Joe Musgrove Travels Cross Country, Joins Padres

The Padres are at it again, this time participating in a three-team trade that sees them acquiring starting pitcher Joe Musgrove. Musgrove has been a popular sleeper for the past couple of seasons, despite having never posted an ERA below 4.00 or a strikeout rate above 22%. He did accomplish both over 39.2 innings in 2020, though, but obviously such a tiny sample size doesn’t mean a whole lot. His career SIERA is a bit lower than his ERA, offering hope for better and a velocity surge at times also excited many. He’s been a tease so far, so will his new home park give him a better chance of breaking out? Let’s consult the park factors.

Park Factor Comparison
Park AVG 1B 2B 3B HR SLG wOBAcon RBIcon
PNC Park (Pirates) 100 98 111 98 94 100 100 99
Petco Park (Padres) 99 98 99 97 102 100 99 100

Gosh, that looks pretty darn even! That’s no fun. Let’s discuss each individual factor and decide whether there might be some sort of effect on Musgrove’s metrics.

We begin with AVG, which could be affect by strikeout rate and BABIP factors, both of which are not calculated for us. As noted in the introduction, Musgrove had not posted a strikeout rate above 22% in his career until 2020, so with this past short season’s 33.1% mark, his career mark stands just above the 22% level at 22.3%. Clearly, there’s room for strikeout rate upside, but we don’t know if Petco provides that. Musgrove hasn’t exactly struggled with BABIP through his career, sporting a career high of .318 in 2020, but his .301 career mark is definitely above the league average, which bounces around the low-to-mid .290 range. That means that there’s also ample room for a home park to suppress his BABIP. So it’s good to see that Petco sports a slightly lower AVG factor than PNC, but the two parks are as close as it gets without being identical, so there’s unlikely to be much actual impact on Musgrove’s batting average allowed solely due to the park switch.

Not surprisingly given that AVG is so close, the 1B park factors are identical, with both parks suppressing them by two percent. On the other hand, Petco slightly reduces doubles, while PNC inflates them, so that’s a positive for Musgrove. We don’t see a whole lot of triples, and the two parks are only one point apart here, so that’s not going to have an impact.

Last, we move to home runs, where we once again see a significant difference. Petco has actually boosted home runs by two percent, while PNC has suppressed them. Like it does for many pitchers, Musgrove’s HR/FB rate has bounced around, hitting a low of 10.2% in 2018 and a high of 17.2% this year (or 16.4% in 2017 over a larger sample). However, he sports a career HR/FB rate of 13.0%, while the league mark was 13.7% over that same time period, so he hasn’t had a persistent issue with the long ball. The park move is a clear negative as he’ll no longer benefit from the pitcher friendly home run atmosphere at PNC. That means his HR/FB rate projection should increase, which will raise his ERA and WHIP, but be partially offset by the drop in doubles allowed.

Interestingly, the parks sport identical SLG factors, which are both exactly neutral. That means that the doubles and home run factor differences essentially completely cancel each other out. That’s good news, because combined with the near identical AVG factor, it suggests there really isn’t much difference between the parks after all.

The wOBAcon factors confirms that, with the factors matching the AVG factors. Petco sports a slightly pitcher friendly wOBAcon factor, while PNC is neutral. Once again, we find that interestingly the RBIcon factors are reversed, with PNC having the advantage this time.

Overall, it seems pretty clear that the park switch alone shouldn’t have any impact on Musgrove’s projection. Perhaps the shape changes a bit with previous doubles turning into home runs, but that shouldn’t affect his ERA and WHIP projections much, if at all. What fantasy owners will care much more about is the far stronger offensive support which should lead to more wins (LOL that he won just one game over eight starts in 2020).

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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1 year ago

Mike, any truth to rumors that Musgrove didn’t travel to SD specifically for fish tacos?