02/10/10 3:22 PM EST
Debunking Citizens Bank Park myths
Stadium does favor hitters, but not as much as fans think
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Hitters at Citi Field had complained that the ballpark played like the Grand Canyon.
Sound somewhat familiar?
The Phillies raised the left-field fence at Citizens Bank Park 2 1/2 feet and moved it back five feet following the 2005 season, less than two years after it opened. Pitchers at Citizens Bank Park had complained that the ballpark played like a bandbox.
Citizens Bank Park is still regarded as a hitters' park, but how much of one is it?
"The Bill James Handbook 2010" has a statistic called park indices. In the case of Citizens Bank Park, it neutralizes the Phillies' makeup and isolates the effects of the park. It accomplishes this by comparing what the Phils and their opponents accomplish at the Bank to what they accomplish on the road.
A park with an index of 100 is neutral, meaning it is fair to both hitters and pitchers. An index higher than 100 favors hitters. An index below 100 favors pitchers. For example, Citizens Bank Park had a 101 home run index last season, which meant it was only one percent easier to hit a homer at the Bank than the rest of the ballparks in the National League.
But let's look at the past three seasons to get a better feel for how the Bank truly plays.
From 2007-09, the Bank had a 103 run index, which meant it was three percent easier to score a run at the Bank than other NL ballparks. That ranked sixth in the league behind Coors Field (118), Chase Field (115), Wrigley Field (113), Sun Life Stadium (105) and Great American Ball Park (105).
Fans might think it is inaccurate to say it is easier to score runs in Florida than Philadelphia, but there is an explanation for that.
Citizens Bank Park had a 114 home run index the past three seasons, which ranked third in the league. Florida had a 96 home run index, which ranked ninth. But Florida also had a 102 hit index, a 104 doubles index and a 105 triples index. The Bank, meanwhile, had a 101 hit index, a 97 doubles index and an 84 triples index.
So while it is much easier to hit homers at the Bank because of its cozy dimensions, those cozy dimensions also make it more difficult to hit doubles and triples. And while it is harder to hit homers in Florida, it is much easier to hit doubles and triples.
Is the Bank a hitters' park? Yes, it is a hitters' park, but it is not Coors Field, Wrigley Field or Chase Field. Its three-year run index of 103 actually is tied with San Francisco's AT&T Park and just one percentage point higher than Nationals Park (102) -- both of which are considered pitchers' parks.
If you are a hitter, would you rather play at Citizens Bank Park or Citi Field? The answer is simple: Citizens Bank Park. But James' numbers suggests the Bank isn't as obscenely geared toward hitters as one might think.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.