Shohei Ohtani Remains in Los Angeles Area…But Switches Teams

I was literally in the bathroom in one of those fancy “malls” in New York City when I heard someone shout to their friends that Shohei Ohtani just agreed to a $700-million contract with the Dodgers. The voice didn’t mention how many years, but I figured it had to be for like 20 years to make this contract not so absurd. Nope, 10 years at $70 million a year. Seriously?! Anyway, I’m not here to evaluate the contract, but instead, let’s consult the park factors to find out how making the journey North from Anaheim to Los Angeles might impact his results.

Park Factor Comparison
Park (Team) 1B* 2B* 3B* HR* SO BB GB FB LD IFFB Basic
Angel Stadium (Angels) 99 96 98 108 102 101 100 99 103 92 102
Dodger Stadium (Dodgers) 96 97 80 102 100 95 97 102 98 99 97
*as a lefty

So many surprises here! This is definitely not what I expected to see. Let’s dive in.

We’ll start as usual with the hit type factors. Both parks actually suppress all non-home run hit types. Unfortunately for Ohtani, Dodger suppressed singles relatively significantly, ranking as the third worst place for left-handers for that hit type in baseball. Outside of a tiny sample 2020 in which he posted just a .229 BABIP, he has posted a mark of at least .303 during every other season and sports a career .325. So he’s been pretty darn good at hitting for BABIP and also sports near identical home/road splits in the metric. However, he’s now at risk of suffering a decline due to the park switch.

The doubles factors are close enough to not expect much of an impact, while there’s a significant disparity between triples factors. Dodger ranked fifth worst in baseball for lefty triples, which might knock a triple off his total for the year. Of course, that might merely turn it into a double, but that does reduce his chances of scoring a run.

It’s home run factor time! This was quite the shocker. I had no idea that Angel was so good for left-handed home runs. It actually ranked fourth best for left-handed dingers, and shows up strongly on the Statcast factors as well. Interestingly, the park factor first surged from 2016 to 2017, but I couldn’t find any changes to the park that would cause such an increase. Whatever the explanation, it’s now apparently a top left-handed home run park. Ohtani has seemingly enjoyed playing at his home’s home run favoring environment, posting a career 30.1% HR/FB rate there versus a 24.8% mark on the road. While Dodger also inflates left home runs, it doesn’t do so as strongly as Angel, so he’s at risk of suffering a decline in HR/FB rate due solely to the park switch. Of course, he just posted a 31.2% HR/FB rate, so we probably would have expected some regression anyway.

Moving on over to the strikeout and walk factors, we find that Dodger, with its neutral strikeout factor, is slightly more hitter friendly than Angel. That matches up with Ohtani’s home/road strikeout rate splits, as he has actually struck out more at home. Maybe his strikeout rate improves marginally from the switch. There’s a wider gap in the walk factor, with Dodger being the worst park in baseball for walks. Who knew?! Ohtani just notched a new career high walk rate just over 15%, so again, regression likely would have been expected, but perhaps more now given the park switch.

Next up at the batted ball type factors where the park switch might cause a swap from ground balls to fly balls. That’s mighty fine for a hitter with Ohtani’s power! The line drive and IFFB factors help explain the gap in singles factor. Both of those factors favor the hitter more at Angel than Dodger. Ohtani’s LD% has been in decline the last couple of years, but he has done a great job avoiding the pop-up, even as a fly ball hitter. You hope that those rates don’t move in the wrong direction.

Finally, we arrive at the Basic run scoring factor and learn that Dodger is overall a pitcher’s park, while Angel a hitter’s. From a strict park factor standpoint, it would appear that Ohtani is at risk of losing both BABIP and HR/FB rate moving to Dodger. That ain’t great. But, he clearly moves to a better lineup, going from a team that ranked just 16th in runs scored (yes, they were crushed by injuries) to the second highest run scoring team in baseball. And oh my, the Dodgers top three is one heck of a trio, all posting OBP marks over .400 in 2023. Since Freddie Freeman just swiped 23 bases, I don’t think we have to worry about Ohtani slowing his running game, at least not as a result of organizational philosophy.

I think the move might hurt his batting average and HR/FB rate, but lead to more RBI and runs scored. It’s probably close to a wash in fantasy value, though I’m guessing that most will perceive this as a positive for his fantasy value, which could inflate his price.

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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