Philadelphia Phillies and Citizen’s Bank Park: Perfect For Fantasy?

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Earlier this week I took a look at the Philadelphia Phillies’ upcoming 2011 fantasy baseball season (which you can read here), and the possibility of what fantasy baseball owners could garner from the Philadelphia Phillies. What I didn’t elude to was the “Park Factor” and how that could change the fantasy baseball output of any Philadelphia Phillies player you may draft.

Fantasy Baseball has come a long way since the seventies. Long gone are the days where we would simply judge a yearly projection based on a single stat line found in a periodical, or on the back of a bubble gum card.

It’s a joke guys; admittedly a bad one.

Today we have all sorts of previews, projections, metrics, and more numbers and acronyms that even a can of Alphabets soup couldn’t compete with.

One of those tricky areas is the elusive Park Factor.

To make this quick and not digress too much, it’s very simple: Parks are either considered hitter friendly (above 100) or pitcher friendly (below 100). Now, there used to be a time where the trend remained solid; constant and never changing.

But not anymore which is where Citizen’s Bank Park sort of rests.

Citizens’ Bank Park has always been highly regarded as a “hitter friendly” park, but through the past couple of years, the park has swayed to a more neutral park thanks to a drop in right handed batter production over the past three or so years.

But how hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park will be THIS year is left to be seen.

Sure, players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are sure to provide the consistent fantasy baseball output owners have come to enjoy (no doubt about it) and to be honest, the majority of that roster should be well worth fantasy baseball draft considerations but what about the other batters that visit Philadelphia and that powerful four headed pitching monster they got?

That’s the real trick and the moral of the story.

I’ve seen a lot of owners start specific players simply because the park they are hitting in favors their apparent skill set. But you must always remember to factor in just who is on the mound, and how many days that particular hitter will be affected.

Think of it this way: If right pulling, power slugger Adam Dunn comes to town you might want to consider starting someone else if you know he will face the top of the Phillies order, despite being in a hitter friendly park. Why?

Dunn strikes out at an alarming rate, while the Phillies pitchers have a knack for throwing strikes pointing to a three day set that probably won't offer fantasy owners of Adam Dunn anything other than a headache.

The risk factor is just too high and favors the pitching even though the hitter is in a hitter friendly environment.

Seems like no-brainer information, but there are plenty of newbies in fantasy baseball each and every year so this information is most valuable to them.

In the end, don’t just look at the current Park Factor rating found on the web, that will only tell you part of the story. Look at the park trend over the past two or three years, and how that could affect who you want on your team this year.

Then pay strict attention to who will be pitching in the early goings, and viola! You’ll have a very slight edge over your competition that otherwise seems not worth mentioning.

Let’s take a player by player look (the primaries) at who is favored at home and who’s not. Any player listed as 'even' simply means the stats are so close it’s like splitting hairs, but there is no player devalue to worry about.

1B Ryan Howard – EVEN: Really splitting hairs here, although he has stolen more bases at home than on the road.
2B Chase Utley – HOME: Not even close, Utley basically flirts with a 3-1 ratio in nearly all stats when in his own backyard.
3B Placido Polanco – EVEN: For the majority of 2010 Polanco was just as good on the road as he was at home. Kinda unfair to judge however after only one year, and some bouts with injury.
SS Jimmy Rollins – HOME: J-Roll is a home-body for sure, but keep in mind that he is declining in his play, and does not warrant the high draft pick he once did. He is still a threat on the bases and as a hitter, just not as much as in his prime.
OF Raul Ibanez – EVEN: Ibanez was a road monster in 2009, but he was far better at home in 2010. He could be due to a much better season this year, comparatively to 2010, since he is in his contract year.
OF Shane Victorino – HOME: No question about it, Victorino plays far better at home than when he’s traveling around.
C Carlos Ruiz – HOME: Again, far better at home than on the road.
SS Wilson Valdez – EVEN: Not quite sure how much playing time Valdez will get with a healthy Rollins in the lineup, but for the record, he was even-steven in 2010.

Later this week I’ll get into a full write up covering all the parks in MLB and how it could affect the fantasy baseball landscape for 2011.