Last season we as Marlins fans made a pretty big deal about all the home runs that superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton was potentially robbed of due to the new deep dimensions at Marlins Park. Many fans were not pleased that the Marlins front office did not build the stadium to cater to their best player. Most were clamoring for the team to move the fences in after seeing just one season of data.
With the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners recently moving their fences in, Marlins fans felt this was the best course of action for the Marlins to take. The deep dimensions were unfairly made a scapegoat in a season where nothing went the Marlins way.
I have always been a fan of parks with deeper dimensions, as it’s the best building block to how I would prefer to build an MLB franchise, around great pitching. A bigger ballpark is more likely to draw big time free agent pitchers, as they know they can build their legacy easier than compared to a bandbox park. All of this, of course, is a moot point, as the Marlins off-season
lies moves will make any free agent think twice before ever considering the team as a destination.
All season long, I heard that Stanton was not as effective as an hitter at home, because Marlins Park took away from his strength, his power. I bought into that narrative as well, as I had not had a chance to look at Stanton’s home/road splits.
Yesterday as I was looking at Stanton’s stats from 2012, as I have do quite a lot when I get depressed thinking about the Marlins bleak 2013 season outlook, and finally took a look at his home/away splits. Here is a look at those:
Interestingly enough, when Stanton was struggling to hit balls out of the park, he was able to make more contact and got a few lucky bounces, as evidenced by his BABIP. Stanton hit 32 points higher and was able to reach base at a higher clip. His .372 OBP would have been tied with David Freese for 22nd best in baseball. Stanton predictably saw a dip in his slugging, but the trade off with reaching base evened out Stanton’s line.
Maybe a look at Stanton’s underlying statistics can paint a picture of whether Stanton was a better overall hitter at home, as opposed to on the road.
Unfortunately, the numbers don’t paint much of a better picture. Stanton’s walk rate and strikeout rate did not see a major differential in his splits. Stanton hit the same amount of line drives, but did tend to hit more flyballs at Marlins Park, as opposed to more groundballs on the road. Stanton did hit more home runs per fly ball on the road, which is not surprising, as his slugging percentage told us that above.
So the question I had after looking at this, can Stanton sustain being a .300+ hitter at home?
Not likely. Stanton was helped out by his massive BABIP of .381 at home, as opposed to his .296 BABIP on the road. His career BABIP stands at .328. So with some regression, you can still expect his average to sit around .275-.280 at home, possibly even .290.
Stanton’s numbers on the road better reflect the type of hitter he is. Unless he cuts down on his strikeouts, it is unlikely Stanton can sustain an average like he did for the 2012 season.
It could also be possible that Stanton has developed an approach at home that helps him utilize the spacious dimensions of Marlins Park. Of course, in order for this theory to be proven true or false, there will have to be more than one season of data. So this is something that we should keep our eyes on during the 2013 season.
But to answer my original question in the title, Stanton was just as an effective as a hitter at home as he was on the road, even if it was purely due to his inflated BABIP, which made up for his loss of power at home.