Friday, March 22, 2013

Minor league park effects

The Twins have moved their Midwest League affiliation to
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Veterans Memorial Stadium is, according
to Baseball America, one of the better hitters' parks
in the generally pitcher-friendly Midwest League.
The Baseball America that landed in my mailbox Thursday included a two-page spread on minor league park effects. For people like me, who scan minor league stats for a rough measurement of what a given prospect can do, having a handle on park effects is important.

But with few exceptions, we haven't had a real detailed breakdown of specific parks. We know that, in general, the Pacific Coast League is more hitter-friendly than its Triple A counterpart, the International League; that in low A, the chilly Midwest League is kinder to pitchers than the warmer South Atlantic League; that the high-altitude parks in the California League inflate hitting stats.

I've noted repeatedly in the this blog that the Twins full season affiliates are, in each level, in the more pitcher-friendly league -- the International League (Triple A), the Eastern League (Double A), the Florida State League (high A), the Midwest League (low A).

These are all generalities. BA now tells us a bit more.

The BA spread tells us that the Twins' specific affiliates are generally in some of the better hitters parks in their leagues.

  • Rochester is the fourth-highest run environment in the 14-team International League.
  • New Britain is the fourth-highest run environment in the 12-team Eastern League.
  • Fort Myers is the sixth-highest run environment in the 12-team FSL.
  • Cedar Rapids is the second-highest run environment in the 16-team Midwest League.

None of them is truly extreme. They tend (Fort Myers being the exception) to tilt slightly to the hitters, but in a league environment that tilts toward the pitchers. (This will be the Twins' first season with Cedar Rapids; their previous affiliate in the MWL, Beloit, was eighth on that list.)

It's also worth noting that all four leagues are listed as having low standard deviations, meaning that there aren't huge differences between the highs and lows. When the Twins affiliates hit the road, they're playing in parks that don't play all that much differently from each other.

All this, it seems to me, indicates that the Twins full-season affiliates play in situations that make their statistics relatively reliable indicators.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to be a little skeptical of park effects, especially over one or 2 years. So much depends on the pitchers and hitters inhabiting those parks. The Metrodome was called the Homerdome when there were 4 30 homer guys playing for the team. It pretty much lost that title when those guys retired or left.

    I agree with your general statements however. Some leagues are more conducive to either hitters or pitchers and have proved that over the years. In general when Twins hitters put up good numbers over several years in the Twins system, they probably have a good chance of becoming a good major league hitters. The pitchers are a bit more iffy.