Comerica is not doubles friendly

by billfer on October 27, 2009 · 37 comments

in 2009 Season,Statistics

Why is it that people keep insisting that Comerica Park is a great park for doubles? Is it the large centerfield? The huge-mongous gaps between the outfielders? I just don’t know but it just ain’t true but now even the general manager is saying it.

John Lowe wrote about the Tigers lack of doubles as an indictment of the offense. I can’t really argue that point as the Tigers ranked 30th in MLB with only 245 doubles. That isn’t good at all.

What I will take issue with is that the number was remarkable because of their home ballpark. Lowe cites the fact that it was strange that the Tigers had more doubles on the road than at home. He quotes Dave Dombrowski on the subject as well:

“When you talk about the Tigers and our ability not to score runs and not hit the way we should, it’s the lack of doubles,” Dombrowski said. “We have a ballpark that is conducive to a doubles-hitting club. It has tremendous gaps.”

But here’s the rub, Comerica Park is a bad park for doubles.

doubles by year

The table shows the number of doubles hit by the Tigers and their opponents each year at Comerica Park, and on the road (don’t forget back in 2009 the Tigers had one extra road game). For each of the last 5 years – and I didn’t go back further because I think the point has been made – more doubles are hit other places than at Comerica.

The ratio, more commonly referred to as a park factor, routinely puts Comerica Park in the bottom third in the majors in terms of doubles. A value of 1 would be neutral, values greater than 1 mean the park would be favorable and values less than one mean it is unfavorable. Over the last 5 years it’s been about 6% harder to hit a double at Comerica park than at a typical stadium. So can we finally put to rest the notion that it is a good doubles ballpark?

For more on Comerica’s outfield and other park factor goodness, you may want to check out these posts from the archives:

 
 

{ 37 comments }

Jeff Molby October 27, 2009 at 8:44 am

Interesting. I never would have guessed. Do triples play into the equation? Maybe it doesn’t look like a doubles park because an inordinate number of them turn into triples?

tc chris October 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

I echo the above comment – for context, how many triples do they have, home and away?

rings October 27, 2009 at 9:42 am

I would guess that one factor in the ratio is that outfielders tend to play a little deeper at the Copa and run down or cutoff balls that would become doubles at other parks.

Nick October 27, 2009 at 9:46 am

It is possible that a park would favor doubles hitters even though it doesn’t actually increase the number of doubles. The suggestions above are both examples of this. I don’t really think this is what Dombrowski meant though.

billfer October 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Excellent point. Nice to have you back BTW.

Chris October 27, 2009 at 10:51 am

I’m not sure if I’d few this as a valid stat… For instance, I would assume that a team plays better on the road than at home… so I would expect to see other teams hitting more doubles away from CoPo vs. at, therefore putting them into the ratio skews it.

What I’d like to see is a ratio of double vs. other hits (singles, triples, HR) in Comerica vs. other parks. I think this would give you a truer view of how good of a doubles park CoPo is or isn;t/

Mike Rogers October 27, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Teams play better at home, not on the road. Why would a team play better after having to travel to a different time zone, staying in a place that isn’t their home and being away from their families?

billfer October 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm

It is a valid stat and a common way to calculate park factors. Keep in mind that these are the doubles hit in Tigers home games versus road games – by both teams. So there is always a home team and a road team in each game. There are mathematical questions about dividing the two numbers – especially at the extremes – but it doesn’t change the fact that for 5 years running Comerica hasn’t been a good doubles park.

Coleman October 27, 2009 at 11:52 am

Comerica: the Singles-Friendly Park….at least there is some marketing potential there…

jcm October 27, 2009 at 11:54 am

In his career year , Granderson batted 7 3bs at home , 15 on the road.
This year he batted far better on the road than at Copa.

Matt October 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I think to really get at Dombrowski’s comment, you’d have to look at the Tigers’ stats alone, in order to see how many doubles they hit home and away and compare to their opponents. Part of why Comerica seems to not be double friendly is because the Tigers just aren’t hitting that many doubles (they were last in the league in doubles)

billfer October 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm

But this is a 5 year trend. The Tigers hit 5 more doubles on the road last year and I didn’t retain the numbers for each year, but that was generally the case in each of the years in the sample (there may have been a year when it wasn’t like that, I just don’t recall).

Coleman October 27, 2009 at 5:21 pm

The Tigers hit more doubles on the road than at home. They won more games at home than on the road.

Clearly, as opposed to DD’s comment, doubles are detrimental. Hopefully in 2010 they find a way to cut down on the road doubles.

Coach Jim October 27, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Rings had the right idea. Because of the large outfield, the fielders play deeper. This might increase singles slightly, but does cut down on doubles of a specific kind. It doesn’t affect the long belts to the fence, but consider the line-drive hits that have the punch of singles, that happen to be directly between outfielders. Some will be cut off, some will get by and go to the fence. When the outfielders are deeper, the “singles” that would normally get by outfielders for doubles, don’t.

Frank October 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm

From the eyeball test affected by the ‘numbers’/'charts’/'views’ presented in various forums, I’d say Comerica Park’s left field is home run friendly; center field is singles, doubles, and triples friendly; and right field plays relatively normal when compared to other parks. Curtis has said something to the effect that Comerica Park is the hardest for him to play (center field) of all the AL parks. I believe him.

Other thoughts about ‘normal’ extra base hits at Comerica Park:
-Doubles happen down the lines if the fielders are not playing them and over the center fielder’s head at the fence. Over any fielder’s head anywhere at the fence if the runner has speed.

-Doubles or triples happen to the right center field gap, maximized at the point where it goes past the particular center and right fielders (affected by their starting position and read on the ball) and it takes the longest for both of them to get to (at the same time).

Kevin leaving the Mavs game October 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I’m still hurting. Go Phillies.

TSE October 28, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Well it doesn’t help that we have players like Everett and Laird, which are two of the guys that have diminished our team’s overall power hits this year. (different players were the problem in the previous 5 years)

See, a portion of doubles comes from long shots that don’t make it quite out, I call these failed home runs to some extent. They just didn’t have enough juice. Look at a true solid hitter like Cabrera for example, or even Inge for when he does make contact. They have a decent sum of doubles AND HRs on the year. Well that’s because they are frequently blasting the ball into the potential of “HRs or doubles”, whereas Laird and Everett don’t. So by looking at the tally of HRs for Inge and Cabrera, you can see that they frequently put themselves in position to “fall short” and wind up with a double. Guys like Everett and Laird don’t have many HRs, thus the spillover from failed HRs doesn’t boost their double totals.

In other words, guys like Everett and Laird, while they weren’t completely empty on doubles if you just look at doubles isolated by themselves against other players, they in effect are not hitting their fair share. Since they don’t have balls that are “not failing” and turning into HRs, you would expect, well rather hope that those balls become doubles. But they don’t have nearly enough hits that can promote into HRs, thus they don’t have the proper amount of doubles that they should have if they were good hitters.

Let’s upgrade to Tejada at SS next year and Victor Ramirez at C, and then let’s see the next few years what the numbers looks like. Maybe Comerica Park is or isn’t a doubles park, but if you had a pair of reject hitters removed from the equation, you might come to a different conclusion when you look at a future table.

Other than that, I think this is a very interesting topic, and I would like to see a lot more tables of data similar to what the other posters have been requesting for a more systematic dissection of the issue.

Andre in Chi October 28, 2009 at 2:44 pm

“Let’s upgrade to Tejada at SS next year and Victor Ramirez at C”

I agree, but maybe you should donate the extra $17m that it would cost in salary alone to get those two. I hear you have some successful businesses and have more money than you know what to do with.

TSE October 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Well I don’t own the Tigers so it’s not my responsibility to pay the appropriate fees to fix them. If I woke up tomorrow with ownership of the Tigers, then I would no longer have more money than I know what to do with. I can’t afford those contracts! I have enough money to support myself, but not Tejada and Ramirez.

If you read my argument that I would pitch to Mr. Illitch, well I don’t look at the Tiger’s total payroll as being the relevant figure to work from. A HUGE amount of that money is a SUNK cost, and is a dispute that Illitch needs to take up with DD and should not hamper the Tigers. That’s money that Illitch blew on the side that does not relate to logical baseball in any way, so it shouldn’t come out of the team’s budget. That’s like saying the Tigers should cut their payroll down because Illitch chose to spend $50M on a new sculpture for his backyard. The sculpture is a personal investment that Illitch chose to spend his money on for something personal that doesn’t relate to baseball, so the proper thing to do in the interest of the Tigers, is to not limit the team’s budget on players just because he wrote a check for some unrelated reason.

It’s just like if you needed to go to the doctor for an important surgery and some guy knocked on your door and he says, I can sell you some of my surgery services for half price. You give him the money and he splits town. Well that shouldn’t be the REAL doctor’s problem, or the hospital’s fault, you chose to let somebody take advantage of you without qualifying his intentions properly and securing that you were going to get a service in return. That con job has nothing remotely to do with the concept of investing money into “medical treatment”. So in the interests of your body that needs the surgery, you should do right by it and spend money on IT, regardless of the fact that you let somebody rob you at a previous time.

Andre in Chi October 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I’m confused now, is it my responsibility to pay the $17m, or the con-doctor’s?

TSE October 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Mr. Ilitch should pay the money.

It’s not the Tiger’s fault that he got ripped off on a bum deal. If I was to look at the Tiger’s budget for 2010, I would remove all of the dollars that were spent illogically. That doesn’t mean I’m going to remove every cent of every move that looks bad in hindsight, cause some of the bad money we have was a logical gamble/investment at the time. You can’t blame somebody in hindsight for seemingly good moves at the time. So I would FAIRLY evaluate those deals that didn’t make sense, and factor ALL of that money out of the budget to represent what I would consider an accurate portrayal of how much money he is investing into his baseball team. The DEAD money of where he was taken for a ride doesn’t count, and is something he has to come to grips with as his fault for authorizing those expenditures.

Now that doesn’t mean that ALL of Dontrelle’s $12MM gets factored out. Because AT the time, there was more than a 0% chance that he could have panned out. If it was absolute zero, then $12MM would have to be factored out. So there would have to be a subjectively fair process of estimating a prorated portion based upon a realistic probability of success, which would require the analysis to be done without the aid of knowledge we gained AFTER that moment in time. So of course, any person could come up with a different amount based upon their interpretations of the subjective probability estimations, but it is a starting point for helping to compare the Tiger’s EFFECTIVE budget of what it SHOULD be against the actual current expected payouts.

And you could come up with a general range of what this amount would be, and ultimately it would be up to Mr. Ilitch to decide what portion of this presented EFFECTIVE budget that he can accept or buy into, and that’s the starting point for being able to close him on where we should be at and how much more we should be allowed to spend.

All in all, we’re going to find out that we aren’t constrained from spending money if Mr. Ilitch is willing to buy into this assessment, which I believe he will to some extent once this preliminary legwork has been accomplished and presented to him. Or maybe after it is filibustered to him. Either way, as the new GM, I have a lot of work to do and some 100-hour weeks ahead of me, but rest assured Detroit, we are going to get this thing done, and done the RIGHT way.

billfer October 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm

What does this have to do with doubles and Comerica Park?

And Laird and Everett were 2 players who played one year in Detroit. I presented 5 years of data that includes home and away players. Your argument isn’t germane.

TSE October 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

It has to do with doubles because those players are not contributing their fair share by not being good hitters. My point is that they don’t have the home run type of power that guys like Cabrera and Inge (as examples) do, to the point that those shots that don’t make it out can land in gaps for doubles. Laird and Everett don’t get the benefit of failed HRs in other words, and that skews our total down some. So it does not help promote high double counts at Comerica park when a portion of players aren’t hitting enough doubles that they could be hitting if they weren’t substandard players.

And I said in my post specifically that Laird and Everett applied ONLY to this year, with a different set of players contributing poorly in the previous years that are along the same lines of substandard doubles-capable hitters.

billfer October 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

But they haven’t always had bad doubles teams over those 5 years. And even then, what does that have to do with hitting more doubles on the road than at home? Wouldn’t those same principles apply?

TSE October 28, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Well those are questions that would require an exploration of the data of the different players we had in those years, as well as some of the other detailed items of data relating to the other parks.

This one chart here isn’t enough to adequately explore the topic of whether Comerica park is doubles friendly or not, and form a conclusive opinion in that regard.

The data sure supports the case that it is NOT doubles friendly, but it isn’t thoroughly convincing without other data and other angles explored and delved into. If I had to guess, I would guess Comerica park IS NOT friendly for doubles, but I can’t be sure based upon this chart alone, which ultimately means that DD may or may not be right when he makes that claim.

George Houchens October 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Back when Comerica was first opened, wasn’t there some hullabaloo about the depth of the outfield fences? I recall the free agent (Juan Gonzalez?) the Tigers bought for big bucks back then was not happy about the difficulty of hitting home runs in Comerica. So weren’t the fences brought in about 20 feet or so to appease this guy and other big hitters? Is this part of the reason why doubles are less frequent?

Kathy October 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

Yes, I believe they moved the bullpen out there and built more seats because it just wasn’t homerun friendly enough.

Coleman October 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Yep, that was the classic “Juan Gone” who wanted the fences moved in. It didn’t help that much (him, I mean; opposing players seemed to take advantage of it), then he ran off to Cleveland.

Imagine where the fence would be if they had moved it in for Brad Ausmus instead. Although fans supposedly love lots of home runs, and there would be plenty of room for lots of extra seats for all those extra fans once they moved the fence…

Joey in Portland OR October 29, 2009 at 1:18 am

Off topic but who is everyone rooting for? Phils, Yanks or Don’t give a rip?

I”m pulling for the Phillies.
Great game by Lee tonight too bad we didn’t get him instead of Washburn!

TSE October 29, 2009 at 2:40 am

I’m rooting for the Yankees.

My reasoning is because I want the Yankees to really stick it to the Tigers and further solidify themselves as an icon that symbolizes the best team in baseball history. I think they deserve it, because they do things the right way. They spend money to gain an advantage, and they don’t squander their resources, and that has helped them over time to grow revenues to help cover their aggressive spending.

I hope that the Yankees success serves as a catalyst to provoke change in Detroit. There would be less of an impact if the Phillies won, because they are in the Nat’l League and it would validate an excuse to spend money which we need more encouragement to spend money rather than to chicken out. If you want to seriously compete in baseball by spending less money, you better bring it with your GMs and your coaches and managers, or you have no shot, and we aren’t set up well in that area.

I’m only 30 years old, so I’ve spent my entire lifetime watching lousy Tiger’s baseball, absolutely pathetic fundamentals of baseball in every aspect of the game. We have ALWAYS had bad coaching, and bad GMs, and bad managers. We can’t run the basepaths correctly, we can’t decide when to PH correctly, or PS, or fielding shifts, or when to bunt or not to bunt, or when to steal. We don’t know how to shop for FAs and evaluate the best bargains, and we don’t know how to strategically trade players when their perceived stock is higher than their present/future value to our team. And frankly, I’m sick of it, and I’m not happy about it. Although I will still watch every single game next year, as I won’t quit on my hope that we can defy the statistical odds against us, and I’m addicted to baseball like a drug. ;)

I hope that the Yankees winning gives SOME small bit of extra motivation to encourage Mr. Ilitch to aspire to one day be the best example of a baseball team and to start taking away from the Yankee’s status. Let’s hope the Yankees win to give us a loftier target to shoot for, and hope Mr. Ilitch will subsequently determine that we need to audit our philosophies as a team, and improve ALL areas of the game, from the management of the roster all the way down to every facet and element of the gameday tactical decisions, which we currently underachieve at in ALL AREAS with very disappointing deficiencies.

Kathy October 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

Well, here’s where we disagree a bit. I want the Phillies to win, precisely because it will detract from the thinking that if you spend the most, the best team will win. Like I said before, more money makes it easier, but you can still get excellent results with less. And you have NO art on your walls? Hey, if you don’t want them, send them to me. I love art. As I sit here at my computer I have 2 pictures in front of me: #30 at homeplate just as he hit the walkoff homer to send us to the world series and a nice autogrpahed photo of Grandy which he sent me for donating to his foundation. I look at them every day.

Kathy October 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

Sorry to go off-topic

TSE October 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Well the Yankees are an exception in how much they spend, we wouldn’t be likely to spend within their range. And our team doesn’t manage money well or gameday tactics. In order to win at baseball with spending a lot less money, you need to be really smart about it. Bottom line though, whether we spend more money or less money, we need to be SMARTER. That isn’t going to change no matter how much we spend. I just prefer encouragement to spend more, so that when we do get around to being smarter, we have more overall resources to magnify our potential.

And sorry don’t have any art currently, it’s pretty rare that people buy that kind of stuff for me anymore. I’m not the kind of gift recipient that pretends every gift is good, so in the past if somebody bought me a picture frame or not and asked me if I liked it, I would typically say yeah it’s nice but I don’t hang stuff up so I probably won’t use it. I’m very blunt and honest. ;)

I actually do have one piece I forgot about in my garage. It’s a huge picture with a waterfall background that is electronic where there is a light roller that makes the water look like it’s moving. You can have that if you want. :)

Kathy October 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Thanks, but no thanks, for the waterfall “art”. However, my son would probably love it!

Referring back to the shrewd shopper conversation, I ‘m a person with champagne taste, but a beer budget. That’s the mindset I’m coming from. Since billfer doesn’t like analogies, I won’t talk about that here. Your use of the word “SMARTER” is the operative word here and that’s what the Tiger’s organization needs more of. The Yankees have a 24k gold lineup. Who wouldn’t want that? I love Cadillacs and Bentley’s, but drive a 19 year old Toyota. It’s worth it’s weight in gold. I’d trust it to take me anywhere.

It doesn’t have to cost you $200 million dollars to get you where you want to go.

Lee Panas October 29, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Billfer’s methodology is valid. Comerica has not been a good doubles park the last five years. I’d like to see the Comerica Park factor for doubles and triples combined though. As one other person pointed out, the large number of triples in Comerica is likely reducing their doubles total.

Kathy October 29, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Interesting:

http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2009/07/26/sports/srv0000005942702.txt

Not sure if this will end up being a link, but the article makes it very clear that after the alterations were done to the outfield, the park is no longer considered a pitcher’s park. Also, there were alot more doubles and triples hit in the first 3 years of the CoPa’s existence, before they messed around with the outfield.

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