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Donít Be Roid-iculous (Coosin Larry), Part III
2004-12-06 00:49
by Mike Carminati

Part I and II

Apparently, the debate is over and Barry Bonds is already guilty in the court of public opinion. The clearly unbiased Hank Aaron has already chimed in to help with Bonds' public lynching. Senator John McCain is grandstanding to pass legislation to protect America from the roid scare. No word from Jim Bunning, who still thinks he is playing professional baseball.

It seems that all that Bonds has to fear is the damage to his legacy. Baseball is probably not going to discipline him or Jason Giambi, who actually admitted to using steroids in the alleged grand jury testimony. And of course, the putative testimony was leaked because they didnít have enough to go after the players. As for me, the only thing I know for sure after reading the leaked testimony was that Bonds has a deep fondness for the word "Dude".

Anyway, before this generation of ballplayers is dismissed as a bunch of overpriced, steroid-inflated lollygaggers ("we walked ten miles uphill to the ballpark in my dayÖboth ways."), I started looking at the facts. And the facts are that the offensive surge started long before the steroid scare purportedly began. I showed yesterday, as well, that two rounds of expansion caused offenses to soar (in 1993 and '98).

Today, I'd like to look at the effect that new ballparks had. Now, this is just a quick method. I'm sure that a much more well-thought-out study could be made of the data. But I think even this quickie study is quite telling.

I took a look at the statistical impact that the new stadiums (since 1991) have had. I'd like to use the same stats as yesterday (home runs per plate appearance and slugging percentage). Here are the changes that were witnessed when the new stadiums cropped up.

First, these are the stadiums we will be examining:

Chicago White Sox1991Comiskey Park II
Baltimore Orioles1992Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Cleveland Indians1994Jacobs Field
Texas Rangers1994The Ballpark at Arlington
Colorado Rockies1995Coors Field
Atlanta Braves1997Turner Field
Detroit Tigers2000Comerica Park
Houston Astros2000Enron Field
San Francisco Giants2000PacBell Park
Seattle Mariners2000Safeco Field*
Milwaukee Brewers2001Miller Park
Pittsburgh Pirates2001PNC Park
Cincinnati Reds2003Great American Ball Park
Montreal Expos2003Stade Olympique/Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Philadelphia Phillies2004Citizen's Bank Park
San Diego Padres2004Petco Park

Note that the Expos played just 20 games in Hiram Bithorn, but I decided to include anyway. Also, the M's moved to Safeco in mid-1999. I went with the first full season there (2000) and compared it to the last full season in Kingdome (1998).

Now here are the averages for all of the stadiums:

TeamYrHR%% ChangeSLUG% Change
Chicago White Sox19912.19%24.53%.3912.93%
Baltimore Orioles19922.35%-13.43%.398-0.70%
Cleveland Indians19943.72%65.20%.48418.41%
Texas Rangers19942.74%-6.77%.4361.15%
Colorado Rockies19953.54%27.30%.4717.34%
Atlanta Braves19972.76%-11.98%.426-1.42%
Detroit Tigers20002.79%-19.74%.438-1.01%
Houston Astros20003.86%47.25%.47713.38%
San Francisco Giants20003.52%20.77%.4728.77%
Seattle Mariners20003.07%-16.92%.442-5.59%
Milwaukee Brewers20013.40%22.04%.4265.61%
Pittsburgh Pirates20012.67%1.27%.393-7.26%
Cincinnati Reds20032.93%8.46%.395-3.20%
Montreal Expos20032.35%-9.16%.401-4.07%
Philadelphia Phillies20043.33%27.05%.4435.58%
San Diego Padres20042.20%7.42%.4146.60%

There's a wide dispersal in these data, but on average home runs increased by over ten percent after a team switched stadiums. Keep in mind that this includes a decrease in the tenuous inclusion of the San Juan Expos and that the Rangers new stadium did not have nearly the offensive numbers it has now.

The discerning mind will point out that the stadium increase could be result of the overall increase from year to year. However, if we subtract out the increases seen in the league the year that each stadium opened, we still see a marked increase:

TeamYrHR% Change Above LgSLUG Change Above Lg
Chicago White Sox199117.00%1.06%
Baltimore Orioles1992-4.81%1.79%
Cleveland Indians199445.44%11.94%
Texas Rangers1994-26.53%-5.32%
Colorado Rockies199527.73%9.04%
Atlanta Braves1997-9.60%-1.94%
Detroit Tigers2000-21.08%-1.96%
Houston Astros200043.36%12.80%
San Francisco Giants200016.89%8.20%
Seattle Mariners2000-23.48%-8.34%
Milwaukee Brewers200122.02%7.08%
Pittsburgh Pirates20011.26%-5.80%
Cincinnati Reds20034.50%-4.95%
Montreal Expos2003-13.12%-5.82%
Philadelphia Phillies200422.36%4.19%
San Diego Padres20042.73%5.21%

So clearly the change in venue had some effect in the offensive numbers we've seen. I'll leave the study regarding steroids' effect to Jose Canseco.

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