Regardless of Venue, Homers Are Hard to Come By in San Diego

The folks at Gaslamp Ball have a fun article up about polarizing topics for Padres fans. Among the topics is Petco Park’s effect on offense.

It’s a legitimate concern, but part of the discussion centers on a fallacy: “Fans used to seeing home runs fly out of a Qualcomm Stadium at an average rate were bored by the low scoring and defensive driven games.”

Home runs didn’t fly out of Qualcomm Stadium at an average rate. Here are home run park factors and MLB rank for the Padres’ home venues over the past 10 years:

Year   HR Rnk
2001 .881  26
2002 .758  27
2003 .806  26
2004 .691  30
2005 .747  30
2006 .982  15(t)
2007 .685  29
2008 .743  30
2009 .721  29
2010 .856  22

Aside from that bizarre 2006 season, it has been difficult to hit home runs in San Diego for many years (the last time that wasn’t true was ’97), regardless of venue. Despite complaints by certain players, moving to Petco Park didn’t change things much.

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14 Responses »

  1. Pitching, defense, speed and OBP can win anywhere; power only wins in band boxes.

  2. Is it possible that 2006 was the result of the Padres just having more power in the line-up? That was the Piazza year I am pretty sure, so the Padres probably got ~ 35 HRs just from the catchers that year. Add in Cam, Adrian, Giles, KG and even Barfield. I think that was just a line-up that did damage compared to the other years sampled. Were there any other years in that sample that the Padres had 3 guys with over 20 HRs and 6 with over 10?

  3. Maybe I should have checked the numbers first… I think it was where the power cambe from that threw me off (C, CF, SS, 2B)

  4. @ Steve: No matter where you play you still need power. OBP is only half the equation–you have to get on base and hit for power to score runs. Petco just has a dampening effect that you have to live with. It doesn’t affect everyone equally–right-handed hitters actually see a much smaller effect than lefties (I think the park factor for righties is only about 96). But the other team experiences it as well, and the Padres only play half their games at home.

    You aren’t going to win with a team of Luis Durangos. You still need guys to give some pop in the lineup. Part of the issue I think is that most Padre teams in the Petco era just haven’t had very good hitters. Every year, the Phillies come to town and mash, because they have good hitters. If the Padres draft and develop well, you’ll see better hitters and more runs scored.

  5. @Zach: The Phillies hit a robust .163/.250/.250 at Petco last season with 4 total extra base hits, they won with pitching and D holding the Padres to only 3 runs the entire weekend.

  6. @Zach: I guess I should have clarified it by saying homeruns only win games in band boxes, I agree you can’t win playing station to station baseball but you don’t need to hit homeruns to win.