FanPost

Please Stop Calling McKechnie Field a Hitters' Park

Fairly frequently, I read/hear someone write/say that McKechnie Field (the Bradenton Marauders' home park) is hitter-friendly. None of the people who write/say this ever seem to provide any evidence, though. And, in fact, it's not really true.

I think this rumor started last spring when Dejan Kovacevic pointed out that there were a bunch of wind-aided homeruns during ST at McKechnie. It's true that during March and April this part of Florida tends to have some high winds, but things get back to normal around the beginning of May. I doubt that the wind has significant long-term effects on run-scoring in Bradenton.

But is there any objective evidence that McKechnie is a hitters' park? Actually, there is, but it is unfortunately inconclusive. According to Jeff Sackmann, the park multiplier for McKechnie for 2010 was 1.10 on overall run-scoring. The three-year weighted multiplier was 1.05. This suggests that McKechnie is a hitters' park, but because we only have one year of data, it is unreliable. We don't know if McKechnie played as a hitters' park because it *is* a hitters' park or because Tony Sanchez and Quincy Latimore, et al, happened to hit well there last year. We have correlation, but not necessarily causation. Instead of saying, "McKechnie is a hitters' park," it would be better to say, "The evidence is inconclusive, but McKechnie played as a hitters' park last year."

But that's not all. Park factors/multipliers only state how a park plays relative to its league. You still have to consider league factors to understand the run environment as a whole. The Florida State League is the least hitter-friendly of all the full-season leagues. A hitters' park in such a tough league might still be a tougher place to hit than a pitchers' park in a hitters' league. And in fact, this is exactly the case. Compare Bradenton to Altoona, for instance. According to Sackmann's park-multipliers, Altoona depresses runs, relative to the Eastern League average, exactly as much as Bradenton increases them relative to the FSL (5% in each direction). But the average runs per game in the EL is 4.63, while in the FSL it is 4.18. Five percent lower than 4.63 is 4.40; five percent greater than 4.18 is 4.39. Altoona is actually ever-so-slightly easier to hit in than Bradenton! (Actually, technically, it's just that the run environment at Altoona is higher. Obviously, AA is tougher than A+, but the raw stats of a hitter at Altoona will look ever-so-slightly better than the raw stats of a hitter at Bradenton, just because of park/league effects.)

So please stop calling McKechnie a hitters' park. We don't have conclusive evidence of that, and the best evidence we do have suggests it's no easier to hit there than at any of our other minor league parks.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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