Runs Hard To Come By In These Five Ballparks
by Robert Ferringo - 6/19/2007
Yesterday we broke down the top 'over' ballparks through the first one-third of the season, so it's only natural that today we show you the other side of the coin and delve into the five top 'under' stadiums in Major League Baseball:
1. McAfee Coliseum, Oakland (10-23-4 against the total) – When the best hitter in your lineup is batting .280 it's kind of a given that there aren't going to be a lot of runs floating around. Combine that with one of the top pitching staffs in the league and you have the perfect 'under' formula. They're still coming 'under' the number at a greater rate than normal, but until they show some pop there's no point in questioning why and how they continue to cash.
2. Petco Park, San Diego (11-19-2) – With monster power alleys and a deep left-field line, Petco is one of the most voluminous stadiums in the league. Kick in some sneaky-good starters and one of the league's most imposing bullpens and each game is more subtle than slugfest. Also, Petco is closer to the ocean – and thus influenced more by cooler evening air temperatures and the denser air that accompanies it – than the old stadium. It's gotta be that, or the fact that they can't hit.
3. Rogers Centre, Toronto (10-25) – (19-11-3) - You want to talk about a place that has no business on this list, the Rogers Centre has been a launching pad for the past eight years. During that time the Rogers Centre has finished in the Top 10 in ballpark OPS seven times and has seen an average of 10.25 runs per game during that time. Yet, this year there's been an average of just 8.33 runs per game tallied north of the border.
Part of the reason for the dearth of scoring is the slick bullpen work of the Blue Jays – even without closer B.J. Ryan – and part of that is a lineup full of underachievers like Frank Thomas (.231), Vernon Wells (.258) and Lyle Overbay (.256). I think the pendulum will snap back the other way at some point this year, but I don't see it happening until after the All-Star Break.
4. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago (11-16) – There is one major reason why the White Sox, traditionally one of the top offenses in the league, have found their way onto this list: they suck. Chicago has the worst offense in the league in terms of batting (.236) and OPS (.676), while also shackled with the second-worst scoring offense. Again, this isn't a trend I expect to continue as the weather heats up. But right now the White Sox are pathetic.
5. AT&T Park, San Francisco (14-18-2) – I mean, Ray Durham has spent most of the cleanup hitter and Barry Bonds' protection. Ray Durham – he of the .257 batting average and 182 career home runs. This is one team that I expect to keep pouring in 'under' plays as the season goes on. To this point there's been an average of just 7.92 runs per game scored by the Bay. The Giants have a solid blend of vets and young guns on the staff, and now that Armando Benitez has taken his traveling circus to Florida I'm going to guess that there will be less backdoor 'over' wins due to ninth inning meltdowns.