Outfield flies, Safeco Field, Jarrod Washburn

Dave · December 19, 2005 at 5:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

We’ve discussed the Washburn deal to death in the past few days, so, if you’re checking the blog for our thoughts on the signing, those threads are a good place to start.

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.


110 Responses to “Outfield flies, Safeco Field, Jarrod Washburn”

  1. Melvin Bob on December 20th, 2005 8:00 am

    101 We’re being mocked by Dayn Perry though. Being ridiculed by him is like slipping on ice and being laughed at by the fat kid who lives in a trailer park. Since replying with a witty and hurtful remark in this situation is just too damn easy, all you do is pull yourself up, wipe the snow of your pants, and keep on walking.

  2. Goose on December 20th, 2005 8:07 am


    Please don’t tell me you actually believe that.

    Wow, I’ve seen comments and attitudes like that pop up around here over the past few weeks…the comments are really going downhill here and quick.

    Oh well at least the articles are still top notch.

  3. Tom on December 20th, 2005 8:51 am

    While I prefer Millwood, I don’t see how Washburn’s deal is that overvalued. Loaiza sighed for $7m a year, if you think Washburn is better, than $9m is about right. Is he $2m a year better? Someone can probably tell me.

  4. Grizz on December 20th, 2005 9:10 am

    The problem is that Loaiza is a better pitcher than Washburn. Look at their 2005 numbers.

    Loaiza: 1.23 G/F, 2.98 K/BB, 2.28 BB/9, 7.18 K/9, 3.32 FIP, 3.86 xFIP

    Washburn: 1.05 G/F, 1.84 K/BB, 2.59 BB/9, 4.77 K/9, 4.39 FIP, 5.01 xFIP

    Loaiza induces more groundballs, strikes out more per walk, walks less batters, strikes out more batters, and relies significantly less on his fielders to make outs for him. And unlike Washburn, Loaiza also has not missed any significant time to injuries the last couple of years.

    The Washburn signing is terrible no matter how you look at it.

  5. Southpaw on December 20th, 2005 9:18 am

    Though Esteban is two years older when his contract runs out.

    103, you don’t believe it? That’s at least a high percentage of why he has the job he has. That’s baseball. Why do you think crappy managers (see Little, Grady) keep getting rehired after botching one team after another? Because for whatever reason, baseball loves baseball people. And that certainly extends to progeny.

  6. Southpaw on December 20th, 2005 9:19 am

    Sorry, that was in reponse to Goose, not Tom.

  7. Paul on December 20th, 2005 10:18 am

    Ultimately, I’d prefer to defer to those with more experience, but it seems to me that some portion of Safeco’s extreme flyball tendency would be explained by the foul ball tendencies of the park. Safeco has spacious foul territory turning a large amount of foul pops into outs. Of course, foul grounders have no impact (and go entirely unaccounted for). If foul outs are included in the overall total of flyballs, this should have a significant impact on the Safeco’s tendency to apparently induce more flyballs. In other words, if Safeco induces an average amount of gbs and fbs, but more of the fbs are turned into foul ball fly outs, then the park will appear to induce flyballs, when what it actually does is create more foul ball outs.

  8. LB on December 20th, 2005 10:35 am

    #105: Amen. Baseball men have long hired their drinking buddies, ever since Abner Doubleday invented this great game. (sic)

  9. Evan on December 20th, 2005 11:32 am

    Foul outs are included in the numbers Dave posted. Safeco inflates foul outs as a percentage of outfield flies by 13.8%. Edison suppresses foul outs as a percentage of outfield flies by 25%.

  10. PaulMarrottWeaver on December 20th, 2005 1:46 pm

    Does the fact that the Mariners suck affect the park statistics?