Juan Soto Returns to East Coast

Last week, Juan Soto was traded as part of a blockbuster, sending him back to the East Coast, this time to the Yankees. Let’s consult the park factors to find out how the park switch might impact his results.

Park Factor Comparison
Park (Team) 1B* 2B* 3B* HR* SO BB GB FB LD IFFB Basic
Petco Park (Padres) 98 99 76 97 101 100 99 98 100 102 94
Yankee Stadium (Yankees) 97 94 79 107 100 99 98 102 97 103 98
*as a lefty

Not the clean sweep for Yankee that you expected, eh?

Let’s begin with the hit type factors. Here, we find the singles factors pretty darn close for the two parks, both of which suppress the hit type, though Yankee did so slightly more. Soto owns a career BABIP of .307, above the league average, but has finished below .300 the past two seasons. Perhaps a BABIP-inflating park would have helped him get back over .300.

The doubles factor is a similar story, but the gap is larger, with Yankee suppressing it more significantly than Petco. Soto matched a career high this season with 32 doubles, so he’ll likely struggled to reach that total again in a less favorable park. Both parks dramatically reduce triples, with Yankee doing so slightly less so. That shouldn’t matter much, as he has just 11 throughout his entire MLB career, with five of those coming back in 2019.

Finally, we arrive at the home run factor, which is undoubtedly what most are excited about, knowing the perception of Yankee Stadium. Yankee is one of the top left-handed home run parks in baseball, while Petco is below average. That’s not the biggest swing a hitter could experience, but a meaningful one for sure. Last year, Soto posted some crazy home/road HR/FB rate splits. He posted just a 17.6% HR/FB rate at home, but a big 30.7% mark on the road. Obviously, that doesn’t automatically mean his HR/FB rate is going to skyrocket now, but he seemed pretty clearly held back by Petco this season.

The one caveat here is that he actually pulls his flies less frequently, while going the opposite way with his flies more frequently, than the league average. So he might not be the type to benefit as much from the friendlier dimensions on the pull side as others might. Still, this is obviously good for his HR/FB rate, but getting his FB% back up will be just as important, as a hitter with his kind of power should not be hitting grounders at a 50%+ rate.

Next up are the strikeout and walk factors, which are almost identical. Soto has walked more than he has struck out each season since 2020, but his strikeout rate surged to its highest since 2019 this year, despite no real movement in his SwStk%. It’s something to monitor, but the park switch shouldn’t impact his strikeout and walk rates much, if at all.

We hop along to the batted ball type factors and see that Yankee inflates fly balls, which is something Soto could really used, as alluded to above! Unfortunately, he could also reverse his LD% trend, but Yankee has suppressed those. Just once has Soto posted an LD% over 20%, so getting back to that mark would help his BABIP rebound. The IFFB factors are similar, with both parks inflating the pop-up batted ball type. Soto’s has been better than league average the majority of his career, with just one double digit mark posted in 2022.

Alas, we reach the Basic, overall run scoring, factor. Remember that this is for both handedness, so Yankee might be slightly higher when isolating lefties. Because of the higher HR factor, Yankee is pretty clearly the more favorable park for left-handed hitters.

Given the worth of home runs in fantasy leagues, he probably does get a bump in fantasy value, though I’d really like to see his FB% higher. With him now in town, and hopes of a rebound by both Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, whoever hits leadoff is going to score a boatload of runs.

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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2 months ago

Yikes, I knew Soto didn’t hit a ton of fly balls, but he was 108/133 (roughly the 19th percentile) out of the qualified hitters last year and that was with his FB% (32.4%) almost exactly at his career average (32.8%). It’s kind of amazing that he can put up the offensive numbers he does with a career 49% GB rate. So without a swing change (and why would he with his success), I agree that he’s not the best suited to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch.