I was told there would be no math.
That's what I heard when I first got into broadcasting. A million years ago at UW-Platteville, the greatest state system school in the universe*, as I was pursuing my Broadcast Technology Management Degree (with an emphasis in Ad & Sales) there were two math classes that I had to take. One was an introductory algebra class that everyone had to take. The other was up to the broadcasting student, but it had to at least be at the 200 level.
The last math class I took was 208 - if I remember right. I can't remember the name of it. I only remember the nickname it was given by the broadcast students before me: Broadcaster Math.
However, last week I wound up delving back into the world of math…stuff. It was all courtesy of an article on MiLB.com by Ashley Marshall and it was titled: Home is (maybe) where the offense is.
Marshall went through five seasons of raw data (2008 through 2012) to discover the park factors and run environments for all of the minor league and all of the minor league parks.
It is an impressive article. Not the least because this equation was snuck into it...
((Runs scored at home + runs allowed at home)/(Home games)) / ((Runs scored on the road + runs allowed on the road)/(Road games))
...and my eyes did not immediately glaze over as my brain yelled at me to look a trick shot videos on YouTube.
Click the link up top to check out the entire article, but for the Timber Rattlers fans reading this, I'll summarize what probably interests you the most. That being: Is Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium a ballpark for hitters or for pitchers?
The answer is: Hitters park…barely.
A neutral park factor for a stadium is 1.000. The home of the Timber Rattlers is at 1.014 which is tied with Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains.
The best park for hitters in the Midwest League is Community Field in Burlington with a park factor of 1.129. The best park for pitchers in the Midwest League is Bowling Green Ballpark.
The number that surprised the Pascal out of me is that Pohlman Field - and its 380' fence in centerfield - favors pitchers with a park factor of 0.935…only Peoria Chiefs Stadium and Bowling Green favor pitchers more in the sixteen team Midwest League.
That Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium is as close to normal as it is should not be a surprise. But I can think of quite a few left-handed hitters who would disagree.
I can't tell you how many times a left-handed hitter has hit a ball to the flag poles in right-center only to come up empty as the centerfielder runs that fly down shy of the warning track. The guy just crushed it 390' and is short of the warning track out there. He's thinking he should have a home run. Instead it is just a long out.
If you look up in the Midwest League ratings, Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium is second in the league in park factor at 1.119. The dimensions are similar to ours, but just a little bit deeper in the games and very close in left field.
The deep gap in right-center and the spacious centerfield opens Cedar Rapids for a few more extra-base hits. The shallower left field makes the home of the Kernels a little bit more of a home run park, too.
What do Timber Rattlers alumni have ahead of them as they move up the Brewers system into their new home stadiums?
Space Coast Stadium, the home of Brevard County, has a park factor of .819. That would be the lowest in the Florida State League. Which is why Marshall points out the season that former Rattler Mike Walker had for the Manatees in 2012:
Considering his home ballpark as well as the nature of the Florida State League, Brewers third baseman Mike Walker put together an impressive season in 2012. He hit .280 with 12 homers, tied for the team lead, and 75 RBIs, a Manatees high. His 54 walks led to a .361 on-base percentage and his final slugging percentage of .415 ranked first among regulars.
Deceptively, his average ranked 118th among all Class A Advanced hitters, while his 12 homers tied for 128th. But against the league averages -- .255 average, .326 OBP and .373 slugging percentage -- it's easy to see Walker's real value in a tough hitters environment. Expect a jump in production if he sees time in Huntsville in 2013.
The reason to expect a jump in production for Walker - or for any Manatee that moves on to Huntsville this season - is that Joe W. Davis Stadium in Huntsville is second in the Southern League in park factor at 1.121, a much better run environment than the Florida State League.
Or former Rattler pitchers will be looking forward to pitching in Nashville once they get to AAA. They will find Herschel Greer Stadium's park factor at .980. That makes it much better for the hurlers.
Of course the Sounds pitchers won't be looking forward to pitching on the road in Albuquerque (1.453), Reno (1.316), and Colorado Springs (1.266). Those three parks are rated as the 2nd, 4th, and 6th best parks for hitters in all of minor league baseball.
That would make for a bad road trip.
The next time you are looking at stats for a player keep some of this data in mind. It will help you make judgments on how that player will be able to progress - or if that player will be able to progress - at the next level.
*- Platteville is to the best in the universe. It's science. You can't argue with science.