Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 1/30/13
More than any other pitcher in 2012, Edinson Volquez captured why park effects matter. The Padres’ righty exhibited a similar profile at home and on the road — lots of strikeouts (8.9 K/9 home, 8.5 away), walks (5.0 BB/9 home, 5.4 BB/9 away) and ground balls (53 percent home, 48 percent away). All marks were slightly better at home, as expected, but there’s nothing in the basics to suggest a significant home/road split. Except, of course, he pitched for San Diego. Volquez posted a 2.95 ERA behind just three home runs allowed (0.3 HR/9) at Petco Park but was ravaged on the road to the tune of a 5.60 ERA and 11 home runs allowed (1.2 HR/9). The aggregate Volquez was a below average but still useful pitcher — he posted a 114 ERA- and 113 FIP-, numbers typical of a fourth or (more likely) fifth starter. A mediocre pitcher finding acehood within the Petco Park walls is nothing new, but it does raise a question: does the pitcher change his style to fit his surroundings when his home park is extreme? Volquez is well suited to this exercise, as he throws both a four-seam fastball and a sinker and neither dominated the repertoire. Volquez threw 27 percent four-seamers against 23 percent sinkers in his 32 starts (PITCHf/x data from Brooks Baseball). A look at the home/road splits here shows a stark disparity: Offspeed usage remained more or less the same, but Volquez’s fastball and sinker usage nearly swapped between home and road. He deployed the fastball well more than twice as often as the sinker at home, whereas the sinker saw nearly one-and-a-half times more action on the road. Volquez and the Padres used an intuitive strategy. Petco Park rarely allows home runs on fly balls, which Volquez’s fastball drew nearly twice as often as his sinker (6.9 percent against 3.9 percent), and fly ball BABIP was still a tiny .173 even with the copious space Petco’s outfield provides. Therefore, stick with the fastball at home and bust out the sinker on the road to keep the fastball protected and the home runs limited. In a way, the strategy worked. Beyond Volquez’s home effectiveness, his sinker was able to keep the ball on the ground on the road — he induced twice as many groundouts as flyouts and hitters managed just two home runs off his sinkers. But it was hit hard nonetheless — Volquez allowed 17 singles and 12 doubles out of the 95 sinkers put in play in road parks, good for a .337 average (.316 BABIP) and a .547 slugging percentage against. When he did go to the fastball, it was utterly crushed. Not as many singles found their way through — just nine out of 64 put in play — but Volquez allowed five home runs and four doubles off fastballs on the road, or nearly one every seven times he threw the pitch. All-in-all, the pitch allowed a .281 average despite just a .219 BABIP — compared to a .318 mark off his fastball since 2007 — and a .578 slugging percentage. Volquez is just one example, but he illustrates beautifully how far park effects can reach. The Padres developed a smart strategy to leverage his fastball — either his best pitch or his second best to the changeup, which needs to work off the fastball — at home but realized its flyballing ways would make relying on it away from Petco Park a risky proposition. So not only did Petco Park impact Volquez’s results, but his tactics changed as well — something I think is often forgotten or ignored as translations are made between parks for those departing or entering San Diego (or, say, Colorado — Rockies pitchers will be worth a similar look). As with all baseball analysis, context is key, and the context of the park extends beyond just results.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Sacramento Kings seriously considering firing George Karl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rick Pitino says school should be penalized, 'but not this team'

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

$40,000 in Super Bowl tickets stolen from San Francisco hotel

Rams fan makes Super Bowl commercial ripping Stan Kroenke

Panthers LB wants 'clown' Rodney Harrison off the air

Jason Reid: Tom Brady will play at least three more years

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker