Corbin Burnes and Justin Turner Are On the Move

Amid a flurry of free agent signings over the past week, we got a blockbuster trade snuck in as well! Former Brewers ace Corbin Burnes was traded to the Orioles, a team that’s still going to take a while longer for me to recognize as being good now. Justin Turner also signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays, where he figures to rotate between DH, 1B, and 3B. Let’s review the park factors to determine how the change in home parks might affect their results.

Corbin Burnes to Orioles

Park Factor Comparison
Park (Team) 1B 2B 3B HR SO BB GB FB LD IFFB FIP Basic
American Family Field (Brewers) 97 97 99 104 103 102 96 101 97 102 101 100
Oriole Park (Orioles) 103 94 95 95 98 98 99 100 102 101 98 98

It’s not every day that a 29-year-old starting pitcher with a career ERA of 3.26 and 30.4% strikeout rate is traded. After spending his entire career in Milwaukee, a park factor comparison should be pretty helpful, as his home/road splits represent a pretty reasonable sample size to learn how his now former home park affected his results.

Let’s begin with the hit type factors. Surprisingly, there’s a rather sizeable gap between the singles factors, with Oriole inflating the hit type, while American Family Field (AFF) suppressed it. Oriole actually ranked third highest in singles park factor, while AFF ranked second lowest last year. That’s nearly as large a difference as you can find from one park to another. Shockingly, Burnes actually posted a significantly higher BABIP at home of .294, versus just a .262 mark on the road. That’s totally opposite what the park factors suggest as the park suppresses all non-home run hit types and home runs are excluded from BABIP.

Obviously, an even worse park for singles isn’t good, but perhaps if he already struggled at home, Oriole won’t be any worse for him. Moving on to doubles, both parks suppress them, with Oriole doing so even more. That should at least reduce his ISO against. Both parks also suppress triples, but he’s only allowed 12 throughout his entire career, so the park switch isn’t going to make a difference here.

Perhaps most importantly, we hop on over to the home run factors. Here we find a dramatic difference, as AFF ranked as the eighth best park for home runs, while Oriole ranked in a tie for 6th lowest home run park factor. That’s quite the opposite from when Oriole Park ranked second in home run factor back in 2021, before they made changes to their park that turned it from a home run haven into one far more difficult to hit one in! As you might expect, Burnes allowed a 14.5% HR/FB rate at home, versus an 11.8% mark on the road. This is a big deal for him, even though he’s a slight ground ball pitcher and strikes out a lot of opposing batters.

Next up are the plate discipline factors, strikeout and walks. Both parks feature similar factors for the pair, with Oriole suppressing both, while AFF increased both. Oriole Park suppressing walks is good for Burnes, but also suppressing strikeouts is not. Burnes has posted a slightly higher strikeout rate at home in his career, but actually identical walk rate compared to the road. While the park switch ain’t great for his strikeout rate, I think the big question is what happened in 2023. His strikeout rate plummeted to a career worst of just 25.5% after two straight full seasons over 30%. He lost 0.7 MPH of average velocity on his cutter, which resulted in a drop in SwStk%, while both his changeup and slider went from absolute elite to just good and excellent, respectively. The effectiveness of those pitches, along with is cutter velocity, will have more of an impact on his strikeout rate than the park switch.

Moving on to batted ball profile, we see that Oriole slightly inflates both line drives (bad) and pop-ups (good), but pop-ups are not as inflationary there than at AFF. It seems pretty clear from the factors that AFF is a better BABIP park than Oriole, which again makes it odd that Burnes posted a significantly worse mark at home.

Finally, we get to the FIP and basic factors, both of which favor Oriole, likely due to the gap in home run factors more than offsetting the BABIP differences. So overall, it appears that from a strictly park switch perspective, this is a good move for Burnes’ ratio projections. He should also receive some better run support as the Orioles project for a better offense than the Brewers.

Justin Turner to Blue Jays

Park Factor Comparison
Park (Team) 1B* 2B* 3B* HR* SO BB GB FB LD IFFB Basic
Fenway Park (Red Sox) 104 109 113 102 98 102 103 100 101 101 106
Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) 99 101 91 104 100 99 100 101 101 100 99
*as a right-handed hitter

It’s almost a clean sweep for Fenway! Turner turned 39 years old after the season ended last year, but we are already slotting him in as the Blue Jays cleanup hitter, as he continues to show few signs of slowing down offensively. So will the move out of Fenway accelerate his decline? Let’s discuss.

Beginning with the hit type factors, we find that Fenway records a clean sweep among non-home run factors, and it’s not even close. Fenway ranked tied for third in singles factor, while Rogers was in the bottom half with a slightly unfavorable factor. Turner enjoyed hitting at Fenway last year, posting a .319 BABIP, versus a .287 mark on the road. He owns a career .313 mark, which is a bit above the league average, so he could certainly lose some singles moving to Rogers.

The doubles factors sport an even wider gap, with Rogers just above neutral, while Fenway ranked second in baseball. Surprisingly, Turner actually hit one less double at Fenway last year compared to the road. The sample size is small, but perhaps his stroke wasn’t ideal to take advantage of its dimensions and Green Monster. That said, I would still expect the move to Rogers to be a negative for his doubles output. Turner has hit just nine triples throughout his career, and hasn’t hit one since 2020, so we don’t care that Rogers is significantly worse than Fenway here.

Next up is the home run factors, where we finally witness a win for Rogers, with a slightly more home run friendly environment than Fenway. Turner posted a slightly higher HR/FB rate at home, but nothing too meaningful to suggest it was anything other than hitting better at home and the slightly favorable dimensions. Perhaps he enjoys a marginal boost in the slightly more favorable Rogers, though do note that his Barrel% dropped to its lowest since 2015, which could portend a drop back to a single digit HR/FB rate regardless of home park.

Moving along to the plate discipline metrics, we find Rogers neutral for strikeouts and slightly unfavorable for walks, both of which are a bit worse for hitters than Fenway’s factors for each. Reiterating the small sample size warning earlier, Turner posted significant strikeout and walk rate home/road splits, with much lower strikeout and walk rates at home. I wouldn’t worry about how his new park might impact these rates. Despite an increase in strikeout rate to his highest since 2016, his SwStk% actually improved to its best since 2019, just barely over his career average. He’s not swinging and missing more, so I wouldn’t expect his strikeout rate to continue rising as he ages. I mean, it could, but it won’t be because he had been trending higher.

The batted ball type factors suggest we’ll get fewer ground balls from Turner, which is hard to imagine given his extreme fly ball ways already! Rogers was neutral for pop-ups, while Fenway slightly increased them, but it’s not something he has struggled with, at least not as a percentage of all the fly balls he hits.

Finally, we arrive at the Basic run scoring factor which suggests a resounding win for Fenway. That’s bad news for Turner’s overall offense, as the slightly higher home run park factor isn’t enough to overcome the reduction in hits. We do have the Blue Jays projected for more batting value than the Red Sox, so perhaps he’ll make up for the worse hit factors by recording more runs scored and RBI as part of a more production offense. Overall, I don’t think this changes his value meaningfully, though it’s good that he has found a home so we could now properly value him.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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28 days ago

Home park factors are only half of the pie. What considerations can be made for the other half now that Burnes is switching leagues?

24 days ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

Fair enough. A compiled park factor generalizing each league might be a substitute, but I don’t know the difficulty of assembling it. Then, it could be easy to slap it on, not necessarily into projections but as a visual similar to how home park factor changes have been displayed up to this point. At least it would be an interesting article to compare the leagues.