Pac Bell: The Giant Team’s Giant Ball Park
Hitting a shot into McCovey’s Cove isn’t as easy as it looks.
Before Pacific Bell Park opened in April, 2000, I took one of the free public
tours that the Giants were offering. Hey, I had nothing better to do. The facility
was, of course, mighty impressive: gleaming and new, and compared with Candlestick,
it was charming and warm and friendly. Finally, real baseball had arrived at the
City by the Bay.
Because it was empty of fans during my tour, it was hard for me to get a strong
sense that day on how large the playing field was. Yet I looked down the left
field line and saw 335 feet and thought, "short," and then down the
right field line, saw 307 feet, and thought, " really, really short.".
When we were walking through the upper deck above home plate with our docent
describing all the food and other merchanidise that fans could buy, the yard
looked puny against the backdrop of the Bay Bridge, McCovey Cove, and San Fransisco
Bay. Even the stevedores’ cranes in Oakland six miles away loomed large. So
I thought I knew one thing for sure: Pac Bell was going to be yet another band-box
As everyone but Tim McCarver seems to have figured out, I was wrong. Pac Bell
is an extreme pitcher’s park. It’s the unCoors. Its Ball Park Factor was miserly
the same in 2000 and in 2001: 91 for batters and 92 for pitchers. I guess that
high wall in right-field and the spacious outfield from straight away right
to the far reaches of center-filed and to the gap in left-center were more than
I realized back when I took that tour.
This year, so far, Pac Bell has continued to suppress offense. The Giants are
scoring 1.14 fewer runs per game at home than they are on the road (4.23 vs.
5.37) and they are giving up 0.91 fewer runs at home than they are on the road
(3.12 vs. 4.03). In other words, a Giants game at Pacific Bell Park averages
2.05 fewer runs than one does elsewhere in the major leagues.
Despite the Bell’s depressive effects, a few Giants on the San Francisco roster
appear to be unaffected by Pac Bell. Barry Bonds is the most notable in this
group. His OPS at home is 128 points higher:
Bonds sleeping in his Estate: .373/.587/.843.
Bonds living in Motels: .327/.548/.755.
Reggie Sanders is the only other Giant hitter for whom Pacific Bell is not
a hindrance but a help. The Colonel’s OPS is 160 points better in The City:
Reggie eating home cooking: 261/339/486.
Sanders eating at KFC: 219/323/343.
Among the San Francisco pitchers, only Livan Hernandez and Aaron Fultz have
not benefitted from Pac Bell. Hernandez’s ERA grows from 3.45 on the road to
4.82 at home, while Fultz’s inflates from 5.52 away to 7.00 on the road.
Robb Nen, Jay Witasick, and Russ Ortiz have all been close to even at home
and on the road this season:
Nen 2.20 home ERA, 2.13 road ERA
Witasick 1.23 home ERA, 1.50 road ERA
Ortiz 3.19 home ERA, 3.81 road ERA
For the rest of the Giants, Pacific Bell Park appears to have greatly affected
their 2002 seasons so far. Here are the anemic Giants’ hitters playing in the
Publicly Regulated Utility:
Marvin Benard - .163/.250/.186
Rich Aurilia - .208/.225/.325
JT Snow - .155/.273/.167
Jeff Kent - .260/.321/.402
Benito Santiago - .255/.288/.443
David Bell - .248/.308/.376
Tsuyoshi Shinjo - .242/.303/.308
And here is that exact same group on the road looking like an All-Star team
Marvin Benard - .354/.380/.542
Rich Aurilia - .304/.350/.518
JT Snow - .248/.324/.405
Jeff Kent - .328/.386/.519
Benito Santiago - .312/.364/.523
David Bell - .264/.331/.465
Tsuyoshi Shinjo - .244/.296/.374
This is how much each of these Giants has lost in OPS at home after 69 games:
Marvin Benard - 486 points
Rich Aurilia - 318 points
JT Snow - 289 points
Jeff Kent - 182 points
Benito Santiago - 155 points
David Bell - 112 points
Tsuyoshi Shinjo - 59 points
Waking up in a familiar bed for San Francisco’s pitchers often means a low
ERA. Here are the Giants’ pitchers who have so far benefitted the most this
season pitching at home:
Felix Rodriguez - 2.87 ERA
Ryan Jensen - 2.53 ERA
Jason Schmidt - 2.20 ERA
Tim Worrell - 1.26 ERA
Kirk Rueter - 2.76 ERA
Chad Zerbe - 2.31 ERA
And here is that very same staff on the road:
Felix Rodriguez - 7.62 ERA
Ryan Jensen - 5.85 ERA
Jason Schmidt - 4.87 ERA
Tim Worrell - 3.57 ERA
Kirk Rueter - 3.86 ERA
Chad Zerbe - 3.31 ERA
The difference in their road minus home ERA’s?
Felix Rodriguez - 4.75 earned runs per 9 innings
Ryan Jensen - 3.32
Jason Schmidt - 2.67
Tim Worrell - 2.31
Kirk Rueter - 1.10
Chad Zerbe - 1.00
Granted, partial season home-road splits can be misleading, particularly for
relief pitchers, as the sample size for any one player is just too small. But
the trend is quite clear. For Giants’ hitters, Pac Bell makes 5’ 7" Marvin
Benard and his mates look like a league of Lilliputians. And for Giants’ pitchers,
the House that Bonds Built makes 6’ 6" Jason Schmidt and his band appear
to be Brobdingnagian.
Posted: June 21, 2002 at 05:00 AM | 2 comment(s)
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