Park Effects

I always cringe when the Warriors play at San Antonio just because of that weird part of the baseline where it juts out 3 feet at a sharp angle. Almost as bad as when the Raiders play at New Orleans, where midfield is at the 48 yard line.

Oh wait, that doesn't happen. Baseball is really unusual in allowing a Green Monster in Boston, more foul territory in Oakland than you'll find at any free range farm, a "bandbox" here and a "triples alley" there...So that we are constantly forced to say, about stats, "OK, but that ball doesn't go out in Minnesota" or "He'd never put up those kinds of numbers in Cincinnati."

It gets frustrating how 30 HRs isn't just "30 HRs" and a 4.00 ERA can mean you had a good year or a lousy one. I like the charm in baseball of not normalizing and streamlining everything, but honestly hasn't baseball gotten a bit carried away?

I could see "grandfathering in" Fenway and Wrigley as relics that get to be quirky. One in each league. I'm glad baseball isn't so standardized that every single foul pole is exactly 330 feet from home plate -- but what about saying it has to be somewhere between 325 and 335, that an outfield wall has to be between 8-12 feet? You get the idea.

Mostly, I think that baseball stadiums should be constructed so that park effects are less than, say, 5%, so that the stats we see from a player at least reasonably translate from one park to another. If every park played to an OPS+/ERA+ of between 95-105, so that we could say "Well, Goatbody's line of .280/.360/.470 would have been reasonably similar anywhere he played half his home games, it would take one level of translation away from statistical analysis. Then it would be less like translating from another language and more like translating from another dialect.

Granted, this is tricky when some stadiums are already built as they are and when natural factors, such as mile high air and marine layer fog, become factors that may or may not be predicted until it's too late (such as Target Field in Minnesota, where the dimensions are the same as in the Metrodome, but the ball forgets to carry in the new park).

But to the extent possible, would you like to see baseball get just a bit more in line with every other sport in creating some basic standards to allow stats to translate across different parks?

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