Outfield flies, Safeco Field, Jarrod Washburn
However, since the deal is now official, I want to expound on a point that is basically the major sticking point between those who like the signing and those who don’t. Jarrod Washburn has some really severe home/road splits in two of the past three seasons. Supporters of the Washburn signing repeatedly point to his road ERA as a sign of his true talent level, and the argument goes that taking him away from Edison Field will significantly help his performance.
However, as Jeff Sullivan demonstrated over at Lookout Landing, the entirity of the difference between Washburn’s home/road performances has been in the ratio of home runs per fly ball that he’s allowed. At Edison Field, 11.3 percent of his flyballs have left the yard. On the road, just 8.9 percent of his flyballs have gone for home runs. The league average is 11 percent, so it would appear that the abberation here is the road HR/FB ratio. However, his home HR/FB ratio is actually a little higher than we’d expect as well, because as we’ll see in a second, Edison Field significantly neutralizes home runs.
Thanks to the great batted ball information the guys at the Hardball Times have, we can break down the differences between Safeco and Edison on a per-outfield-fly basis.
Per OF Fly Safeco Edison Difference Fair Outs 3.30% 1.30% 2.00% Foul Outs 13.80% -25.00% 38.80% Singles -21.00% 20.00% -41.00% Doubles -11.00% 1.70% -12.70% Triple -30.00% -17.00% -13.00% Home Run -11.00% -10.00% -1.00%
Here’s what the table says, essentially. A flyball is 3.3 percent more likely to be caught in fair territory than in an average ballpark. It is 1.3 percent more likely to be caught in Edison Field than average. So, Washburn was clearly not pitching in a park that was detrimental to flyball pitchers.
Below that, we have the break down for each hit type per flyball. You’ll see the huge positive number for singles and the large negative number for triples and home runs. Essentially, what this tells us is that flyballs in Anaheim are far more likely to end up as a single than in most parks, but far less likely to end up as a triple or home run. Essentially, Edison converts homers and triples into singles and outs. Which is why, as a whole, it’s pitcher friendly.
Safeco has a very similar home run to fly ball factor, but it destroys all other types of hits in a way that Edison can’t match. Essentially, the real effect of Safeco on run scoring isn’t as much in its home run prevention, where its above average but not earth shatteringly so, but in singles/doubles/triples prevention, where its a monster. Safeco also has the added bonus of generating flyballs (5.6 percent more than an average park), so not only does it turn flyballs into outs, but by creating more flyballs than normal, its compoundings its advantage.
Safeco is a great park for flyball pitchers. But Edison Field is a pretty good one for pitchers, too. And, when looking at the real reason Washburn struggled at home versus his road performance-HR to FB ratio-Safeco offers a minimal improvement.
Safeco should help Jarrod Washburn. But Edison should have helped Jarrod Washburn too.