How The “Playing Field” Can Affect Your Fantasy Team In 2010.

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Most fantasy owners—I being one of them—spend an inordinate amount of time sifting through the various world of fantasy information, as well as trudging through the murky mire of stats.

Stats are an interesting beast in the respect that they do not always tell the whole story, but they do tell little tales that, in oft times go undervalued.

Submitted for your approval—or at least the next 5 minutes or so—the crazy notice to the effect of baseball parks on your fantasy team.

Pretty fields, well tailored baselines, enough beer and food to create and destroy the greatest of drunken stupors, all of these things have NOTING to do with your fantasy team unless you are one of those guys who goes to an actual game, throws back a couple of cool Coors 16 ouncers, and does nothing more than spend his time on his Blackberry checking out his roster every inning—here’s to you cell phone guy!

But what can have an effect on your team, is what goes on inside those parks each and every week.

How the field is constructed, winds, depth, overall comparison to HR/FB ratios, these are the things that a lot of people tend NOT to take into consideration when setting their roster each week; and the effects are felt in every format…no league is safe!

But in the 2010 Fantasy Baseball season, there are a lot of players with new homes; homes that could either impact your team in a nice sexy way, or in a bad dream “ Why do I do this every year?” kind of  way.

Hitter Friendly Parks.

Yankee Stadium: 237 homeruns in its inaugural year is a wonderful thing, especially for your power hitters. But another great secret about Yankee stadium is it greatly favors left handed hitters.

Curtis Granderson anyone?

Last year he hit .183 against lefties as a lefty, and with his new digs—and apparently some super-fab glasses that should improve his 20/30 vision—Granderson, could provide fantasy owners a better bat in 2010; something that has a lot to do with Yankee stadium’s left handed batter friendly design.

Fenway Park: One of the best places for both left handed batters, and right handed ones is Fenway Park. Fenway’s PF ranks up there with some of the more elite parks that is very giving in regard to reliable homerun feeds, but what also helps Fenway’s cause is the vast improvement hitters seem to enjoy in BA.

Why is this important? Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre, that’s why.

Marco Scutaro, and his fellow companions in Toronto, enjoyed much success, hitting for power in a field that favored right handed batters, and while Scutaro will probably drop off a bit in that category, you can widely expect him to make it up in BA and overall OPS. Adrian Beltre should benefit the most coming over from the cavernous pit of Safeco Field; one of the toughest—if not the toughest—places to crack a homerun.

Coors Field: Colorado was once one of the best places for homeruns, but in recent times, the installation of a humidor will undoubtedly shrink some of those numbers. But it is still one of the best fields in MLB for extra base hits, particularly triples, over a three year basis.

There are two interesting players for the Rockies that could stand to benefit from Coors Field: Miguel Olivo, and Eric Young Jr.

Olivo was brought in to “push” Chris Iannetta who has been just below average in the last two years, and considering Olivo is the better power hitter, you can expect to see him taking full advantage of Coors field as well as time at the plate—no matter what Iannetta says.

Eric Young Jr. is an interesting case to keep an eye on; especially you folks in deeper leagues. It is projected that Young Jr. will NOT be on the opening day roster, but it will be hard to ignore a guy who has a penchant for extra base hits and blazing speed.

Camden Yards: The Orioles stomping grounds has always been a great place for slugging percentage and homeruns, whether you play for them or if you’re just visiting. In fact, Camden Yards has a better homerun factor and AVG factor than most people think.

So with that said, for those of you who got stuck with—or actually drafted—Miguel Tejada, you might want to consider hanging onto him for a bit.

Tejada is pretty much looked at as being washed up due to age, injury and declining play. Now, while Tejada comes from Houston (another very hitter friendly park) Camden Yards is even better for him in AVG (.5 percent better than Houston) and homeruns (16 percent better than Houston).

Wrigley Field: The state of the place is in shambles, the seats are rickety and crappy, there’s a strange funk that even editor/writer Tab Bamford can’t always stomach ( and he can stomach quite a bit folks ) but Wrigley is actually a very hitter friendly park.

The misconception is that the swirling winds high above Wrigley state otherwise, especially when dealing with homeruns, but so does cold weather anywhere in the USA, so it’s sort of a moot point.

What Wrigley is good for is batters who know how to play good small ball, small ball produces runs and RBI, and power hitters can manipulate the field accordingly…Xavier Nady anyone? And let’s not forget all that wonderful Ivy that balls always tend to get lost in; something that is a gold mine for doubles and triples in the summer time.

Pitcher Friendly Parks:

Target Field: Say goodbye to the Metrodome and hello to its near twin brother Target Field. While the two parks are near identical in dimensions, the park is very smitten to the kids on the mound, and a lot of that has to do with its cold temperatures; something that keeps the ball down and aides in quelling homeruns production.

Carl Pavano is a good mention here since he did see an increase in performance last year (7 homeruns allowed over 12 games started). You should expect more of the same in 2010.

Safeco Field: Safeco is literally one of the easiest places on earth to pitch in largely in part to its design which puts a strangle hold on average and homeruns, unless you're Ichiro of course cause that guy could hit a ball in a 50 MPH windstorm blindfolded.

The obvious mention here is Cliff Lee since Safeco will be even more favorable to him than Philly, and more forgiving to a left-handed pitcher than Philly. But let’s not forget about David Aardsma, who is a guy that most feel—for some dumb reason—that he will not be as good as last year.

Let’s see, bring in a quality lights out ace, upgrade your team offensively, and play in a field that is completely pitcher friendly…..yeah sure, Aardsma won’t be as good as he was in 2009, ok.

Tropicana Field: Tropicana is a lot like Safeco in the sense that it is a cozy, comfy place for pitchers to pitch in, since it isn’t all that easy for visiting teams to produce much. In addition to the field being a difficult place to hit in, the Tampa defense should be vastly improved from a year ago.

The Rays used their last few pennies to gobble up Rafael Soriano who boast a career 9.9 K/9 rate, 2.2 BB/9 rate, and an even better career ground ball rate of 30.8%.

This is something that will surely benefit owners of Soriano, but it will also have a domino effect on the younger pitchers of Tampa in David Price, and Wade Davis; two guys who will be great sleepers and low cost/ high reward pitchers.

Busch Stadium: Ok, just for the record, I am not doing a promo for cheap American beer in this piece.

Busch stadium is a great place for mound warriors who are bread to be ground ball pitchers. But what is intriguing about the place is its low homerun rate allowed: 20 percent BELOW the league average. In addition to that, the Cardinals have an excellent defense to boot.

The Cardinals curiously went out and signed Brad Penny, who was largely expected to do good things in Boston, which he did not. Now in Busch stadium, Penny has a lot of opportunity to take advantage of a place that is designed with groundball pitchers in mind: precisely what Penny is. Penny will be passed on by just about everyone, but he could wind up being a high risk/ high reward type of player.

PETCO Park: If baseball allowed player to have a “calling out sick day” it would happen every time a team visits San Diego’s black void, PETCO Park. Hitters hate PETCO, pitchers love it. This place is so darn hard to hit in, you could be a one eyed drunken pitcher who never played a MLB game in his life and STILL walk away with a 3.50 ERA.

Enter in Jon Garland.

No, I am not inferring that Mr. Garland is a drunk, but I am talking about a guy who probably won’t get a fair shake in the 2010 Fantasy Baseball draft. Last year with both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, Garland posted an 11-13 record with a 4.01 ERA and inflated 1.40 WHIP.

But what is an interesting mixture is this: Garland usually doesn’t smoke you with heat, as he has a career SO/9 rate of only 4.8, but while playing for the Dodgers that rate spiked heavily to 6.5, and Dodger Stadium is pitcher friendly as well. Some of that spiking was probably a bit due to having such a solid pen, but that pen did breakdown after a while.

His situation in PETCO could make the one-time All-Star a great low end value pick up.

There is a quick glance at some of the best parks for pitchers and hitters. Got a park in mind you would like to know about, enter you question below.

For additional Fantasy Advice and insight check out our NFL, NHL, and NBA sections and good luck this year everyone!

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