Today we are going to dive into the park factors for the Billings Mustangs. They play their home games at Dehler Park, their home for the last 11 years. The dimensions to left and center field are fairly standard at 329 feet and 410 feet. Right field, however, is a different story. Down the line it’s 350 feet to the fence.
Billings plays in the very hitter friendly Pioneer League. It’s among the more hitter friendly leagues in all of Minor League Baseball. But, historically, Dehler Park has been the park that stands out for being pitcher friendly by comparison.
Before we dive into the numbers below, this is your reminder that they are only being compared to the other parks in the league and not to all parks in the Minor Leagues.
How did Dehler Park play in the 2018 season?
The first thing we want to look at is how average was changed by the home ballpark versus the road.
This was a bit of a change from the previous season. Left field and right field still hurt hitters in average, but by much smaller amounts. Center fielder went from hurting hitters in 2017 to slightly helping them in 2018. The park, at least from an average standpoint, was more hitter friendly than in the past – but still hurt hitters a small amount.
As has been noted before, it’s more how a ballpark changes the power output that dictates how we feel about a park. Let’s take a look at how Dehler Park changed the output for hitters in 2018. We’re looking at Isolated Power here, which is average subtracted from slugging.
Here is where we see the differences that make Dehler Park the “pitchers park” in the Pioneer League. No matter where you hit the ball, it hurt your power. Both of the corners kept power down a little bit, but center field just crushed power output by comparison. With that said, it wasn’t quite as bad to center as it was the previous year, when the difference was -44.3%.
What do we know from this data?
Like the other rookie league park factors, we are dealing with a small sample size. And that does come into play in terms of how reliable the data itself is. But, the park played out generally how it’s played out in the past: pitcher friendly by comparison to the league.
There were significantly more balls in play in road games than home games (weather caused there to be a few “home games” played on the road in 2018). Still, there was an enormous difference in the home run splits. At home there were 29 home runs hit between the two teams playing in Dehler Park. In road games there were 74. The road games also favored doubles. Triples were far more frequent in Dehler Park, with 27 of them against just 16 on the road.
One interesting note is that on fly balls that made it to the outfield, players hit .260 on them in Dehler Park. In road games they hit .314 on fly balls that made it into the outfield. There are some really small ballparks in the league. Dehler Park has some of the bigger dimensions. That’s probably got something to do with it, but I found it interesting.