It’s best to use three years of data when looking at fantasy park factors, so take the following with a grain of salt. That said, let’s examine some early season park outliers that have jumped out, which could be meaningful given the many changes this season (including a new baseball, stricter rules on the sticky stuff and humidors throughout the league, among others).
Philadelphia (and KC) has been the toughest place to hit in 2022
Citizens Bank Park ranks last in ESPN’s Park Factor and MLB’s Statcast version after being neutral in runs scored over the last three years (according to The Bill James Handbook).
Philadelphia has generally been considered a very good hitter’s park, as its boosted home runs by 12 percent over the last three seasons (fourth-best in the NL). It’s been neutral for power so far in 2022, while also increasing strikeouts the second-most in the league.
Citizens Bank Park has been especially brutal for left-handed hitters, which helps partially explain Kyle Schwarber‘s disappointing season (and is exactly the opposite of what was expected from his move to Philadelphia).
Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City has seen a similar decline in offense. While never favorable for homers, only Coors Field boosted batting average more than KC over the previous three seasons before entering 2022 (helping increase runs scored as well).
This year, however, Kauffman Stadium has been one of the league’s best pitcher’s parks. Salvador Perez sports a .154/.179/.277 line at home this season!
St. Louis, San Francisco and Miami among the newly favorable hitter’s parks
Statcast had Busch Stadium as the second-toughest place to homer last season. This year it’s been the second most favourable venue for homers (and Coors Field belongs in its own HR tier).
Considering the humidor was introduced last season in Busch Stadium, it’s entirely unclear why there have been such dramatic changes in St. Louis, but fantasy managers with Paul Goldschmidt (241 wRC+ at home!) and Nolan Arenado (162 wRC+ at home) aren’t complaining.
San Francisco has been trending more hitter-friendly since changing its dimensions a couple of seasons ago, but Oracle Park has really become favorable for batting in 2022, especially for righties. Evan Longoria should be added in fantasy leagues now, as the newly installed humidor appears to be favorable for SF hitters given the Bay Area climate.
Marlins Park was by far the best place to pitch last season, but Miami has suddenly become a hitter’s park in 2022, including the most favorable for lefties. The dramatic shift is seemingly a mystery but makes the performances by Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López all that more impressive.
The Jesse Winker trade
Winker slugged 24 homers over 110 games last season; he has two over 48 games this year.
Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati has been MLB’s best hitter’s park this season, surpassing even Coors Field. As usual, Cincinnati has been a big boost for left-handed power, whereas Seattle has been a hindrance. Winker has a career .930 OPS in GAB; he’s batting .200/.299/.280 at his current home this season.
As fantasy managers feared, Winker saw a significant fantasy hit with the trade from Cincinnati to Seattle despite joining a much more productive lineup.
Checking in on the new dimensions in Baltimore
With the left field fences moved in significantly, Camden Yards has predictably transformed from MLB’s best park for homers for right-handed batters last season to one of the toughest places for righty power. While this was hardly unexpected, the effect has been extreme, tangibly hurting the fantasy values of Trey Mancini (zero homers at home), Ryan Mountcastle and other Baltimore right-handed (or switch) hitters.