half, but the humidor seems to be working. Hell, not including today's shutout through six, the Rockies' home ERA is 4.35, 8th in the N.L. (they're 4.08 on the road, which is 7th, but still, that's pretty remarkable).

I guess my point is this: probably 95% of America still thinks of Coors field as a bandbox, where pitchers go to die and hitters sign one-year deals to make the big money in free agency. It's not. And this knowledge is quite valuable to those of us who play fantasy baseball, since even the quote-unquote experts don't seem to realize this yet. You can thank me later.

1 comment:

Warren said...

The Hardball Times wrote about this last week. They found that the difference over the past few years seems to just be the home runs:

Last week, I mentioned the surprisingly average park factor that Coors Park has enjoyed this year. I did a little more research and found that there may be something to this newfound sense of normalcy. Here are the home run park factors (ratio of home runs hit at Coors vs. other parks, for the same teams) over the past four years and including the first sixth of this season:

2002 1.60
2003 1.37
2004 1.23
2005 1.10
2006 0.85

Since 2002, the year they installed the humidor at Coors, the home run park factor has steadily decreased. What about runs that aren't the result of a longball? Bill James invented something called the "Park-S factor" that measures the park factor for non-HR scoring. I have no idea why he called it the Park-S factor, but here are the results for 2006 (so far) and the last three years:

2003 1.06
2004 1.08
2005 1.08
2006 1.07

Non-home run scoring has hardly changed at all, but the Coors home run rate has dropped dramatically. Can the home run rate stay this low in 2006? Look for a "Humidor Watch" in future articles.