It’s been a week of big trades for the Mariners as they gut their club. On Monday, the team traded away starting shortstop Jean Segura after two solid fantasy seasons in Seattle. He joins the Phillies, where he’ll have ample opportunity to try the many famed cheesesteaks the city is known for. Hopefully, all that cheesesteak eatin’ won’t hamper his speed. Let’s dive into the park factors to see how the switch might affect his offense.
Let’s start with the various hit factors. Both parks suppress singles by a small degree, so there isn’t going to be any change there. Similarly, Citizens Bank Park is only marginally less pitcher friendly than Safeco Field. So that’s basically a wash too.
The first difference we find is in triples. Once again, we find that both parks suppress them, but Safeco does so significantly more. Of course, Segura isn’t much of a triples hitter. Despite his speed and base-stealing prowess, he only knocked three triples this season and two last. In fact, his Spd trend almost perfectly correlates to his triples totals. So even though Citizens Bank is a bit better an environment to hit triples, the needle still won’t move enough for Segura to matter.
Finally, we come to home runs, perhaps the most important park factor for fantasy owners. Here is where we see the most dramatic difference between the two parks. While Safeco is marginally pitcher friendly, Citizens Bank was the most favorable home run park for right-handed hitters in all of baseball in 2017. That could translate into a potentially meaningful boost in home runs.
Segura has posted a double digit HR/FB rate just twice in his career, and is coming off a meager 6.6% mark, his lowest since 2015. So, there’s ample room for upside. Will the park switch alone allow Segura to realize that upside? Citizens Bank is about 18% more favorable than Safeco for homers, which already accounts for the fact that only half the games occur at the home park. So let’s just multiply his home run total by 1.18% to see what we come up with. We end up with a whopping 12. Woohoo, two additional homers!
Remember though, this was a low year for Segura’s home run power. In 2016, he posted his career high HR/FB rate above 13%. So let’s double his 2018 homer total and then apply that 1.18% boost to determine what his ultimate upside could maybe be. That would bring his homer total to about 24, nearly two and a half times his 2018 mark. Obviously that’s not due to park factors alone, but it does give us an idea of his possible ceiling.
The real problem is that a 20% increase in home run power for a guy who has almost always been below average just isn’t enough of a boost. So while the home run rate should improve upon the move, it might only add a buck or two of fantasy value to his total.
The remaining plate discipline and batted ball type factors are almost identical and not worth discussing. You might be surprised to learn that despite ranking as the best home run park in baseball for righties, Citizens Bank was actually ever so slightly pitcher friendly in 2017. I would have never guessed.
Unfortunately, the team switch isn’t so great as even without Robinson Cano, the Mariners are still projected for a better offense this season. Some of that is the AL, but that fact would lead to more counting stats for Segura.
Overall, it really comes down to how much Segura is going to run. He stole 44 bases in his first full year in 2013 and 33 in 2016 when he went 20/30, but has sat between 20 and 25 every other year. The park switch on the whole is certainly a positive, but not enough so that he should be valued dramatically higher now.
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.