In 2022, the Seattle Mariners played their 24th season at T-Mobile Park, née Safeco Field. It was one of the club’s most successful campaigns ever, but it was also another triumph for the park itself in re-establishing its reputation as one of the premier pitcher’s parks in Major League Baseball. In the dead of winter here still, awaiting the warm embrace of Spring Training, 스포츠토토 I am curious if there is a particular culprit for this offensive backslide by all players when they set foot in the Magenta Center. I’m also inclined to think the park plays at least some role in Seattle’s efforts (or lack thereof) to lure quality free agent hitters to Seattle. And I suspect the club has recognized these same issues, and recognized that the “three true outcome” style hitters who walk, strikeout, or homer most frequently will ultimately have more success than most at their current home field.
By the park factors of Baseball Savant using Statcast data, T-Mobile Park was, for the second-straight season, the most difficult park to hit in in all of MLB. Other sites, like ESPN, also keep park factor data; however, Savant’s shows a bit more depth in analyzing the parks themselves, whereas ESPN simply compares runs scored by a team on the road vs. at home (T-Mobile Park ranks 28th). The chart below (and the link) will show you that same Statcast data from Baseball Savant in greater detail, and a few points stand out.
T-Mobile Park is in the cellar overall as an offensive environment, a full nine percent more offense-suppressing than a league-average park and a whole 20% tougher to hit in than Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the second-most hitter-friendly confines in the league behind elevation-aided Coors Field which will reign supreme in perpetuity until MLB expands to Bogotá or Mexico City. But despite its obvious low-offense layout, as has been the case since the team moved in the fences in left and center field prior to the 2013 season (outside of 2013 itself), the park has actually been a perfectly reasonable environment for hitting home runs. T-Mobile Park actually ranked a tick ABOVE-average in terms of home runs in 2022, marine layer be damned. However, in every other category, it was a nightmare to try and make hay at the plate, as Seattle’s home field was one of the hardest places to land hits of any kind in the field of play, and in particular it was the hardest place to triple in all of MLB.
The lesson? If you want to score in Seattle, it seems, you’ve got to put the ball over the fence, because any lesser contact is destined for less success here than anywhere else.
If we expand the data to the a three-year rolling sample from 2020-2022, it shows the same conclusion for T-Mobile Park: 30th out of 30, and even more dramatically so.
The three-year sample is best practice for evaluating this sort of effect as it provides a sample size of 16-17,000 plate appearances and helps shake out some impacts from any extreme individual hitter or season. However, there is one important data point for 2022 in particular. In 2022, every MLB club and ballpark was required to use a humidor to store baseballs prior to use for the first time, in an effort to better standardize playing environments to some degree. At parks in drier climates, the humidor should have a moistening effect, reducing the flight distance of the ball on contact. In wetter (or more water-rich air-having) areas like Seattle, the impact could actually in theory have been an increase in flight distance, particularly given the balls were set to be stored at 70 degrees Farenheit and 55% relative humidity league-wide. But T-Mobile Park has had a humidor for longer than most of MLB, having installed one prior to the 2020 season.