We discussed some of the MLB parks that are friendly to hitters, now it's time to take a look at stadiums favoring pitchers and how they affect the MLB odds.
Horace Greeley advised Americans nearly 150 yeas ago to go west and seek their fortunes. The same advise today might apply to MLB pitchers who are looking for friendly ballparks to ply their trade.
Fans who love low-scoring games are in luck if they're living along the West Coast. Five of the six stadiums which sit within 25 miles of the Pacific Ocean ranked in the top 6 toughest venues to score in a season ago, and the sixth was in the top 10.
Five of the six also proved to be profitable for gamblers betting the UNDER.
The only real debate is which of the half-dozen parks deserves the No. 1 ranking, and like almost any other argument in sports, that comes down to what stats an individual gives more priority among their criteria. Long-term results, according to the fine folks at BaseballReference.com, point to AT&T Park in San Francisco over Seattle's Safeco Field and San Diego's Petco Park.
Safeco produced the fewest runs in 2012 but actually was easier to poke home runs out than AT&T. Each of those stadiums ranked tougher in both areas than Petco, and all three are relatively new ballparks with Seattle's arena the oldest having opened in 1999.
Based on O/U results in 2012, bettors might lean towards Safeco Field. Mariners home games finished 31-47-4 O/U/P against the MLB Odds a year ago when Seattle pitchers ranked third in the American League with a 3.76 ERA. That nearly 13 unit return for UNDER wagers was one of the best in the majors for the season.
AT&T Park went 36-41-1 O/U/P on the 2012 campaign while Giants hurlers posted a 3.68 ERA (5th-lowest) and 1.275 WHIP (7th). The UNDER got off
to a strong showing with 29 of the first 42 games failing to reach the total. The final 36 regular season games went OVER at a 24-11-1 clip, then 7-1 to the high side in the postseason. San Francisco's diamond was also the toughest to swat a home run, and a 421-foot distance to right-center plus a 25-foot wall in right were big reasons why.
If you guessed Petco Park was the only West Coast arena to turn a profit for OVER bettors in 2012, give yourself a pat on the back. San Diego home games finished 43-37-1 for totals wagers, though San Diego's arena rated third-toughest on long balls.
Angel Stadium Toughest On Hitters Of Remaining West Coast Trio
There is a lot of buzz about the potent lineup in Anaheim now that Josh Hamilton is part of a batting order that also includes Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Just how much additional scoring results at Angel Stadium remains to be seen as the park ranked in the top 4 of toughest places to score runs each of the past three seasons.
The Big A was the sixth-toughest park to hammer a home run out in 2012, a full eight rungs lower than Detroit's Comerica Park which is generally considered a tough locale for hitters. The UNDER got off to a good start at games played in Anaheim last year, but the record at season's end was a fairly level 38-40-3 O/U/P.
Up I-5 in Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium was only slightly friendlier to UNDER bettors at 36-40-5 despite finishing 28th among 30 parks in scoring. The diamond at Chavez Ravine surrendered the ninth-most home runs, but helping keep the scoring down were fewer walks per game than places like Petco, AT&T and Safeco.
O.co Coliseum up in Oakland is the last of the six pitcher-friendly venues on the West Coast, and the huge expanse of foul territory in play has long been a contributing factor. Athletics home games were 35-45-1 to the low side of totals during the regular season before an 0-2-1 mark in the playoffs.
Meanwhile Back East...
A couple of ballparks on the right side of the map also rate very highly on the pitcher-friendly front, and actually proved to be the most profitable for UNDER bettors MLB picks in 2012.
PNC Park, probably my favorite of the new generation of stadiums (opening post-1990), consistently ranks as a good venue for pitchers. Long-term park factors place Pittsburgh's field just behind those in San Diego and Anaheim, and 2012 totals went 30-48-3 O/U/P.
Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg did even better than that at 29-49-3. The Rays' home park ranked even with Citi Field in New York in terms of scoring, and far tougher on home run hitters.
Be sure to check out my article on the best parks for hitters!