How Blue Jays players could be affected by the temporary PNC park move


Derek Fisher kicked off in the 9th as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 8-6 in an exhibition game at Fenway Park.

With just two days to go to the start of the regular season, the Toronto Blue Jays seem to have finally found a temporary home.

The club are now set to share PNC Park for 2020, a development that punctuates how bizarre this season will be. While the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball stadium is beautiful and consistently ranks among the best baseball venues around, it’s hard to think that not being able to play in your team’s city – or even country – is an advantage.

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At this point, it’s hard to speculate on how setting up a camp in Pittsburgh will affect the morale of the Blue Jays, or whether a lack of on-field advantage means anything in a fanless season. What we can do is take a look at PNC Park and try to project how his attributes might affect the team from a competitive standpoint.

This process begins by taking a look at its dimensions, which are quite similar to those of the Rogers Center.

parc Left field Center left Centre Center-right Right field
PNC Park 325 383 399 375 320
Centre Rogers 328 375 400 375 328
Difference -3 8 -1 0 -8

These numbers don’t tell the whole story, especially when comparing these two ball fields. The Rogers Center is often a temperature controlled environment while PNC is open to the elements. To get a feel for how the two “play” you need to look at the factors of the park. The graph below shows how everyone is cheering for runs, hits, doubles, triples and homers on average over the past five years, according to ESPN Park Factors. With these numbers, a score of 1 reflects complete neutrality while anything higher favors hitters and anything lower favors pitchers.

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Statistical Centre Rogers PNC Park
Courses 0,99 0,95
Shots 0,99 1
Double 1,09 1,07
Triples 0,96 0,98
Home Runs 1,08 0,9

In an overall sense, these ball fields play the same way, but there is a huge difference between them when it comes to home runs. The Rogers Center is a great place to hit long balls and PNC Park is a tough place to trot. This fact alone is not ideal for the Blue Jays, who have more than their share of dinger-dependent bats in their order.

However, it is not that simple as PNC Park is not egalitarian in its home flight. Instead, he exclusively attacks right-handed hitters. The basic dimensions above are a bit misleading as the venue features a gigantic crease just to the right of the traditional center-left measurement.

This feature is going to be a problem for the Blue Jays right-handed power hitters. According to FanGraphs’ Park Factors, in the 17 seasons between 2002 and 2018, PNC Park was ranked among the three worst places for right-handed people to go 14 times further.

When it comes to the Blue Jays and right-handed power, five names come to mind: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Each might find their new home a ruthless place, but this will not affect them all equally.

The prediction of PNC Park’s main victim depends on several factors. The first is the one that hits the most flyballs. Online practices tend to go for hits regardless of the approximate stage, and while it’s possible that a few possible homers will hit the wall for a brace instead, the bigger issue is that outside players settle under bullets that would have been in seats elsewhere. The second thing to know is who is most likely to hit the balls this way. To achieve this, we’ll look at who hits the ball to the left or center most often when hitting flies. The combination of volume and directionality will give us an idea of ​​who is most at risk.

Player Career Flyball Rate Flyballs shot or hit in the center
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 33,10% 63,70%
Bo Bichette 33,60% 51,00%
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 38,50% 59,90%
Teoscar Hernandez 43,50% 61,40%
Randal Grichuk 43,50% 65,60%

Guerrero Jr. and Bichette’s numbers come from a sample small enough that it is difficult to make a definitive appeal on them. The latter seems relatively safe due to its off-road approach and the former has to worry about elevating the ball more before something like that becomes a problem.

With more experienced hitters, Grichuk seems likely to suffer the most, and a glance at his career home running spray chart shows a few balls the PNC could eat – although to his credit, he is. not the fence scraper type.

The pitching side of this equation comes down to imagining which Blue Jays pitchers would benefit the most from right-handed power nullification. Southpaw starters like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ryan Borucki get a boost because opposing managers are likely to stack right-handed lineups against them. While both have healthy ground ball ratios, knocking out homers is a big part of each of their matches and PNC Park can only help.

Another pitcher who could see his new home improving his fortunes is Trent Thornton. Last season, Thornton’s ground ball rate of 32.9% was the majors’ third lowest among starters with at least 150 innings pitched. If the opponents are constantly putting the ball in the air against him, it could pay for the second player to play in a power park. While the sample is woefully small, guys with low ground ball rates in the bullpen like Ken Giles (39.3 percent) and Wilmer Font (36.8 percent) could also reap the rewards. .

Given that we’re talking less than half of a 60-game season, the result of it all can literally be a few games. However, in this mad sprint, two or three games could make a huge difference – especially for a club like the Blue Jays, whose playoff chances rest on the edge of a knife.


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