Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doing Splits

I don't play fantasy baseball, but I would like to give you some advice if you do.

Let someone else draft Matt Holliday.

I'm guessing there is some sucker in your league that is going to have their perception skewed by his 2nd place finish in the 2007 NL MVP voting or Woody Paige's homeristic knob slobbery. Perhaps they remember the play at the plate in the 13th inning against the Padres in the 163rd game of the '07 season and subsequent World Series run and snatch him up in the first round. Unfortunately for them, he will now be hitting in the spacious McAfee Coliseum which would harm any hitter's offensive production, let alone someone with Holliday's home/road splits.

If you are a fan of any team with money to spend in the 2010 offseason, you may want to pay attention to this as well, because he will be a free agent (represented by Scott Boras) next year.

Five years is a pretty damn large sample size and those differences are staggering. I can see a player's slugging percentage varying dramatically from home to away based on the dimensions and conditions of other parks, but his average and OBP are both far lower away from Coors. As friend of the blog Simon said on GChat yesterday, he's is like Manny Ramirez at home and Xavier Nady on the road. Look at those guys' stats. He's dead on.

The good news for Holliday owners and A's fans is that his numbers on the road have continually improved throughout his career. Although he didn't have a particularly good year in 2008, his splits were the least dramatic of his five years in the league. That was both a function of his home numbers dropping (especially slugging) and his road numbers getting better.

On other astonishing nugget I found along while perusing his Baseball Reference pages was that his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .324 on the road, which is well above the league average (+/- .290). But at home... it's .382. Wow.

(Chart via FanGraphs)

That's not a single season fluke. That took place over the course of 5 seasons and almost 350 games. Granted, the better a hitter is, the better his BABIP will be, given that the ball comes off the bat of the best players the hardest, making it more difficult to field. That said, Manny Ramirez's career BABIP is .344, Albert Puljos's is .323 and A-Rod's is .327. Holliday's overall is .356.

Coors Field installed a humidor in 2002 to counteract the effects of altitude, but it appears as though BABIP is skewed higher in Denver. Todd Helton has a pretty significant home/away BABIP split (.358 to .313). Garrett Atkins (.351 to .279) and Troy Tulowitski (.330 to .302) do too.

It should be interesting to watch Holliday this season, and as fans of AL teams, we will have a few chances to do so. I'm still a little dumbfounded by these numbers, but all signs point to the former Rockie falling off this year with out the assistance of altitude. One thing is for sure though, no matter what happens, Scott Boras is going to be demanding way too much for him next offseason.

1 comment:

  1. The only guy who ever was able to really continue hitting well after leaving Coors was Andres Galarraga. Still I think Holliday will have a good season and ultimately proving he can do well in McAfee will show that he can play well just about anywhere and increase his value in free agency. Obviously Coors and McAfee are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but .308 on the road isn't terrible.