Ballpark move may not hinder Hamilton HR
December, 13, 2012
By Michael Veneziano | ESPN.com
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJosh Hamilton shouldn't have to change his home-run swing much for his new team.What will the home-run impact be for Josh Hamilton in playing regularly in Angel Stadium?
You might guess that his home run total would drop, given that Hamilton would have played half his season in a ballpark far less friendly than Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Rangers Ballpark had a home run Park Factor that ranked seventh-highest in terms of hitter-friendliness for homers. Angel Stadium rated fifth-most pitcher-friendly. (for an explanation of Park Factor, click here)
But the numbers via a video-analysis study on Hamilton’s home runs and deep fly balls that we did with Home Run Tracker founder Greg Rybarczyk show that Hamilton is strong enough to avoid the ballpark change (and as several of you noted in comments, the climate change being an issue.
A look at all of Hamilton’s homers showed that only one of them would not have gone out of Angel Stadium.
As a left-handed hitter, Hamilton naturally hits most of his home runs to right and right center field, but he has great power to center field as well.
Hamilton hit 12 home runs to center last season, tied with Ryan Braun for the most in the majors. Angel Stadium plays well for home runs to center. There were 31 at the ballpark last season to center field last season, second-most in the American League.
The Angels now have two of the top three players in terms of average home run distance from last season.
In 2012, Hamilton’s home runs averaged of 415.7 feet, second to former teammate Nelson Cruz (among those with at least 10 home runs). New teammate Mark Trumbo was third, at 414.7 feet per home run.
Hamilton could also be helped by the difference from right-center to center in the two ballparks.
Angel Stadium’s fence distances from straightaway right center field to straightaway center field are an average of 15 feet shorter than Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (noted in the highlighted section of the ballpark overlay below).
The diagram below shows the biggest difference in fence distance between the outfield fences in Angel Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Rangers Ballpark is outlined in red). The two black points in right center (along with the yellow shading) mark the spot where the difference is greatest (just over 29 feet at its maximum) between the two.
Hamilton doesn’t necessarily gain much from that, because the Angels Stadium fence is twice as high as Rangers Ballpark (16 feet compared to eight) there.