Cardinals-Red Sox World Series: Busch vs. Fenway, by the numbers
With the World Series shifting to St. Louis, how will the change in ballparks affect things?
Games 1 and 2 of the World Series between the Cardinals and Red Sox are accounted for, and now the series shifts to St. Louis for Games 3, 4 and 5 (the 1-1 tie of course means there will be a Game 5). One the question raised by the change in scenery is how Busch Stadium differs from Fenway Park in Boston, home to the first two contests of the series.
By this we don't mean the historic trappings of Fenway versus the modern comforts of Busch. Rather, we're talking about how the tendencies of each ballpark might influence the game on the field. Broadly, we know that Fenway is historically a hitter's environment, while Busch since coming online in 2006 has played as somewhat of a pitcher's park. The real story, however, is in the details.
What follows is a data table that summarizes how Fenway and Busch affected run-scoring and then right-handed and left-handed hitters in terms of power output. Each percentage figure listed reflects how the park influences certain events relative to a neutral environment -- i.e., a park that favors neither run scoring nor run prevention. A figure of "10%," for instance, would mean that the ballpark in question inflates that particular statistic by 10 percent compared to a dead neutral ballpark. Conversely, a figure of, say, "-6%" means it's six percent more difficult for, say, a left-hander to hit a double in the park of interest relative, again, to a neutral playing venue.
Now let's have a look at Fenway versus Busch. In order to increase the data sample, we'll present numbers from the last three seasons ...
|Busch Stadium vs. Fenway Park|
|Park, year||Overall runs||2Bs/3Bs by RHBs||HRs by RHBs||2Bs/3Bs by LHBs||HRs by LHBs|
|Data in first column via FanGraphs, L/R data via StatCorner|
You may pick up on the thoroughgoing weirdness of Fenway Park, particularly insofar as left-handed batters are concerned. By way of reminder, here's what we're dealing with ...
(Image: Baseball Almanac)
That swath of green in right field at once inflates the rate of lefty doubles and triples while at the same time tamping down on homers from left-handed batters. We know what the Green Monster means for right-handed batters: a few more homers and oodles more doubles.
As for Busch, it's much tougher on right-handed home runs and non-HR extra-base hits by lefty batters, as you can see above. This drawing of Busch with a Fenway overlay will give you a pretty good idea of why that's the case (Curtsy: Hit Tracker Online) ...
One glance at the pull fields and you can understand why homers by RHBs and doubles by LHBs are harder to come by. With that said, Busch is significantly more accommoding for left-handed home run hitters than is Fenway, which is perhaps an argument for starting David Ortiz at first base for all games in St. Louis. Sure, he'll give quite a bit away on defense versus Mike Napoli, but he'll have the platoon advantage against all three Cardinal starters, and the playing environment will be less hostile toward his homer-ing ways. That ball he lifted over the Monster in Game 2 may have been a long out in St. Louis, but Ortiz in the regular season hit just three of his 30 home runs to the opposite field.
Of course, park factors -- i.e., the way in which ballparks affect run scoring -- are determined by more than just ballpark configuration. It's also about weather patterns, hitting visuals and even small but sustained mound irregularities. In the case of Busch vis-à-vis Fenway, though, it's probably about layout for the most part.
Will Boston hitters be affected by it? On an individual basis, almost certainly, but this remains the team that paced the AL this season with 434 runs scored on the road. If nothing else, though, John Farrell may need to think about tailoring his lineup in some spots. For those Boston bats are in a truly different place now.