If you’ve ever wondered how the home ballparks play for prospects climbing the minor league ladder in your favorite organization, then you’re in luck because here we present a handy cheat sheet that addresses the subject.
In the following table, you can find the runs-per-game intervals between two sequential home ballparks in any organization’s minor league system. For example, Diamondbacks minor leaguers who begin at low Class A South Bend play home games in a park that featured 8.98 R/G during the three seasons, 2010-12, we sampled. A promotion to high Class A Visalia places Arizona farmhands in a home park featuring 10.70 R/G, an increase of 1.72 R/G, which is reflected in the +/– column of the table below. The move from Visalia to Double-A Mobile (8.64 R/G) shaves 2.06 R/G from the home-park context, while a bump from Mobile to Triple-A Reno (13.32 R/G) carries with it a dramatic upswing of 4.68 R/G.
You can find a R/G reading for any full-season minor league affiliate in our feature entitled Minor League Ballparks Drive Performance. See the bottom of this post for the fine print regarding ballparks with special circumstances since the 2010 season.
|Runs Per Game Intervals Between Minor League Affiliate Home Parks, 2010-12|
|HOU||Q Cities||+3.65||Lancaster||–3.85||C Christi||+0.38||Okla City|
|LAA||Burlington||–0.40||I Empire||–1.68||Arkansas||+4.10||Salt Lake|
|MIN||C Rapids||–1.25||Ft Myers||+0.86||N Britain||–0.28||Rochester|
|NYM||Savannah||+2.57||St Lucie||+0.02||Binghamton||+3.22||Las Vegas|
|SD||Ft Wayne||+0.25||Lake Elsinore||–1.47||San Antonio||+3.39||Tucson|
|TEX||Hickory||–1.50||Myrtle Beach||+0.68||Frisco||+1.23||R Rock|
As depicted in the piece Large Swings In Home-Ballpark Context Cloud Evaluations, the Mariners system feature the widest disparity in home-ballpark context among any organization’s affiliates. A Seattle farmhand’s climb from low Class A Clinton to high Class A High Desert (+5.73 R/G) features the steepest uptick in scoring between levels in the full-season minors. Those players come right back down the mountain upon a promotion to Double-A Jackson (-5.47 R/G), which is the sharpest drop in the minors—and probably akin to whiplash.
Rounding out the 10 most diverse systems are the Dodgers, Mets, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Astros, Angels, Padres, Royals and Reds. The 10 most static in terms of home-ballpark context: Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, Cubs, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Braves and Brewers.
Full-Season Park Factors For Each Organization
We published three-year park factors for runs scored previously in Minor League Ballparks Drive Performance, so all we’re doing here is reorganizing them under the umbrella of parent club. A PF of 1.000 is considered neutral, favoring neither hitters nor pitchers but playing fair to both. Any PF value higher than 1.000 indicates that hitters benefit by playing one-half of games in that park.
For example, Triple-A Reno’s 1.156 PF signifies that Aces batters spend half their time in an environment in which runs are 15.6 percent more prevalent than in parks that they visit on the road. The Braves’ Double-A affiliate is just he opposite. Mississippi’s .937 PF indicates that runs are 6.3 percent less common for M-Braves batters based on playing half their games in Pearl, Miss.
|Park Factor (Runs) For All 120 Full-Season Affiliates, 2010-12|
|LAA||Burlington||1.057||I Empire||0.894||Arkansas||0.902||Salt Lake||1.069|
|MIN||C Rapids||1.054||Ft Myers||0.970||New Britain||0.992||Rochester||1.015|
|NYM||Savannah||0.880||St Lucie||1.095||Binghamton||1.001||Las Vegas||1.092|
|SD||Ft Wayne||1.039||L Elsinore||0.939||San Antonio||0.928||Tucson||1.053|
|TEX||Hickory||1.044||M Beach||1.006||Frisco||0.994||R Rock||0.993|
The honor of most hitter-friendly system goes to the Rockies, with an average full-season park factor of 1.065. In the Colorado system, only high Class A Modesto (.945 PF) is anything like a pitcher’s park. The rest of the top five: Dodgers (1.044), Astros (1.042), Diamondbacks (1.038) and Mariners (1.033). Pitchers in those systems have only a few places to hide.
The most pitcher-friendly system belongs to the Yankees, with an average full-season park factor of .951. High Class A Tampa (.999 PF) is essentially neutral, but the other three stops all favor pitchers to a fair degree, though we’ll have to see how the new park in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre plays. The rest of the top five: Giants (.955), Cardinals (.961), Athletics (.961) and Orioles (.980).
San Francisco and Oakland are interesting in that they occupy pitcher’s parks in hitter’s leagues, perhaps in an effort to prepare young pitchers for the diversity of hitter’s parks, e.g. Arizona, Colorado and Texas, they will see in the big leagues. The Giants have had long-standing player-development contracts with high Class A San Jose (.922) and Triple-A Fresno (.965), while the A’s have long called high Class A Stockton (.977) and Triple-A Sacramento (.874) home.
Notes on ballparks with special circumstances:
• 2010-11 only: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY)
• 2011-12 only: Triple-A Omaha (KC) and Tucson (SD)
• 2012 only: Double-A Pensacola (CIN)
• 2013: Triple-A Scranton (NYY) and Double-A Birmingham (CWS) open new parks
• High Class A Carolina (CLE) spent 2010-11 at Double-A, so park factor 2012 only