Jordan Montgomery Heads to Rangers

Jordan Montgomery is on the move again! After being dealt last year at the trade deadline from the Yankees to the Cardinals, he has now been sent to the Rangers, who are going all in on a championship this season. How might the change in home park affect his results? Let’s consult the park factors and find out.

Park Factor Comparison
Park (Team) 1B 2B 3B HR SO BB GB FB LD IFFB FIP Basic
Busch Stadium (Cardinals) 100 96 92 94 97 96 101 100 101 103 97 96
Globe Life Field (Rangers) 100 100 97 101 100 102 100 102 102 98 101 100

This was nearly a clean sweep for Busch, which has always been one of the more pitcher friendly parks in baseball. Let’s dive into the individual factors and how they could affect Montgomery’s results.

We’ll start with the hit type factors, where we learn that both parks played exactly neutral for singles last year. Montgomery has generally been around the league average over his career in terms of BABIP, with lots of ups and downs. This year, he has been exactly average among starting pitchers. What’s interesting is that he might enjoy a significant improvement in defensive support. The Rangers’ pitching staff has posted the fifth lowest BABIP, while the Cardinals’ staff have easily posted the highest BABIP in the Majors. That’s a massive swing! The Cardinals also rank among the bottom 10 in UZR/150 and in the middle of the pack in Def, while the Rangers are top five in both metrics. It seems pretty clear Montgomery is going to enjoy much better work from his fielders, which should benefit his BABIP.

Moving along to the extra-base hit factors, we find that Globe Life Field (GLF) is neutral for doubles, slightly pitcher friendly for triples, and slightly hitter friendly for home runs. On the other hand, Busch was pitcher friendly in all three metrics, and there’s a meaningful gap in home run factor between the two parks. Montgomery has generally been around the league average in HR/FB rate and currently sports a sub-10% mark, which would represent a career best in a 100+ IP season. The park switch plus some luck regression could push that HR/FB rate back into double digits and to at least his career average.

Next up are the plate discipline metrics, where we find GLF’s only win, strikeouts. While the park is only neutral, that’s better than Busch, which actually suppressed strikeouts last year. Montgomery could certainly use a strikeout rate boost, as he’s currently sporting the lowest mark of his career, supported by the lowest SwStk% of his career. In terms of walk rate, GLF has inflated it, while Busch has suppressed it. Montgomery has generally featured good control and his walk rate stands right around his career average. With his mediocre strikeout rate, we really don’t want to see his walk rate rise any higher.

Let’s hop over to the batted ball type factors that matter. All we really care about is the line drive and IFFB (pop-up) factors, as a lower LD factor and higher IFFB is always good. The LD factors here are close, with both parks inflating the batted ball type slightly. Montgomery has been pretty league average here, but obviously more line drives allowed could result in a higher BABIP. There’s a bigger gap between IFFB factors. Montgomery has generated the highest rate of his career, already inducing three more pop-ups than last year in 57 fewer innings. The hope is this continues or his BABIP might be on the rise.

Finally, we end at the summary run scoring metrics, FIP and Basic. They both tell a similar story — GLF has played as a neutral park, while Busch is fairly pitcher friendly. It’s pretty clear that the park switch alone is a negative here. However, Montgomery should also benefit from significantly improved defensive support. Furthermore, though the Cardinals ranked seventh in wOBA, Montgomery made seven starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs over six or more innings and failed to earn a win, which has left him with an unlucky 6-9 record, despite a strong 3.42 ERA. Perhaps the Rangers provide him better run support, generating more wins. Overall, the move looks to be a marginal positive, as the improved defense and potential run support offsets the slightly less pitcher friendly home park.

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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11 months ago

How much is the strikeout rate factor, in particular, influenced by the fact that the team playing in Busch has put what seems like a negative premium on strikeouts

11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

I was being flippant on them seeming to always like low K guys, but thank you for the explanation.