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Is Newark’s Rivefront Stadium the Coors Field of the Atlantic League?

riverfront-stadium

Revolution Rumblings delved into the world of sabermetrics in May of last year and we learned that former Rev Travis Ezi was not only the best outfielder in the Atlantic League — he was one of the best outfielders period.

So that idea got the braniacs at this site thinking of other ideas. What other sabermetric formulas can be used to analyze the Atlantic League?

Here’s what the guy who got a C-minus in Algebra 2 borrowed from other geniuses — “Park Factor.” I’ll list the formula below and then attempt to explain it in Lehman’s terms.

park-factor

Basically, Park Factor is used to determine “how much a specific ballpark contributes to the offensive production of a team or player.” In the above formula, the numerator is runs scored at home + runs allowed at home divided by home games while the denominator is runs scored on the road + runs allowed on the road divided by road games.

If the Park Factor is over 1, that indicates a team’s offensive production is aided by a certain ballpark. Here are some examples from Major League Baseball to wet your beaks before we get into the Atlantic League parks.

As you can see from the 2008 MLB Park Factors, the Ballpark at Arlington (1.142), Chase Field (1.135) and Coors Field (1.126) ranked as the top three parks in Park Factor — meaning that they’re hitter friendly and give hitters in those parks a definite advantage.

So that logic leads one to a couple of calculated estimations about the Atlantic League: 1) Newark’s Riverfront Stadium — a bandbox if there ever was one — must lead the way in Park Factor; 2) Clipper Magazine Stadium (Lancaster) and Regency Furniture Stadium (Southern Maryland), two parks with ridiculous short porches, shouldn’t be far behind.

Let’s see if this logic proved true:

  1. Regency Furniture Stadium (Southern Maryland) — 1.157
  2. Clipper Magazine Stadium (Lancaster) — 1.079
  3. Citibank Park (Long Island) — 1.032
  4. Sovereign Bank Stadium (York) — 1.028
  5. The Ballpark at Harbor Yard (Bridgeport) — 0.9955
  6. Riverfront Stadium (Newark) — 0.9563
  7. Commerce Bank Ballpark (Somerset) — 0.9133
  8. Campbell’s Field (Camden) — 0.9026

I’m guessing that your jaw dropped a bit by these results (mine certainly did). But here’s the thing to understand: just because Newark’s ballpark is ridiculously small doesn’t mean that the same dimensions aren’t in play for the opposing team. Right?

newarkbearsTo further that point, look at Newark as a whole from the ’08 season. The team hit a robust .314 at home but it also had a .292 road average. That road average is nothing to shake a stick at, as some of the old-timers like to say. So it’s safe to assume that Newark would have been an exceptional offensive team regardless of the park it played in (take a bow Val Majewski, Keith Reed, Cory Aldridge, Randall Simon and Ramon Castro).

Next up, look at Southern Maryland’s splits. The team hit .282 at home but only mustered a .252 average on the road while scoring 120 fewer runs away from Regency Furniture Stadium (427/307). Could this tie in with the fact that the Blue Crabs were an expansion team a year ago — meaning many of their players had never seen most Atlantic League parks before? I’m guessing that’s partly the case.

Lastly, think about Park Factor one other way. As a fellow sabermetric nut pointed out, the thin air of Colorado is not the only reason Coors Field is hitter friendly. The outfield there is also exceptionally huge, which forces outfielders to 1) Play deep; 2) Cover more ground; 3) Allow more non-home-run, extra-base hits (doubles and triples).

So apply this to the Atlantic League. Sure Newark’s Riverfront Stadium is small. But so is the ground that the left fielder has to cover. Center field may be another story — with its odd angles — but ultimately there’s less ground to cover in that park.

I’ll also include the home records of the eight Atlantic League teams in 2008 to add to the Park Factor debate:

  1. Southern Maryland — 44-27 (.620)
  2. Long Island — 43-28 (.606)
  3. York — 43-28 (.606)
  4. Newark — 40-30 (.571)
  5. Somerset — 39-30 (.565)
  6. Bridgeport — 38-30 (.559)
  7. Camden — 37-33 (.529)
  8. Lancaster — 37-33 (.529)

After looking at these figures, one will notice that three of the top four teams in Park Factor (Southern Maryland, Long Island and York) also had three of the best four home records in the Atlantic League. Lancaster was the anomaly here — but that ties in with the fact that the ‘Stormers were the worst team in the league overall a season ago (64-76).

That concludes the Park Factor explanation for the Atlantic League. And yours truly didn’t even get a headache.

Notes: (From Wikipedia) One criticism is that Park Factor does not account for differences in pitching between teams. An above average pitching staff may distort their home stadium’s Park Factor by making it seem more pitcher-friendly than it really is. … The formula used here is also not the only way to calculate Park Factor. Baseball Reference has a much more complicated equation here.

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One Response

  1. Good article Jeff. Newark’s park is as much of a bandbox as I have ever seen in baseball. The game I went to last year had at least a combined 6 home runs between the Bears and the Revs. Their left field is as short as York’s, minus the 30 foot wall.I thought it was no coinidence that South Maryland, York and Lancaster were in the top 4. Each of these parks has a row of advertising above the outfield, bordering the back of the stadium that could possibly cut down wind blowing in from the outfield. Just a theory, I have no math to back it up.

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