Wednesday Rockpile: Coors Field and the Hall of Fame

Doug Pensinger

In a large sample size, and under the worst possible hitting conditions, both Walker and Helton were still pretty darned good.

This isn't the beginning of this conversation and it certainly won't be the end, but I had a thought recently with all this Hall of Fame talk going on: if Coors Field is really the reason to keep out Larry Walker and (eventually) Todd Helton, shouldn't their stats away from home be much worse than their stats in the friendlier confines of 20th and Blake?

I've also been harping on a particular double-standard lately and I think Patrick Saunders at the Denver Post pretty much covered it in this tweet after his conversation with Larry Walker yesterday:

But given that -- as things stand now --  Colorado hitters are punished for playing here and no pitcher I've ever heard of has had his home ballpark even mentioned during his HOF debate, I figure the first step is to take a look inside the numbers that Walker and Helton put up (min 100 PAs) over their careers in other parks.

Todd Helton's Career Splits, by Ballpark

I Split PA 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
MON-Stade Olymp. 121 3 9 23 .357 .463 .663 1.126 .317
HOU-MinuteMaidPk 159 12 8 24 .349 .453 .643 1.096 .330
PHI-VeteransStad 108 7 5 16 .356 .463 .622 1.085 .386
COL-Coors Fld 4841 321 227 859 .345 .441 .607 1.048 .348
NYM-Shea Stad 144 14 6 18 .323 .413 .581 .993 .333
MIL-Miller Pk 143 9 8 24 .292 .399 .583 .982 .303
STL-Busch Stad 121 5 9 16 .277 .388 .594 .982 .232
SDP-PetCo Pk 337 22 10 36 .338 .445 .523 .968 .370
CIN-GreatAmer BP 124 6 5 19 .336 .403 .527 .930 .344
ARI-Bank One Bpk 454 32 13 53 .283 .399 .481 .880 .297
PIT-PNC Pk 149 5 5 20 .273 .403 .438 .841 .286
ATL-Turner Fld 199 11 6 29 .287 .382 .456 .838 .331
CHC-Wrigley Fld 210 14 8 26 .258 .352 .472 .824 .270
SDP-Qualcomm St 206 13 5 14 .275 .369 .433 .802 .321
LAD-Dodger Stad 487 17 13 56 .262 .370 .403 .773 .301
FLA-Dolphins Std 133 8 3 16 .237 .316 .415 .731 .281
SFG-SBC Park 404 24 6 40 .246 .359 .368 .727 .284
STL-Busch Stad 3 107 7 1 9 .223 .308 .330 .638 .282
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.


Larry Walker's Career Splits, by Ballpark

I Split PA 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
COL-Coors Fld 2501 178 154 521 .381 .462 .710 1.172 .385
ATL-Turner Fld 118 6 7 22 .317 .415 .624 1.039 .321
ARI-Bank One Bpk 170 11 5 23 .350 .465 .550 1.015 .404
CHC-Wrigley Fld 304 14 12 51 .329 .451 .551 1.002 .329
CIN-Cinergy Fld 250 15 16 48 .293 .368 .586 .954 .304
ATL-Atl-Fulton 144 6 7 23 .326 .382 .545 .927 .356
SDP-Qualcomm St 322 13 23 59 .274 .354 .573 .927 .254
STL-Busch Stad 558 29 28 87 .294 .391 .536 .926 .300
FLA-ProPlayerStd 194 6 8 25 .286 .402 .497 .899 .304
MON-Stade Olymp. 1369 84 56 211 .293 .373 .518 .890 .322
SFG-3Com Park 213 7 8 24 .279 .373 .459 .832 .303
PHI-VeteransStad 258 14 8 29 .264 .364 .445 .810 .296
LAD-Dodger Stad 302 10 10 34 .275 .365 .443 .808 .337
PIT-3 Rivers Std 251 13 10 29 .266 .323 .463 .786 .291
NYM-Shea Stad 267 16 8 34 .218 .296 .389 .685 .243
SFG-PacBell Park 117 4 2 11 .208 .350 .333 .684 .281
HOU-Astrodome 162 10 1 9 .217 .304 .308 .612 .280
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.

I could pour through those stats for a while (and I will) but what struck me the most is right in line with what Walker mentioned to Saunders; I was expecting their numbers in the pitcher-friendly, west-coast parks to be killing their overall numbers and at first glance this didn't seem to be the case.

So I did some number crunching of my own (don't worry I'll recover from brain freeze any day now) and figured I would combine each guy's plate appearances at the NL West opponents not named Arizona (still a hitters park) and see how our purple-clad HOF candidates stood up.

Numbers for games in LAD, SFG, and SDP

Split PA OBP OPS BABIP
Todd Helton 1434 .386 .822 .319
Larry Walker 954 .360 .812 .293

As per usual, I'm not sure I've reached any conclusions here. Both guys take obvious hits when playing in these environments -- and so does almost everybody else -- but still, the stats are anything but abhorrent and suggest to me that although Coors Field clearly helps the overall numbers, there are plenty of other mitigating factors than "Coors" vs "Not Coors."

If the argument against letting these guys in the Hall is that "production is production and HOF players must produce on the road" then we need to pour into these numbers even deeper and take a look at the disparity in the home/road splits of Hall-of-Famers who didn't play at Coors.

However, if the argument is "Coors Field simply means you cannot trust the overall numbers because they inflate the entire notion of them as hitters" then I think the numbers above go a long way toward countering that argument.

In a large sample size, and under the worst possible hitting conditions, both Walker and Helton were still pretty darned good.  These numbers show that they were not products of Coors Field -- simply masters of it while being mostly well-above-average everywhere else.

Off-topic.

Los Links

Baseball Prospectus ranks the Rockies Top 10 prospects and holy WOW Raimel Tapia!

Beyond the Boxscore has their picks for the Hall of Fame. For the record (and since I'm not even close to getting a vote) here would be my ballot (in order of preference): Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Walker, Piazza.

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