The best picture? The best picture. - Kyle Terada - US Presswire
First things first: Minor League Central is a great resource, and it had some of the park factors all along. Don't forget about that site.
Second things second: Matt Eddy did a great job combining all the park factors into a well-written article here, and he also got some good quotes from officials whose teams play in the most extreme parks. You might know generic labels like "The Pacific Coast League is a hitter's league," but does that mean you have to adjust all of the Grizzlies' hitting stats drastically? You can't tell until you know how Fresno matches up with the rest of the PCL.
Before we check where the top four Giants' affiliates rank within their respective leagues, here's a description of park factor:
The park factor for runs (PF-R) is listed last. A reading of 1.000 is exactly average and assumes that a player will play half his games at home. High Class A High Desert has the highest PF-R (1.228) in the full-season minors, indicating that Mavericks batters receive roughly a 23 percent boost by playing half their games at that park.
On the other end of the spectrum, low Class A Savannah's .880 PF-R indicates that batters are penalized about 12 percent based on their home park.
And on to the park factors and rankings:
|Team/League/Level||Three-year park factor||Park factor rank in league||Combined home runs per game||Combined home runs rank|
|Fresno/PCL/Triple-A||0.965||9 out of 16 teams||1.97||6 of 16|
|Richmond/Eastern League/Double-A||1.000||6 of 12||1.05||11 of 12|
|San Jose/California League/High-A||0.922||9 of 10||1.51||7 of 10|
|Augusta/South Atlanta League/Low-A||0.932||11 of 14||0.72||13 of 14|
If you suspected the Giants' affiliates played in a bunch of pitcher's parks, you'd be mostly right. Fresno does play in a hitter's league, but that's mostly because of teams like Reno and Albuquerque. Richmond's neutral park factor doesn't tell the whole story, either, as the entire league is pitcher friendly, but the Flying Squirrels prevent runs on the road, too.
Long story short: Joe Panik is the best prospect in baseball, and I don't care who knows it. Or not. But the next time you see a stat line and wrinkle your nose, remember that it might be the park's fault. It's always the park's fault. Posey would have won the Cy Young, too, if his hitting stats weren't so deflated.
Looks like the Giants are beating their hitters down and propping their pitchers up from the lowest levels in the minors. I wonder if it's a coincidence or a strategy.