How will ballpark factors affect players on new teams?

April 5th, 2024

A change of scenery for a hitter can make a world of difference.

Many batters who trade one home park for another reap the benefits of their new environments. Others, of course, struggle to adjust to the change and can’t replicate their previous success.

Plenty of star hitters changed teams during the offseason, including 2023 American League MVP and three-time All-Star outfielder . But will Ohtani’s move across Southern California or Soto’s trade to the Bronx end up helping or hurting?

Based on Statcast data, here’s how new home parks might affect nine notable hitters who changed clubs this offseason.

Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers
Ohtani left the Angels for their crosstown rivals, signing a huge 10-year contract with the Dodgers in December. While the ripple effect of the historic signing continues, the effects of the slugger’s new home park might be surprisingly small. Both Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium are great places for left-handed power hitters like Ohtani, with the AL ballpark just above its National League counterpart when it comes to Statcast park factors for lefties, based on 2021-23 data. (The higher the park factor, the better a park was for hitters.)

While Dodger Stadium is shorter to left and right field than Ohtani’s old home park in Anaheim, a deeper center field practically makes it a wash where Ohtani is concerned. Had Ohtani played all of his 2023 games at Angel Stadium, he would have been expected to hit 46 home runs; at Dodger Stadium, that number is the same. From 2021 to 2023, Ohtani had 127 expected home runs at both L.A. venues. Park factors aside, of course, the biggest boon to Ohtani in 2024 is the new lineup around him. It’s hard to imagine more lineup protection for Ohtani than hitting between and , something he didn’t enjoy in Anaheim -- particularly with limited by injuries over the past few seasons.
Verdict: neutral effect

Juan Soto, Yankees
A lefty power hitter playing 81 games a year in Yankee Stadium? This one seems like an easy call at first glance, but it’s actually much more complex. Had Soto been slugging at Petco Park in San Diego for all of 2023, he would have been projected for 33 homers. (He wound up with 34, not counting a homer in a game in Mexico City that was not played under Statcast tracking). Move every game to Yankee Stadium, and that total drops to 27. (This home run against the Guardians on June 14, for example, was a homer at Petco but wouldn’t have left the yard in the Bronx.)

How is that decrease possible? As a slugger with power to all fields, Soto doesn’t benefit as much from the short porch in right at his new home ballpark. Thirteen hitters had more home runs than Soto in 2023; only six of them hit more straightaway or opposite-field homers than Soto. As’s Mike Petriello wrote after Soto was shipped to New York in December, while Yankee Stadium has a high park factor for homers by lefties, it’s actually a poor hitters’ park for lefties overall. (Petco Park is in fact even worse.) Soto is good enough to succeed in any ballpark, but it’s not a sure thing that Yankee Stadium will help.
Verdict: neutral effect

, Mets
Sure, Dodger Stadium is tied for the highest park factor for home runs by right-handed hitters, and Martinez certainly is a righty with power. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Martinez’s move from L.A. to New York. As Petriello wrote, Citi Field is a great fit for Martinez, who would have been expected to hit 39 homers in Queens in 2023 -- the fifth-most of any ballpark -- and 36 at Dodger Stadium. (Martinez hit 34 homers last season.) Just take this flyout to left at Chavez Ravine, which would have been a three-run homer at Citi Field.

Particularly when compared with the Giants, the other major suitor for Martinez’s services, choosing the Mets make sense. As Petriello pointed out, San Francisco ranks 24th for right-handed hitters in park factors from 2021-23 and 28th when considering 2023 alone. Martinez’s expected home run total for 2023 if he played every game at Oracle Park? Just 24. While Dodger Stadium is more of a launching pad for righties, Citi Field is a good landing spot for Martinez in particular.
Verdict: slight positive effect

, Dodgers
Dodger Stadium is already paying dividends for Hernández, who clubbed four home runs in his first five games in L.A. All four homers would also have been out of the Mariners' T-Mobile Park, according to Statcast tracking, but Hernández is expected to benefit not only from being part of the Dodgers’ potent lineup but playing at their home park as well. The righty slugger posted a .217/.263/.380 slash line and hit just 12 of his 26 homers at T-Mobile Park in 2023, a year after slashing .259/.309/.519 with 15 homers at Rogers Centre as a Blue Jay.

Although Hernández’s 2023 expected homer total in Seattle (33) was actually higher than his expected mark at Dodger Stadium (31), L.A. is already proving to be an excellent fit. Need an example of how it could help? Marlins center fielder likely wouldn’t have had a chance to make this catch at the wall on June 14 on a ball that would have cleared the fence entirely at Dodger Stadium.
Verdict: strong positive effect

, Mariners
Polanco has been billed as the solution to the Mariners’ recent offensive woes at second base, but he’ll be fighting an uphill battle. From 2021-23, T-Mobile Park had the lowest park factor of any of MLB’s 30 ballparks and ranks below the Twins’ Target Field in terms of home runs as well. This solo shot off the D-backs’ Merrill Kelly is among Polanco’s 2023 homers in Minnesota that wouldn’t leave the yard in Seattle.

Polanco is a switch hitter, but 10 of his 14 homers in 2023 came as a left-handed batter. Target Field is tied for the eighth-highest park factor for lefties at the plate, while T-Mobile Park remains dead last in that category. Despite being an important offseason acquisition for the Mariners, Polanco likely won’t be getting any help from his new home ballpark.
Verdict: strong negative effect

, Reds
Candelario has already taken advantage of calling Great American Ball Park home, launching his first home run with the Reds there on Saturday. While that solo shot would have left 29 of the 30 ballparks (looking at you, Oriole Park at Camden Yards), Candelario is in line to benefit considerably from his change of scenery. Dealt to the Cubs from the Nationals at the 2023 Trade Deadline, Candelario was expected to hit 23 homers had he spent all of last season at Nationals Park or 18 if he only hit at Wrigley Field. That number balloons to 30 at GABP, a veritable launching pad with the highest home run park factor in MLB and the third-highest offensive park factor overall.

That means this Aug. 5 double off the Braves’ Bryce Elder at Wrigley becomes a home run. So does this May 25 flyout against the Padres at Nats Park, a ball that would have left just three MLB ballparks: Yankee Stadium, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park … and Great American. Having 81 games on the schedule in Cincinnati should do wonders for Candelario’s power in 2024.
Verdict: strong positive effect

, Red Sox
There’s just a sliiiiight impediment to right-handed hitters who call Fenway Park home, and it’s 37 feet, 2 inches tall and painted green. O’Neill had nine home runs in 2023, but had he played every game in Boston, he would have wound up with just six. The Green Monster is the major reason why Fenway Park has an average park factor of 100 (16th in MLB) when it comes to homers by right-handed hitters. This solo shot into the visitors' bullpen at Busch? Good luck: That’s going off the Monster. A homer off a 102 mph fastball from Twins closer Jhoan Duran? Oh yeah, Fenway Park is deep enough to right field to keep that one in the yard, too.

That said, Fenway has the third-highest overall park factor for righties, which should work in O’Neill’s favor in 2024. The former Cardinal is healthy after battling injuries for the past two seasons, and he already slugged a pair of home runs in Seattle during the season’s opening weekend. O’Neill could be on track to approximate his stellar 2021, although Fenway won’t do him any favors where homers are concerned.
Verdict: positive effect (but not on HR)

, Blue Jays
Turner already knows what O’Neill will likely soon be finding out: It’s not easy to battle the Green Monster and win. This Sept. 23 single off Dylan Cease would have been a home run in 19 parks, including Turner’s new home field (Rogers Centre), but it’s just a wall-ball single in Boston -- not quite a double, despite Turner’s best baserunning efforts.

Despite Fenway’s high park factor for righties overall, Turner’s deal with Toronto should pay dividends when it comes to his power production. From 2021-23, Rogers Centre had the sixth-highest home run park factor (and the eighth-highest overall) for right-handed hitters. Turner was slated for 20 expected home runs at Fenway in 2023, three fewer than his actual season total. Playing all his games at Rogers Centre would have yielded 25 homers, and that can only be a good sign.
Verdict: slight positive effect

, D-backs
Pederson certainly got all of a middle-middle slider from Braves ace Spencer Strider on Sept. 25. The lefty slugger would have had himself a home run in 29 of 30 MLB ballparks, but unfortunately for Pederson, he was in the one venue that could hold his 412-foot drive -- his home ballpark, Oracle Park. (Joc had to settle for a very long triple.)

Pederson’s new home park is also known for extremely long triples, but it should help his offensive production overall. Chase Field is tied for the 13th highest park factor for lefties, although it’s actually below Oracle for lefty home runs (25th vs. 27th in MLB). Playing in Arizona rather than San Francisco would have led to approximately four more home runs for Pederson in 2023, and that could be enough to make a sizable difference.
Verdict: slight positive effect