Welcome to The Dongers Club 2021 – Park Tiers
This is without question my favorite pre-season article to write each season. I am a stadiums person when it comes to Baseball because unlike every other major pro team sport, Baseball is one where the stadium teams play in as home or visitors can benefit each individual differently. Over the years I have used my own views on how stadiums will play based upon Weather, Match-Ups and Player Profiles to profit in DFS more than any other factor.
Take your xWOBA, xFIP, xSCHNOZZLE stats and throw them out of the window if you aren’t factoring in the stadiums that the games are being played in. There are park factors that you can download off the internet and then there’s the ultimate breakdown which is the Dongers Club Annual MLB Ballpark Guide. This is the article that in years past has explained to you things like Lefties in Cleveland, RH power hitters in Minnesota, why last years top ballpark — Truist in Atlanta is a righties park. We cover why a left handed hitter like Anthony Rizzo favors PNC and of course outline what the real impact on weather is in spots other than just Boston and Coors.
Everyone knows Yankee Stadium is tiny. Everyone knows the Yankees team hits a ton of home runs.
Does everyone know that Yankee Stadium ranked below Tropicana Field in the mighty HR park factors for 2019?
They’re not entirely pointless — just entirely useless if simply copy & pasted. The numbers change year to year and every good projection system will account for the variance over time, but you should have your own ranking on the stadiums and they should be aligned to the type of hitter and pitcher that is playing in that spot on every given slate. If an extreme ground ball pitcher is going in Coors Field that will be covered by everyone. But if an extreme fly ball pitcher is going in San Francisco or Kansas City will anyone mention it? These are big stadiums and a heavy fly ball pitcher there with strike-out upside can really be a good option so long as he has a good defense behind him.
2021 Dongers Club Ballpark Rankings
These aren’t your typical @randomdoucheDFS person on Twitter’s Stadium Rankings. They are unique to The Dongers Club and they are MY PROJECTIONS on which stadiums to focus on.
Things such as …
- The Chase Field Roof
- Lefties in Cleveland
- Lefties in Pittsburgh
- What type of hitter excels in Target Field?
- South Beach Theory
- Why Detroit is the real Windy City
- Concrete theories!
Just a few Dongers Club Park Theories which have proven to be very profitable for DFS and betting.
In 2020 the article big predictions were obviously limited due to the shortened season, but the two main things I left you with were
- Texas new stadium is a dump and would be an extreme pitchers park last year. It was.
- Atlanta was going to blow up for visiting and home teams and be a DFS goldmine. Correct me if I am wrong, but didnt the Braves outscore the Falcons?
So what is in store for 2021 Predictions?
30-26: JUST DONT BOTHER TIER
This tier has arguably two of the nicest stadiums in the league for watching a game and then two absolute piles of shit ballparks for teams who should be fighting for a playoff berth and are great road teams offensively.
30. Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay
Things that have changed in Tampa since I wrote last years ballpark guide.
- They won a Stanley Cup.
- They have had an NBA team play its home games there.
- Their football team lost 38-3 on Sunday Night Football
Things that have not changed in Tampa since I wrote last years ballpark guide.
- The stadium is still a giant dump.
29. Busch Stadium – St. Louis
Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado certainly went from not very historic franchises to a very historic one. The payment due however was massive park shifts for both of them and Nolan will certainly feel it a little bit being in St. Louis now. But he’ll make up for it in other areas which I’ll cover later. Overall this ballpark is one of the most consistent ones at being pitcher friendly and anti-massive power. Which is funny when you consider what McGuire and Pujols did here.
28. Oakland Coliseum – Oakland
I look forward to the year of 2037 when Oakland tries to present another rendering of a new ballpark while they continue to play in the Coliseum and someone continues to bang a drum somewhere out in the bleachers while random homeless people dance in section 247 to the beat of his drums.
The basics remain the same in Oakland, which is a big stadium that has huge foul territory and combined with the Athletics very talented pitching staff makes this a tough spot for opposing teams to come in and do well. The Athletics themselves, like the Rays, can hit pretty good when they go on the road but even at home are a team who is never in a spot to be rushed into lineups. Year after year the Athletics hit for more power on the road than they do at home. This is one of those spots which can be good for non HR stacks because the gaps are so big that you will get lots of guys scoring from first on doubles into the gaps so the correlation factor with stacking matters more here than it does in say Camden Yards.
27. PNC Park – Pittsburgh
This stadium is a Heavy lean towards road lefties for homers and it runs far beyond the Anthony Rizzo in PNC narrative. Why? Like Oracle, this is a pretty stadium, but like Oracle it’s huge in dimensions and it’s nearly impossible for RH hitters to have massive games here unless they’re named and profiled like Marlon Byrd — may he be safe wherever he is these days.
But what is PNC? It’s EXTREMELY deep to left field, just a bout 390 unless you hit it directly down the line. Right field however is more 320-340 but with a high wall. Someone who has a nice upper cut swing to get a good launch angle as a lefty is likely to do well here.
So we no longer have Kyle Schwarber to stack with Rizzo in PNC but instead we now have Joc “Im gonna hit 3 homers on a Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh” Pederson that we can fire up.
26-24: ‘MEH’ TIER
26. Petco Park – San Diego
I have nothing bad to say about this ballpark, but when you factor in the Padres starting pitching and that it generally just isn’t a great night time ballpark for hitting then there’s nothing to get extremely excited about here. Love the park, but it’s boring outside of Sunday afternoons or when there are bee delays
25. Oracle Park – San Francisco
No stadium had a bigger change last season than Oracle (AT&T) park in San Francisco. They moved triples alley in from 421 to 415 and also lowered the wall out in RCF. The park in a very small sample size saw a big boost overall for both visiting teams and the home SF Giants. The major impact in San Francisco is always just how much the wind is factoring in, but also what the temps are. One thing to keep in mind is that in 2020 all the home games were in the late Summer months and we’ll likely see it not be very hitter friendly in April and early May.
24. Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
The Cubs pitchers try to nibble at you. The Cubs hitters aren’t very good. So long as the temps are below 70 degrees I don’t care what the wind is doing because the most entertaining part of Cubs games are if they are day games and if there is some drunk guy out in left center field complaining about having to walk practically 2 miles to the pisser over in right field.
But everyone points to the wind here and it’s not so much the wind as it is the combination of wind AND high temps. Wrigley will flop more than it will succeed as chalk when its a night game and the wind is blowing out.
23-21: SUNDAY CLUB
23. Marlins Park – Miami
Due to COVID and the bad schedule last season we did not get to experience the South Beach theory that often. The Marlins had very few Sunday home games and teams were on super strict COVID lockdown protocols for the short two months. Well, now the players are going to be getting vaccinated and 23-32 year olds who have been stuck at home for far too long in home towns like Chicago, New York, Cincinnati, etc. are going to see a weekend series in Miami and be like
Marlins park actually quietly moved their fences in a year ago and I believe it’s not as bad as others make it out to be. But when it’s a Sunday afternoon home game for the Fish we will use their pitcher because I would like to see you try to hit a Baseball with a hangover.
22. CitiField – NY Mets
If there is one stadium I am always regret ranking too high, it’s Citi Field. And that’s saying a lot considering it’s only 23rd on the list. I have never attended a game in Citi Field, nor do I ever plan on attending one here unless I finally do one of those visit every stadium tours and then honestly the only reason I would go here is so I can visit the site of where the 2015 Royals won the World Series. Thank you, Lucas Duda.
Now, it might seem like I have a theory for just about every stadium. And that is very true. But I am going to be very quick with this fucking place.
Play Giancarlo Stanton and Cody Bellinger here.
Play the OVER on Sunday’s.
That’s the list.
Otherwise, the main reason to deal with CitiField is simply for the Mets broadcast team
21. Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City
The Royals signed Carlos Santana in the off-season. Carlos Santana in 74 games at Kauffman as a visitor has a .327/.449/.628 slash line with 18 homers and 21 doubles. Santana now gets up to 81 home games in this stadium and while he doesn’t get the benefit of the Royals pitching from 2011-2014 when he really tore them up, he should settle in nicely with this new look Royals lineup for him.
The park is one that gets VERY hot in the summer and weekend (specifically Sunday) games in Kauffman are almost automatic over plays. It’s a great park, with fantastic views of the fountains (just dont look beyond the fountains to the giant interstate) and there’s a fly ball to left field and that will make it a 4-0 ball game. Yes, that classic line was in this stadium. So was the classic moment when Bo Jackson fried an egg on the old artificial turf.
20-17: OVER RATED
20. Globe Life Field – Texas
My least favorite stadium from a year ago remains my least favorite stadium now. Do not confuse what you saw in the playoffs with what is going to happen when the Texas Rangers walk through those doors in April. For starters, they were playing with a juiced ball in the playoffs and now we have an un-juiced ball for the 2021 season. Second, we saw the Dodgers and Braves battling here and last I checked the Rangers lineup aint nothing like those teams when it comes to talent or power.
The stadium is below sea level. It has a roof which kills the Texas heat benefit when we need it most in June/July/August and the sound of the baseball in here sounds like someone is hitting inside a giant COSTCO warehouse. The name? Boring as hell. Who the hell named this stadium right after the old park?
Globe Life Park was the old Rangers stadium (which BTW, was perfectly fine).
Cool, lets call this new park ………………… Globe Life STADIUM.
How the hell did the Rangers decide to name this park?
So let us recap the evolution of the Texas Rangers home stadiums…
They went from a god damn jumbotron the shape of Texas which is fucking awesome.
To some weird ass center field with a shit ton of flags, giant billboards and cool architecture that just screams TEXAS ya’ll.
To a fucking domed baseball stadium.
You get an F, Texas Rangers.
New Stadiums = Pitchers Parks
Indoors in Texas = Pitchers Park
We will revisit this stadium next year once the concrete is fully dried out.
19. Dodger Stadium – LA Dodgers
I am a fan of Dodger stadium. Sure it’s old, has ugly seating and no longer has Vin Scully on the call. But the view beyond center field is one of the best in the league so long as you ignore the parking lots and Enrico Pallazo once sang the anthem here. The history of this stadium cannot be denied and every time I see it I hear Vin Scully in the background. It’s also got some weird pull out right field where I swear there is a nice wind tunnel there allowing for it to benefit left handed hitters more. Which is weird because visitors Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt (both RHB) have done fairly well here in L.A. over their NL West playing days. But likely due to the Dodgers having some power lefties this stadium has seemed to play well for the home lefties. Outside of that, it’s just a park that benefits from a home team with very good pitching and a home team with lots of HR power. Should it skew your analysis into using players or not using them? Not really, but day games can be pretty good offensively at times.
18. Angels Stadium – LA Angels
We head up to Anaheim as the two L.A. stadiums come in very close to each other. Angel stadium is not a bad hitters park by any stretch of the imagination. But when you have Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani hitting here it’s going to look pretty generous for offense.
Early in the season it’s one of the few parks we automatically look at because it’s always 70 in southern california right? But long term this stadium has had a long history of the “marine” layer theory, which simply states that L.A. has a heavy marine layer over it and it impacts the Angels more than the Dodgers for some reason.
Night games specifically the air can cause things to travel less. I personally don’t buy into it that much, it’s just a stadium which doesn’t have any hitter benefits but it does have one major pitcher benefit which has long been overlooked.
That is the batters eye during the day time where former Angels RHP Jared Weaver due to his arm angle was labeled as being able to hide the ball extremely well during day games.
The problem is, nobody has really been able to truly replicate the Jared Weaver theory. One, you need the same arm angle. Two, you need to make sure to pitch towards the third base side of the rubber. Three, Jared Weaver was really tall (6’7) and with his long arms could get the ball up to the angle where it started to come from the rocks.
17. Yankee Stadium – NY Yankees
Yankee Stadium, aka “band box” ballpark for hitters and especially left handed hitters and someone will recommend that you should be playing guys here simply for that. Yankee stadium ranked EXTREMELY in the negative for all park factors, runs, home runs, doubles yet again in 2019. Why? It’s either a home run or nothing stadium. You won’t find any Yankee coming in here and leading the league in doubles because the outfielders can cover the entire OF area. The Yankee pitching is good enough that opposing hitters do nothing on the starter and then once the bullpen takes over its lights out.
You know what I never do? I never stack in Yankee stadium and neither should you. But for a few one offs here and there — like Sanchez in a day game, absolutely.
16-14: Depends on the Weather / Roof
16. Fenway Park – Boston
If we simply were ranking the ballparks for Baseball purposes this would be in the top 3. But for DFS in a full 162 game season it’s right in the middle of the pack. Boston can be a tough spot for hitters to come into at times when it’s not that warm or they are in a funk because that green monster without question gets in some guys heads. Until two years ago, Mike Trout had never homered in Fenway if you can believe that! Lots of HR turn into singles because of the wall and when Jackie Bradley Jr was in center field lots of doubles (or homers in other parks) turned into outs. There will be offense in Fenway and when it’s warm and we’re into the 70-120 game stretch of the season with Boston’s pitching staff this is going to be a near top 5 park. But when those factors aren’t in play it drops down considerably.
15. Comerica Park – Detroit
Comerica is a BIG outfield but it gets slept on way too much. Jorge Soler along with many other Royals seem to have a cheat code in Comerica figured out — either that or they just really like Tigers pitching (probably more that tbh). But Comerica has the biggest hidden nugget park factor associated with it. The wind.
When we have the wind going out to left center field around 14mph or greater, the park plays EXTREMELY well for hitting. Don’t ask why, don’t question it, just ride it. It likely happens about 3 to 4 times a season and when it does the visiting team comes in 2-5% owned in all DFS formats while putting up an 8 or 9 spot.
14. Chase Field – Arizona
The roof is back. The pool is back. Fans are back in Arizona this year and we should no doubt see the roof open up more in 2021. The major changes over the last few seasons for Arizona have been closing the roof more, swapping out the grass for longer synthetic shit and installing a humidor. All three individually wouldn’t be that bad, but all three combined have slowed down the cheat code which was Chase Field. But when the roof is open it will remain a great park because no other stadium has as good of a batters eye as Chase Field does. None!
Lord Freddie Freeman loves him some Chase Field. As does Corey Seager.
13-10: THE UPPER MID WEST
13. Progressive Field – Cleveland
Lefties in Cleveland. Nothing else to say here folks, it’s been proven time and time and time and time again. It’s not a theory, it’s not a trend, it’s a cult. You are either in #LiC or you are out.
12. Guaranteed Rate Field – Chicago White Sox
Great offense in a decent stadium, so the numbers are going to be there at the end of the season but Chicago’s probably one of the least sexy stadiums out there. It’s not huge, it’s not small and it’s very symmetrical around the outfield.
11. Miller Park – Milwaukee
A roof stadium that benefits from the roof closed more often than not. Beyond the roof though you need to avoid games where the shadows/glare come into play as is the case for early start times (5pm/6pm) and lots of games early in the season. The Brewers are trying to make up for a bad lineup with better defense and will have Lorenzo Cain + Jackie Bradley Jr here to cut down on the massive amounts of doubles that Miller Park usually yields.
They’re gonna need it when the Cardinals come to down. St. Louis now has the two best active Batters in Ballpark guys for Miller Park with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Would you believe that Arenado is actually more impressive statistically in Miller than Goldy? It’s true.
The Brewers did sign Kolten Wong and I could see him having a good little season in home games.
10. Target Field – Minnesota
One of my favorite sneaky stadiums on the board. Plays great for RH batters, has a nice batters eye that is mixed in with some tree’s and a short wall in left field. A power righty who hits lots of line drives will enjoy a road stand in Target.
Salvador Perez and Xander Bogaerts are your road hitter to target in Minnesota.
9-5: THE MONEY MAKERS
These aren’t quite in the ELITE tier of stadiums, but what makes these great is that they can easily be as good on any given night and a lot of times will have lower Over/Unders which projects them to be fantastic second tier targets for DFS at lower ownership typically — and thus nice money makers.
9. Minute Maid Park – Houston
We’re in the tier of the other roof stadiums as Houston is one which about 80-90% of the time has the roof closed so it really doesn’t wind up mattering that much. Obviously when it’s open and it’s warm out in Texas we want lots of action here. But this stadium favors mostly RH batters with a short porch but a really big wall.
8. T-Mobile (SafeCo*) Stadium – Seattle
Very pretty stadium that looks great with the roof open and plays fantastic with the roof closed. The Angels will come into Seattle and murder the Mariners no less than five times a year, led by Trout and Pujols when he does still play. Seattle has no pitching and a bunch of young hitters on the way, so this should once again be a great target for the road team and pairing it up with some Mariners in nice game stacks when we have two bad arms on the mound.
The Angels rake in Seattle.
7. Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia
The House that Braun built is now the house that Juan owns. No hitter dominates a stadium in his career more than Ryan Braun dominates Citizens Bank Park, but with his career now ending due to a likely retirement the torch must be passed.
Enter Juan Soto
6. Nationals Park – Washington
In my break down a year ago I broke down a timeline of how the environment surrounding Nationals Park has changed over the years. They’ve added a lot of new buildings around the stadium and as more high rises have gone up so too has the offensive output in Washington, DC. The big theory I had behind it was the creation of a dead air and Washington, DC is actually a lot like Atlanta in terms of humidity in the summer months (only not quite as bad). So this stadium has proven to be a great hitters park and it’s favored LH bats slightly more than RH bats in it’s short time. We should see it once again remain to be a good park to look at for offense in 2021.
5. Great American Ballpark – Cincinnati
This stadium really moves at the rate of the Reds pitching staff which is trending back down into 2021. The smallest overall stadium in the league gets it’s weather impact from the Ohio River creating a really thin layer of air around it which can some days just make the ball pop up and end up as a 2 run homer. Any team who plays in a normally large park (Miami, San Francisco, St. Louis!!!) that comes into Cincinnati will generally rake. Paul DeJong? If he doesn’t homer here twice this season I’d be shocked. The Reds are also home to some of the best brawls in the last 10 years with fights against the Cardinals and Pirates ranking way up on the list. The stadium doesn’t really favor one side of the plate over the other and if Nick Castellanos can stay healthy we should see him potentially have that big break out year.
4-1: THE ELITE
4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Coors East! In many ways this and Coors Field (#3 below) play very similarly. Coors is huge and has the altitude while Camden is small and has the Orioles pitching staff. Baltimore isn’t exactly a southern city and so it takes a few weeks for this stadium to get really cranked up for the ball carrying out. Usually in August there is a 1-2 week window when the humidity combines with the shit and piss from the inner city and just creates the worst foul stench you can imagine and all of the sudden we see some terrible team like the Tigers come in and jack out 5 homers on a Wednesday in August before the 3rd inning is over.
It’s a stadium that can make anyone a 20 HR threat over the full season and because of that we have to love it. However it’s a bad park for triples and not a great one for doubles either due to the small dimensions and lack of green space to drop in a two or three bagger. But it is what it is, and that is an offensive boom spot.
Baltimore signed Maikel Franco over the winter and I project him to fall into that “anyone can hit 20 easily here” category. He’ll hit 20 at home.
3. Coors Field – Colorado
America’s donkey field cannot be ignored and sure if you want to obviously say it’s the best ballpark for offense then nobody with half a brain will argue that. But will it be the best for DFS considering pricing, ownership and ability to identify the right targets? Maybe not.
I do think it’s going to be more of a solid park in 2021 than it was in the short 2020 season when Colorado itself couldn’t hit and we only had one true summer month. Coors is actually a really bad hitting spot when the temps are below ~55 degrees and we usually get some of that in April, so it’s important to watch that. One site (FanDuel) makes zero attempt at really pricing up Coors bats and there will be a few slates which completely get blown up due to heavy Coors chalk hitting at insane rates, but overall it’s usually not as bad as you think when there are 13+ games on a slate. We can find alternative options while picking a little exposure into Coors to get the goods and move on.
The 5th inning is always when pitchers start to break down in Coors. The 7th/8th innings are when the games blow up in Coors. Identify who is going to do well in those spots from a pitching/bullpen usage aspect and you’ll become a king in managing Coors exposure.
Random fact. Christian Yelich has never homered in Coors Field.
2. Truist Park – Atlanta
My top ballpark a year ago will come in at number two. The Braves pitching staff is getting better and better so they’re the reason why the park factors remain low here and it is a relatively big stadium that solely depends upon some positive humidity situations to really blow up. But it’s a great park and it has proven to be very good for RH batters in it’s short lived life. The concrete is settled now and the offense in Atlanta should continue to thrive.
Atlanta re-signed OF Marcell Ozuna, which is a great move for the OF Slugger. He hit .364/.470/.636 with 8 HR and 6 doubles in 30 home games at Truist a season ago. With the great lineup still in tact he should be in line for another great home season this year.
1. TD Ballpark / Sahlen Field / Skydome – Wherever the Blue Jays call home
The Blue Jays are going to play home games outside of Toronto once again due to the restrictions from COVID-19 Canadien border rules. So for certain they’ll have a few homestands down at their Spring Training facility in Tampa (TD Ballpark/Dunedin, Florida). From there they could potentially return to the Skydome (Yes, I still call it that) or go back to where they played last year at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. No matter how you slice it, this is the gold mine for this season.
If they were to play all 81 games in Toronto it would be a good hitting environment (top 10) by itself. TD Ballpark has the benefit of Tampa weather (good) and favorable hitting dimensions — including a decent batters eye. Sahlen Field in Buffalo had plenty of games where the wind was blowing out of an already small minor league park and thus we saw lots of high scoring and multi-HR innings up there last year. All three stadiums are great, but TD/Sahlen if they get any home games are immediately the best options on any slate considering they dont have the Coors pricing algo yet.
But add on top of that the Jays lineup featuring Springer-Bichette-Gurriel-Vlad Jr-Biggio-Tellez-etc. and the Jays pitching staff which features Ray-Matz-Roark-Thornton and well, we have ourselves a scenario where all Blue Jays home games are gonna be great on both sides of the diamond.
THE STARTING NINE OF BALLPARK DOMINATORS TO WATCH in 2021
C – Travis d’Arnaud in Citizens Bank
1B – Carlos Santana in Kauffman (Home)
2B – Kolten Wong in Miller Park (Home)
3B – Arenado in Miller Park
SS – Francisco Lindor in Cincinnati
OF – Eddie Rosario in Cleveland (Home)
OF – Juan Soto in Citizens Bank
OF – Joc Pederson in PNC
- All Jays home games are gonna be great for the visitors
- Texas still sucks