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Environmental Oddities, Reconciled
2003-06-13 08:49
by Jon Weisman

Updating this post ...

Dodger Stadium is a pitchers' park. Yet as of May 2, the Dodgers were hitting better at Dodger Stadium than on the road, and Dodger pitchers were pitching better on the road than at home.

Since then, things have normalized somewhat:

Through June 12
.681...OPS of Dodger batters at home
.648...OPS of Dodger batters on road

.608...OPS allowed by Dodger pitchers at home
.637...OPS allowed by Dodger pitchers on road

On May 2, I had found that Dodger pitchers had been above-average in hitters' parks and below average in pitchers' parks - the opposite of how it should be. With further study, I concluded that if things reverted to form, the Dodgers' road record would improve considerably.

The reason for this was:

1) The Dodger margin of victory in road games in hitters' parks was high (4.2 runs per game), meaning that if the pitchers reverted to form, the Dodgers could still win.

2) The Dodger margin of defeat in road games in pitchers' parks was lower (2.6 runs per game), meaning that if the pitchers reverted to form, the Dodgers would start winning.

This has come to pass.

7-9.....Dodger road record before May 2
10-5...Dodger road record after May 2

Now, here is an update of my chart from May 2, with:

1) the cities the Dodgers have played in
2) the park factor of those cities from 2000-2002 (100 being neutral, below 100 favoring pitchers, above 100 favoring hitters)
3) Dodger runs per game in 2003
4) Dodger runs allowed per game in 2003

Los Angeles......91.0...3.4...3.1
San Diego..........91.3...1.8...4.0
San Francisco...91.0...2.3...3.3
New York Mets..93.7...3.3...1.7
*Just 2001-2002

Obviously, the quality of the team in a given city affects the amount of runs scored and allowed in a given city. But since the Dodgers are in the unique position of having the worst batting and best pitching in the league, it sort of cancels out.

The Dodgers have played only 12 of their 65 games in hitters' parks this year. Except for an aberrant performance in Colorado, they have scored well in those parks. (To me, "well" for the Dodgers is above four runs per game.)

The Colorado aberration is countered by a poor pitching performance in San Diego. Otherwise, in their 53 pitchers' park games, the Dodgers have pitched well (below four runs per game).

So, the room for improvement that existed on May 2 has been filled, achieved, whatever. The strange pre-May 2 pitching stats hinted that the Dodgers were underperforming. That's no longer true. What you see now is basically what you get.

As the Dodgers head into Cleveland this weekend, playing in an above-average park and facing three left-handed starters, look for their offense to revitalize and look for their pitching to struggle, especially with Andy Ashby appearing in this series and Kevin Brown absent. But overall, look for the Dodgers to come out ahead. The fact that the Dodgers are outscoring and out OPSing opponents at home and on the road signifies that the Dodgers are a winning team (like the Giants, by the way).

The struggle between the Dodgers' bad hitting and their good pitching favors the pitching.

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