According to ESPN Park Factors, Miller Park in Milwaukee has been the friendliest to home runs so far in 2015, as hitters are averaging 2.049 home runs per game at the Brewers’ home park. Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is second on the list at 1.460 home runs per game, while Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore is third at 1.446.
None of this is very surprising, as these parks are known to be home run friendly environments.
On the bottom of the list, are the usual suspects that one would expect to be there as well – AT&T Park in San Francisco sits at the bottom, as hitters have averaged 0.515 home runs per game at the Giants home. Marlins Park gets the penultimate listing (even with Giancarlo Stanton playing half of his games there), while other home run deserts as O.co Coliseum in Oakland and Safeco Field in Seattle fill out the bottom of the list.
While there are many factors that go into how ‘home run friendly’ a park is (how a team is constructed: pitching staffs, everyday lineup, teams in division, interleague schedule…etc.), there are some parks that just do not like home runs.
For instance, take a look at Eric Hosmer’s 429-foot blast versus Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians on May 7th.
A well-hit ball, right? Yes. A home run in every MLB Park? No.
While Hosmer had no issue clearing the wall at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, that would not have been the case if he was playing 1,846 miles to the West.
Assuming everything occurred exactly like it did on May 7th, had Hosmer hit this ball in AT&T Park instead of Kauffman Park (listed 28th on ESPN Park Factors), it would not have been a home run (as the illustration below points out).
Why is this?
There are certainly a few factors.
As Dr. Alan Nathan’s very informative tweet shows us, the wind has a significant effect on ball distance.
Looking at the ESPN Home Run Tracker tells us the apex of Hosmer’s home run was only 60 feet – a line drive home run if you will. Therefore, the ball Hosmer hit was affected very little by the wind due to its low apex (wind being a big factor most of the time at AT&T Park).
Effect of 5 mph wind on fly ball: in: >drag, >lift, >distance, >apex, >T out: <drag, <lift, >distance, <apex, <T pic.twitter.com/QQeLEtBeMn
— Alan Nathan (@pobguy) June 2, 2015
These, more than likely, are what sent Hosmer’s ball over the fence at Kauffman but what would have kept it inside AT&T Park.
As it were, Hosmer plays in the AL Central and not the NL West, and therefore doesn’t have to worry about hitting a ball 429 feet for anything less than a home run.