Home Run Blues

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Marlins are hitting fewer home runs at home than on the road, but despite speculation that the team should move in the home run fences at Marlins Park, the team is standing pat:
"We want it to be pitcher friendly, but fair to hitters who get all of it," [David] Samson said. "No cheapies. If you get it, we want it to go."
Here are the numbers. The Marlins have hit 13 home runs at home, compared to 19 on the road. Accounting for the fact that Miami has played more road games than home games thus far, that stat is no good. Home run percentages and the rate at which fly balls leave the park are the stats to examine.

Not including Tuesday's game (the stats from which had not been incorporated into Fangraphs' season tallies when I looked all this up last night), the Marlins are hitting home runs in 2.4% of their home at bats, compared to 2.8% of road at bats. Miami's home HR/FB% is 8.3%, while on the road 11.0% of fly balls hit by Marlins leave the park.

How does this compare to Sun Life Stadium? In 2011, the Marlins hit home runs in 2.7% of home at bats, and their home HR/FB% was 9.8%.

Clearly, Marlins Park is supressing power numbers. But it also has some other interesting effects. The Marlins have hit 8 triples at home this year (including Emilio Bonifacio's triple on Tuesday night), compared to 3 on the road. The expansive outfield could be one reason speedy hitters like Bonifacio and Jose Reyes are turning more doubles into triples at home.

Beyond that is the simple fact that whatever effect the Marlins are feeling at home will be duplicated by their opponents. The numbers bear this out. Marlins pitchers have posted a HR/FB% of 5.2% at home, versus 8.3% on the road.

I have not tested these numbers for statistical significance (I'll do that at the end of the month when we have a little bit bigger sample size), but suspect these differences are significant. Even so, the Marlins are not a power hitting team per se. Apart from Giancarlo Stanton, this team is full of guys who can hit to the gaps and get extra bases using speed. That's a good lineup to have for this park. Throw in the fact that the cavernous outfield dimensions mean the pitching staff can suppress home runs, and I think the Marlins' home run problem is not a problem at all.

Unless, of course, you consider the fact that we don't get to see our ugly/beautiful home run sculpture light up nearly enough.


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