Cardinals Minor League Park Factors

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Before Starlin Rodriguez suddenly posts an isolated slugging percentage of .200 for Springfield, we should probably remind ourselves about the run scoring environments for each of the leagues and ball parks in which the Cardinals' minor league affiliates reside.

Minor league games have begun, which means we're back to scanning DFRs to check on our favorite prospects. Before we get too excited though, we should familiarize ourselves with the scoring environments that each of the Cardinals' minor league affiliates play in and the effects of the stadiums they call home. Properly understanding the context in which these players exist will allow for better performance evaluation.

Matt Eddy from Baseball America explains why park factors are important to consider:

Depending on the park's features, a team may gain an advantage from righthanded power hitters taking aim at a short left-field porch, speedy outfielders covering a vast territory, or groundball pitchers paired with a slow playing surface limiting the number of hits.

There have been a glut of posts about minor league park factors lately. Here's one for the Twins. Here's one for the Mets. Red Sox. Angels. Hey, we should have our own! I thought it would be helpful to generate a reference for us to have throughout the season in case we forget whether or not a middle-infielder's power surge at double-A should get us all hot and bothered, even if we always have Daniel Descalso's 2009 season for that reminder.

If you're new to this whole prospect thing, by the way, you should really check out the prospect primer still available at our old site. It was written by azruavatar and makes for an informative crash course on prospect evaluation. Click that link and you'll notice that he already had some park factors listed on that page, but I thought this topic was worth revisiting since those factors were from Dan Szymborski back in 2007 and both MiLB.com and Baseball America have published articles on park factors this offseason, each with data sets extending back through 2010. Also, the Cardinals have two new minor league affiliations this season (Peoria Chiefs and State College Spikes), so we have two new stadiums to consider.

What follows are several tables for your reference throughout the season. I've pulled information available for free at four different websites. I've already mentioned Baseball America and MiLB.com but Statcorner and Minor League Central also offer some unique information. Impressed by a fast start or discouraged by a slow one? Hold that opinion and come here first to see if the context of that player's environment helps explain their success/failure.

Park & League Factors (Baseball America)

Setting

Park Factor

R/G

H/G

HR/G

Memphis Redbirds

.924

8.91

17.25

1.81

Pacific Coast League

N/A

10.69

19.44

1.94

Springfield Cardinals

1.019

10.09

18.14

2.35

Texas League

N/A

9.25

17.60

1.64

Palm Beach Cardinals

.932

7.50

16.04

0.82

Florida State League

N/A

8.58

17.03

1.13

Peoria Chiefs

.968

8.73

16.84

1.12

Midwest League

N/A

9.13

16.96

1.24



Interpreting this table is pretty easy. The runs, hits, and homeruns per game columns are pretty self-explanatory. The league rows show the average numbers league-wide, so compare that to the other rows which contain numbers specific to each of the Cards' minor league affiliates, and you can tell whether any given player's home park inflates or suppresses offensive production. Another way of doing this, of course, is to pay attention to the Park Factor column. A park factor of 1.00 would indicate an average run scoring environment, so Memphis' .924 park factor suggests that runs score at a rate that is eight percent less than league average.

Park Factors (MiLB.com)

Team

Level

Stadium

Runs

H

HR

Memphis Redbirds

AAA

AutoZone Park

.862

.911

.964

Springfield Cardinals

AA

Hammons Field

1.036

1.012

1.431

Palm Beach Cardinals

A+

Roger Dean Stadium

.866

.936

.747

Peoria Chiefs

A

O’Brien Field

.935

.979

.926


As stated before, both MiLB.com and Baseball America published articles about park factors this offseason. Though MiLB.com's article appeared slightly earlier in March, most sites seem to be referencing Baseball America when doing this type of post. It's unclear to me whether or not they used the same data set. I thought the above table was worth including because the influence that each park has specifically on runs, hits, and home runs is slightly clearer. Again, 1.00 is average. Anything above 1.00 enhances that particular stat while anything below suppresses it.


Statcorner's Split Park Factors (LHB/RHB)

Team

Level

Stadium

Runs

1B

2B/3B

HR

Memphis Redbirds

AAA

AutoZone Park

87/95

98/101

73/88

117/92

Springfield Cardinals

AA

Hammons Field

108/103

107/96

110/101

138/149

Palm Beach Cardinals

A+

Roger Dean Stadium

91/90

99/97

99/90

59/73

Peoria Chiefs

A

TBD

97/94

102/104

92/95

84/97

State College Spikes

A-

Medlar Field

103/103

101/103

104/98

109/74


Interpreting the tables above and below is very similar to the first two even though the numbers look a little different. Instead of 1.00, league average is scaled to 100, but the same idea remains. Anything over 100 is above league average while anything under 100 is below league average.

I really like the park factors available at Statcorner because they account for batter handedness. The first number in each column represents left-handed hitters while the second number represents right-handed hitters. This table (as well as the one above it) should help explain why batsmen enjoy making the jump from Palm beach to Springfield. Another quirk worth mentioning is that State College apparently allows left-handed hitters to hit home runs at a rate that is nine percent above league average while right handed hitters clear the fence twenty-six percent below league average.

Rookie League Park Factors (Minor League Central)

Team

Level

Runs

Hits

2B

HR

Johnson City Cardinals

R

111

109

108

107

GCL Cardinals

R

117

103

115

191

DSL Cardinals

R

102

99

94

79


You might have noticed that the Cardinal's rookie league affiliates have been missing from this conversation. Thankfully, there's Minor League Central, though it's unclear how much weight these factors should be given considering they are conspicuously absent from the other websites. Being that rookie level teams only play half a season of games per year, and this data from Minor League Central is from the 2012 season only, I'd recommend taking it with a grain of salt. I mean, just look at that HR column for the GCL Cardinals. That seems unsustainable even for the wildest of ball parks.

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