It's never too early to start doing your homework for the 2015 Major League Baseball season with spring training about three months away. Here are three hitter-friendly stadiums you should consider betting 'over' totals on at sportsbooks.
Coors Field, Denver
Coors Field has been home to the Colorado Rockies since 1995 -- the team played its first two seasons of existence at Mile High Stadium -- and pretty much without fail has been the most hitter-friendly park in the majors since then. The reason is obvious: the thin air of Denver. There's simply no denying that the ball carries further with less dense air. Thus the Rockies are always among the runs leaders in baseball because they get to play 81 games a year there. It's also why Colorado's pitching staff generally has one of the worst ERAs in the majors, because the Rockies' pitchers have to play 81 games there. The Rockies always are going to have to overpay for pitching -- hello Mike Hampton -- because free-agent hurlers know their numbers are going to skyrocket if they sign with the Rockies. It's also why Colorado is really focusing on taking pitching early in the annual amateur draft. The franchise really has no other choice.
Coors Field had the highest overall rating on ESPN's Park Factors, meaning it was the most offensive park in the majors in 2014. Park Factor takes into account the amount of runs a team scores and allows at home per game and divides it by the number of runs the team scores and allows on the road per game. Anything over 1.000 favors hitters and anything under pitchers. Rockies home games averaged 11.65 runs last season and their road games 7.76. Divide the latter by the former and you get Coors' Park Factor of 1.501.
Coors was second in Home Run Factor to Yankee Stadium. The Rockies led the majors by far with 500 runs scored at home -- No. 2 was Toronto with 387 -- and were third with 755 runs scored overall because they scored an MLB-worst 255 on the road. The 'over' hit at sportsbooks in 43 of the Rockies' 81 home games. If shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had stayed healthy he might have won the batting title and NL MVP. At home he hit an incredible .417 with 14 homers in 163 at-bats. On the road: .257 with seven dingers in 152 at-bats. So, yeah, playing at Coors Field makes a difference. Tulo's teammate, Justin Morneau, did win the batting title.
What are some other best parks for hitters? find out here.
Globe Life Park in Arlington
The home of the Texas Rangers ranks No. 2 since 2010 by noted baseball statistician Bill James as the most offensively friendly ballpark in the majors. In the scorching-hot summers in the Dallas area, there tend to be jet streams that flow out from the plate to the outfield, thus obviously benefitting the hitters for home runs.
Last season Globe Life Park in Arlington only ranked seventh on ESPN's Park Factor among top offensive stadiums and 17th in Home Run Factor. So why did the Rangers rank just 17th in the majors with 637 runs, 26th in runs at home (with 298) and 27th with 51 dingers at home? Simple: Injuries. Big offseason addition Prince Fielder was expected to hit 30-40 home runs, but he lasted just 42 games due to injury. The other big acquisition, Shin-Soo Choo, played 123 games. Mitch Moreland, another power guy, managed only 52. Jurickson Profar missed the entire season. The Rangers' home run leader was Adrian Beltre with 19. That's all a fluke. Because of the weak offense, Texas was not a good home 'over' bet at sportsbooks as the Rangers were just 32-43-6 'over/under' at home.
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Fenway Park, Boston
James ranks Fenway as the No. 3 offensive park in the majors since 2010. Fenway has very short lines, with left field only 310 feet, although protected by the 37-foot-high Green Monster, and right field a scant 302 feet. It's why left-handers like David Ortiz love hitting at Fenway, while right-handers often have to settle for doubles off the wall.
Fenway ranked fifth on ESPN's Park Factor last season and 27th in Home Run Factor. The Sox were just 17th in runs at home overall and 29th in dingers at home. Why? Injuries certainly played a role and the Sox also tried to go with several youngsters who didn't pan out. Ortiz had a great season with 35 homers and 104 RBIs but no other player had more than 17 homers or 55 knocked in. Shane Victorino played in only 51 games. Will Middlebrooks 63. Mike Napoli 119. Kids such as Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. really struggled at the plate. This is why Boston is aggressively going after Giants free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Because of the disappointing offense, Boston was just 36-45 'over/under' on MLB odds at home in 2014.
Don't forget to take a look at the best ball parks for pitchers article I wrote.