Yesterday we took a look at the park factors out in Arizona. Today we are going to look at how they were in Greeneville. While the ballpark existed before the Reds arrived, this was the first year in which the Reds played there. They took over the team from the Astros, who sold the team to them over the offseason. The stadium, Pioneer Park, is owned by Tusculum College.
Before jumping into the numbers, let’s note that these are only being compared to the other ballparks in the league. They are not being compared to other parks in the organization or in Minor League Baseball.
How did Pioneer Park play in 2018?
The first thing we are going to look at is how batting average was altered by the field in comparison to the rest of the league in 2018.
The ballpark in 2018 played a bit differently than it did in 2017. Center field played basically the same when it comes to average. It hurt the players at home versus on the road. It was the corners that played quite a bit different. In 2017 average was hurt by about 6%, while in 2018 it helped by 5.3%. Small differences, but a little bit of a change. Right field hurt hitters in both years, but in 2017 the difference was huge. In 2018 that difference was quite small.
In almost every case, though, it’s how power plays in a ballpark that gives it the reputation as being hitter or pitcher friendly. Let’s take a look at how Pioneer Park played out in 2018. We’re looking at Isolated Power in this case (SLG – AVG).
Left field helped the guys average a little bit in Pioneer Park, but it crushed power output. That’s a stark difference from the 2017 season. Center field, much like average, played out about the same. It hurt players in the power department quite a bit. Right field was where there was a very big difference. We saw the big difference in average from 2017-2018 in average, too. In 2017 the difference in Isolated Power was -103 points. It jumped all of the way to plus .039 points in 2018.
What do we know from this data?
Despite the fact that there were 30 more balls in play to the outfield in Pioneer Park than in road games, the power difference in home runs was quite large. There were 58 home runs in road games, and only 40 in home games. The game played at Smokies Park in Kodak was not included in any of the numbers here – just in case you were trying to add up all of the home runs hit on the season and came up short – this is why. Doubles were identical for the home and road splits, while triples were favorable in Pioneer Park.
Another interesting thing was that there was a pretty big difference between infield hit rates. In Pioneer Park, on infield ground balls, players only hit .099. In road games players hit .127 on infield ground balls.
Much like things were with the AZL Reds ballpark in Goodyear, it’s not always easy to tell why a park played the way that it did. The sample size is quite small in rookie leagues, with 30-35 home games and as many road games to deal with. Then you toss in that the teams have larger rosters and more guys are in and out of the lineup on a daily basis than you typically see in full-season ball, and you get another sample issue at play. The stark differences from 2017 to 2018 suggests that maybe it could be the players rather than a ballpark, or even environmental factor. But, at the end of the day, most of the hitters for the Greeneville Reds probably saw their offensive numbers harmed by the home ballpark, while the pitchers probably saw their numbers helped out a little bit.