Petco Park No Longer the Pitchers Park Bettors Thought it to Be: When to Back the 'Over' in San Diego?

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 3:16 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2015 3:16 PM GMT

Runs are up in pitching-friendly Petco Park this year thanks to the addition of some fresh sluggers in San Diego. In this write-up, we offer an angle to support the Padres' hitters preying on poor pitching at home.  

Roughly a third of the way through the season, the San Diego Padres sit six games out of first place in the ultra-competitive NL West with a record of 32-34. The franchise has high expectations this year, entering the season with a win-now mentality after splashing the cash on some big bats (Matt Kemp and Wil Myers), and trading for superstars Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel. The Padres' brass, however, is already in panic mode, firing long-time manager Bud Black earlier this week in an effort to jump start a squad they believe should be performing better. Despite their new acquisitions, many baseball insiders were hesitant to call San Diego World Series contenders at the start of the season, though, as they identified some of the team's holes not addressed by the front office—poor defense and a questionable bullpen (outside of Kimbrel) to be exact. But boy can they hit! Averaging 4.7 runs per game at home (4.23 overall), they have many baseball analysts and sports investors scratching their heads at the scoring taking place in the pitching-friendly confines of Petco Park. With this in mind, and despite their sub .500 record, we offer a situation where one can potentially profit off the Padres' batting bonanza.

Since 2010, the San Diego Padres are 41-13 in Petco Park when the game total closes at seven runs or higher, their opponents are averaging 4.5 runs a game or less entering the contest, and the opposing starter enters with a 4.45 ERA or greater. This scenario carries an average closing line of -130, and has returned +25 units or 35% ROI during this time. This angle sees the Padres prey on poor-performing starters while avoiding a slugfest with the top five or so teams in MLB in run scoring. Essentially, one can surmise that even the pitching perks provided by Petco aren't enough for struggling pitchers to overcome high-leverage situations associated with a road start.

To see a game total of seven runs or higher in San Diego against an opposing team averaging less than 4.45 runs a game, however, the Padres have to be hitting the ball really well, or have a struggling pitcher tossing as well. The former is most likely to occur with this year's team, and we should see our angle pop-up a handful of times throughout the rest of the season—it's 3-1 thus far in 2015. At this point in mid-June, the Padres have played roughly 35 home games. Below is a chart showing the average number of runs per game through this period (35 home games) for each respective season:

 

Season

Padres Runs per Game

Opponent Runs per Game

Total

2015

4.7

4.0

8.7

2014

3.1

3.4

6.5

2013

4.0

4.1

8.1

2012

3.1

4.0

7.1

2011

2.5

3.6

6.1

2010

4.4

2.9

7.3

 

One thing to note here is that close to half of our situation's sample size (24) occurred in 2013, the first season in which the Padres' brass moved the Petco fences in to stimulate offense, and as evidenced in the table, the year with the most total runs outside of 2015. I doubt we will see that many seven runs or higher games close in the second half of the year under our situation, as the betting market probably struggled to make sense of the park's new dimensions. In fact, the average Petco total closed at 7.3 in 2013, whereas it settled from 6.6 to 6.9 in each other season since 2010. This team, though, is built to hit, and to hit in Petco, which seems like an oxymoron. Since the field alterations, there is flimsy evidence to suggest offense has increased slightly in San Diego (more home runs for left-handed hitters, and more doubles and triples for right-handed hitters), but it's still too early to tell as park factor data usually operate on a five year regression. Nevertheless, expect the betting public to underestimate the damage this lineup can do against poor pitchers in Petco.

Looking ahead at the Padres schedule, they host the Rockies, Marlins, Phillies, and Reds within their next seven home series. Keep an eye out for Colorado's average runs per game when placing your MLB picks, as a hot stint in Coors field can boost their confidence and push their run-scoring averages above our threshold, but the other three teams will likely arrive in San Diego with average to below-average run scoring potential and carrying some back-end starters with ERA's that will make one blush.

As always, use this information to support your leans, and best of luck.  

comment here