The Toronto Blue Jays have hit 44 home runs at home this season, six more than any other team and 33 percent more than any other American League outfit. Somewhat surprisingly given their success, they also rank tied for second in home runs surrendered at home with 30, just four behind the league’s leader. Add it up and 77 home runs have been hit at Rogers Centre, even though the Jays have split their games evenly between home and road.
Relevant to those statistics is that the dome was open for three of the past five games, during which 10 home runs were hit (19 percent more than the dome-closed average this season). Except…the status of the dome doesn’t really matter.
Last summer, a lot of what I did in this space, once the data become more robust, was examine how parks play in certain wind conditions. While we can expect Vegas over/under lines to help us judge the overall run scoring environment in general, it’s helpful to know what they’re looking at when they shift a game by a run or half-run.
What I found back on July 21, building on research from Rob Pettapiece that showed the “dome open effect” was non-existent once controlling for temperature, was that the wind at Rogers Centre, as reported at first pitch, only tends to have a minimal effect. Most notably, when the wind is blowing “in,” as it was on May 26 when the Rays and Jays combined for six home runs, the park didn’t play any less favorably than normal. So don’t assume Thursday’s mild wind to left field is a boon if the dome is open, and don’t consider it a bad thing if the roof is closed (and since it’s R.A. Dickey, you know they’ll err on the side of closing it).
Note: As of this writing, Giants-Cardinals at 8:15 p.m. looks too risky for weather to use in any early-start formats.
The Daily Five
Zack Wheeler – $13,804
It’s slim pickings in terms of cheap pitchers but the Phillies and their .292 wOBA against righties present a nice opportunity for Wheeler to see some correction between his ERA and DIPS. He’s striking out enough batters to be relevant, and the walk rate is negated at least some by an appreciable ground ball rate keeping the ball in the park. He also happens to project for the lowest cost-per-point on my spreadsheet for Thursday.
Jake Peavy – $13,688
Dare you use Peavy at Fenway, when bookmakers have set the line at 8.5 even with Mike Minor on the hill? No, Peavy hasn’t been great, with an uncharacteristic spike in walk rate, and his success moving forward does seem somewhat tenuous. Still, on a thin day, drawing the Braves’ .281 wOBA (29th in baseball) and 22.9 percent strikeout rate (fourth) against righties is about as good as you can hope for. The $27K combination of the two may also allow you to spend on a better third arm, should your hitting budget allow (failing that, Dickey against the punchless Royals isn’t a bad third deal, which would allow you $6,370 per hitter).
Orioles stack – Brad Peacock has been more or less terrible so far, striking out nearly a batter per inning but walking six per nine and getting touched for home runs, a problem that has plagued him fairly consistently since reaching High-A.
Nick Markakis – $6,042 (he’s been disappointing, but still has a .341 wOBA against righties)
J.J. Hardy – $4,491 (he has a 42.6 percent fly ball rate against righties with zero home runs despite an 11 percent HR/FB rate for his career)
Manny Machado – $5,331 (here’s guessing that RBI total of five starts to climb, and he’s looked comfortable of late)
Those three discounts should allow you to justify one of Chris Davis ($8,670) or Nelson Cruz ($9,411) to really punch things up.
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Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.