Thursday, December 6, 2007

Largest Home/Road Splits by OPS in 2007

It seems whenever a Colorado hitter does well, people immediately attribute his success to the altitude at Coors Field. Similarly, players in San Diego get a little benefit of the doubt because Petco Park is one of the better pitcher's parks in the majors. Splits between home games and away games also occasionally come up in trade discussions: for example, Hank Blalock, a better career hitter than the average 3B, is rumored to be on the trading block, but he simply can't hit outside of Texas (.303/.372/.525 in Arlington vs. .243/.301/.398 outside) and so interest among fans, at least, is lukewarm in part because of this (he's also got an injury history).

Regardless, it's always interesting to see how players do in and out of their home park. Conventional wisdom relates that players hit better at home than they do on the road and the MLB splits verify this: in 2007, major league batters put up a .772 OPS at home and a .745 OPS on the road. That's a pretty decent separation.

Let's look at the individual hitters who hit better at home and who hit better on the road. We'll use OPS as the statistic of comparison because it's easy to calculate and pretty useful. The minimum number of total plate appearances might be kind of contentious, but I'm going to pick 300 both because it's a fairly high round number and it breaks up our list into two convenient chunks (what luck!). Twenty-five batters had an OPS at least .200 higher at home than on the road and fifteen had an OPS at least .200 higher on the road than at home.

Largest Difference In Home/Road OPS for 2007

Batters With a .200+ Higher OPS at Home

DetailsHomeAwayDifference (Home-Away)
Franklin GutierrezCLE143.357.617.974158.282.343.625301.075.275.350
Derrek LeeCHC323.449.6321.081327.352.397.749650.097.235.332
Frank CatalanottoTEX186.370.573.943191.305.317.622377.065.256.321
Matt HollidayCOL363.435.7221.157350.374.485.860713.061.236.297
Scott HattebergCIN212.436.5711.007205.351.366.717417.085.205.290
Chone FigginsLAA212.458.536.993291.346.359.705503.112.176.288
Tony Pena Jr.KCR268.335.442.777268.234.271.505536.101.171.272
Maicer IzturisLAA193.417.470.887181.276.339.616374.140.131.271
Corey PattersonBAL253.351.474.825250.257.297.554503.094.177.271
Jack CustOAK257.459.5881.047250.356.423.779507.103.165.268
Aramis RamirezCHC288.403.6431.046270.326.454.780558.077.189.266
Nomar GarciaparraLAD231.385.450.835235.272.297.570466.113.152.265
Ian KinslerTEX276.398.523.921290.313.362.675566.084.161.246
Troy TulowitzkiCOL336.392.568.960346.327.393.719682.066.175.241
Esteban GermanKCR188.382.469.851217.324.296.620405.058.173.231
Craig BiggioHOU328.314.446.760227.243.286.529555.070.161.231
Mike LowellBOS323.418.575.993330.339.428.767653.079.148.226
Kaz MatsuiCOL216.381.482.864237.304.333.638453.077.149.226
Jhonny PeraltaCLE327.367.514.881320.313.345.659647.053.169.222
Pat BurrellPHI293.430.5861.016305.370.424.795598.060.161.221
Dmitri YoungWSH232.414.568.982276.348.425.773508.066.143.209
Brad WilkersonTEX200.359.529.887189.277.402.679389.082.126.208
Juan UribeCHW278.309.474.783285.260.315.575563.049.159.208
Kevin MenchMIL153.346.504.850155.265.381.645308.082.123.204
Marlon ByrdTEX224.406.510.916230.304.410.715454.102.100.201

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is a statistic that measures the amount of hits that fall in. It's formula is (H-HR)/(AB-K-HR+SF); as I'm sure you can tell, by taking out home runs and strikeouts you are left with the at bats where the ball was put in play for the defense to field. Originally applied to pitchers wherein a pitcher with a really high or really low BABIP likely is due for a regression, it can also kind of be used to see if a batter is lucky or not.

Oddly, Juan Uribe's BABIP actually went up when away from US Cellular Field. Since that means more hits were falling in on the road, you'd think his stats would have gone up when on the road. He was the only player to see his BABIP increase; Scott Hatteberg had the largest drop with his BABIP going from .393 at home to .244 on the road.

As I mentioned before, fifteen players had the opposite change in their OPS.

Batters With a .200+ Higher OPS on the Road

DetailsHomeAwayDifference (Away-Home)
Wily Mo PenaBOS/WSH159.296.293.588158.342.577.919317.046.284.330
James LoneyLAD197.350.425.775178.416.6611.076375.065.236.302
Joe MauerMIN237.326.336.663235.436.520.956472.110.184.294
John BuckKCR199.256.350.606200.360.518.878399.104.169.272
Morgan EnsbergHOU/SDP162.280.310.589162.360.500.860324.081.190.271
Wes HelmsPHI139.225.295.520169.357.432.790308.133.137.269
Luke ScottHOU220.305.422.726205.400.593.993425.095.171.267
Mike PiazzaOAK152.283.312.595177.339.500.839329.056.188.244
Paul Lo DucaNYM243.263.310.573244.361.450.811487.098.140.237
Cesar IzturisCHC/PIT144.254.231.485193.337.378.715337.083.146.230
Albert PujolsSTL321.399.487.886358.455.6421.097679.057.155.211
Alfonso SorianoCHC312.308.486.794305.367.6361.003617.060.150.209
Shannon StewartOAK296.311.319.629334.375.461.836630.065.142.207
Brian GilesSDP255.345.320.665297.374.496.870552.029.177.205
Moises AlouNYM176.330.485.815184.451.5661.017360.122.081.202

There aren't really any fluky BABIP stories here. The smallest change was an .019 increase from home to away for Brian Giles and the largest was Luke Scott's .128 jump.

For the curious, the most "even" player in the league in terms of a home/road split in terms of OPS was Greg Dobbs of the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .275/.324/.456 at home and .268/.335/.444 on the road for a slim .00076 difference in his home (the better one) OPS and road OPS. If, however, you envision a plot of OBP and SLG with OBP on the x-axis and SLG on the y-axis and take the magnitude of the vector that goes to each player's point, you find that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the closest to having no change. His OBP on the road was .00142 higher than at home and his SLG was .00324 higher at home than on the road.

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