MLB ballpark factors: Baseball's best and worst scoring environments
Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is the place to go if you want to see home runs. Photo by John Minchillo/AP.

With 30 unique stadium designs, MLB stands out among its major professional counterparts. Unlike the NHL, NBA and NFL, where playing dimensions are uniform, MLB’s various weather patterns and wall arrangements create distinct scoring environments across the league.

In that sense, the playing field is not level. By identifying which MLB ballpark factors stick out — from friendliest to least forgiving — bettors can make more informed wagers when exploring the player prop market and deciding whether to bet the over or under on totals.

Note: The data in this article derives from a three-year rolling average (2019-21) from Statcast's park factors page unless otherwise stated.

MLB ballpark factors: Overall run scoring

The best: Coors Field, Colorado Rockies

Coors Field is (and likely always will be) the top run-scoring environment in baseball. It caters to 30% more run production than the average park, and at least a 16% bump in all types of hits (singles, doubles, triples and home runs).

The foundation of this mountainous run machine is its atmosphere. Situated roughly a mile above sea level, Coors Field has lower atmospheric pressure and air density than other parks. That means less drag — and more distance — for the baseball.

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Peter Hamlington, a University of Colorado professor of mechanical engineering, explained last summer that spin rates decrease at altitude, which negatively affects the ball’s ability to travel. But that also affects off-speed pitches (for instance, curveballs don’t curve as much at Coors), and it doesn’t do enough to counteract the reduced drag of a ball in flight.

Other excellent run-scoring environments exist in Boston (14% above average) and Cincinnati (12%), both of which we’ll touch on later.

The worst: Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are tied for the stingiest scoring setting (12% below average), alongside the Seattle Mariners (T-Mobile Park) and Oakland Athletics (RingCentral Coliseum). But St. Louis is alone in last place for batting average on contact (7% below average).

Aside from great defence by the home club, Busch Stadium's run deficiency is difficult to pin down. Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP.

Why is Busch Stadium so run-deficient? Honestly, it’s a bit of a mystery. We know the Cardinals have been stellar defensively, entering the 2022 season with 190 defensive runs saved since 2019 (most in MLB).

But there’s nothing notable about the weather in St. Louis or wall distances (400 feet in centre, 335/336 feet in the corners).

For the Mariners and A’s, the dearth of runs is easier to define. Using Statcast’s environmental factors, we know these West Coast venues are two of the three coldest in the sport. Combine that with their sea-level status, and both parks see the ball travel about 5% less than it does elsewhere.

MLB ballpark factors: Home runs

The best: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds

Have you ever dreamed of catching a big-league home run ball? Well, grab a mitt and head to Cincinnati, where home runs are hit 30% more often than normal.

The simplest explanation is the short porches: 328 feet in left field and 325 feet in right. While the left-field wall is elevated to 12 feet, the same can't be said for right field, where lefties like Joey Votto have dealt damage for years.

Baltimore’s Orioles Park at Camden Yards is next in line (27% above average), with a wall in right field that’s only 318 feet from the plate.

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Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium (24%) benefits from a star-studded lineup, which has finished top-five in homers each of the past four seasons. Every wall at Dodger Stadium is standard size (eight feet) and fewer than 400 feet from home.

The worst: Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants

A healthy gust of wind can aid a long ball in the Bay Area, but it can just as easily knock one down. San Fran, which plays in the coldest average temperature (17 C), allows 25% fewer home runs than average.

Oracle Park has a curiously short wall in the right-field corner (309 feet), but that’s offset by the wall’s 24-foot height ... unless you’re, say, Barry Bonds. The right-centre power alley stretches 421 feet, which is great for extra bases, but brutal for four-baggers.

Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium (24% below average) hosted all-star festivities in 2012, which led to an all-time disastrous home run derby performance. Robinson Cano, who’d won the 2011 contest, failed to hit a single ball out of the yard.

Third place in homer frugality belongs to the aforementioned Busch Stadium and RingCentral Coliseum, along with Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. All three allow 18% fewer home runs than average.

MLB ballpark factors: Triples and doubles

The best (for triples): Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers

With a 420-foot fence in centre, Comerica Park is one of baseball’s worst fields for home runs. But boy, there sure is a ton of space for triples.

Take this June 9, 2021 knock by Isaac Paredes, whose deep fly found the grass in the deepest part of the park. Paredes ranked in the 37th percentile in sprint speed last year, but thanks to Comerica's generous dimensions, he managed to leg out his first career triple.

All told, the Tigers’ home field allows 42% more triples than average. That’s the greatest above-average deviation for any team in any offensive factor.

The best (for doubles): Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

The Green Monster, Fenway’s 37-foot wall in left field, gobbles up would-be home runs and spits out doubles. The Monster is only 310 feet from home plate, representing one of the shortest porches in baseball. And its stature makes extra bases extra easy.

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Bobby Dalbec should consider penning a thank you note to a relative of Fenway’s architect, James E. McLaughlin.

Fenway is 37% more favourable for doubles than the average park, and 15% ahead of its closest contender (PNC Park). Though its home run rate is slightly below average, the presence of the iconic Green Monster is a worthwhile trade-off at this 110-year-old park.  

The worst: Mariners, Reds, White Sox

For as generous as Comerica Park is with triples, T-Mobile Park and Great American Ball Park are even more starkly removed from the average on the opposite end (53% below average).

T-Mobile is not a particularly large park, and we’ve already discussed how chilly temperatures and lack of elevation sap its power. Plus, there are no quirky outfield angles to create the type of peculiar bounces that aid some triples.

As for Great American, frankly, a lot of would-be triples clear the wall.

Several stadiums are in a similar range for fewest doubles, but Guaranteed Rate Field (home of the Chicago White Sox) stands alone at 17% below average.

Like the Mariners’ home, Guaranteed Rate is rather symmetrical and lacks any notable wall distances or heights. Like the Reds’ home, most of the deep flies at Guaranteed Rate find their way over the wall.

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