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Wrigley Field: Where Young Astro Hitters Impress

Tuesday night's game was like so many at Chicago's Wrigley Field: wind blowing out and pitchers giving up hard hit balls in droves. Brownie and JD do a great job of explaining concepts both large and small in the baseball universe, and on numerous occasions the duo discussed the effect that wind has on the Northside stadium.

The point of their discussion is a large part of why the Cubs' home park is great hitter's park. In all of baseball, Wrigley Field ranks third in park effect (or batting park factor) which at its essence shows just how much a particular ballpark contributes (or detracts) from run scoring. A park factor of more than one means that the ballpark contributes to run scoring, (as compared to a hypothetical run neutral park), and a park factor of less than one means the park suppresses run scoring more than the same run neutral park. The popular refrain that Wrigley Field is an hitter's haven is true not only in the subjective mind of announcers, but when the numbers are played out as well.

Nobody knows the truth of this statement more than the youngest Astro hitters. While so much of being a fan of this year's team is staying patient as our baby-Stros learn the ropes, trips to Chicago have meant that the training wheels come off and the guys start to mash like seasoned veterans. Highlights of this success are as follows:

Chris Johnson:

  • First career home run was hit in Chicago on July 19th. He followed that game up with another power filled outing on the 20th, hitting the second bomb of his young career. Then yesterday, home run number seven on the season and number three in Chicago was deposited in the left centerfield bleachers. So that's 16 total ABs for CJ in Chi-Town and three home runs. His remaining four home runs away from the Friendly Confines took 237 AB. 

Jason Castro:

  • Home Run number one for Castro wasn't hit in Chicago (it was hit at the Juice Box against the Giants on 6/24), but his first multi-run home run was hit on the road against Chicago in the same game which saw CJ knock his first. I think what we've seen over the past two weeks or so is Castro's talent and his luck starting to come together. Once the two begin to equalize to an extent, we can start to get a better idea of the kind of hitter Jason is. Keep in mind that his current .300ish OBP comes as a result of a low BABIP and .220 BA. 

Brett Wallace

  • The Walrus saw his batted ball leave the park on Tuesday night, just a few pitches after Chris Johnson's fly ball was caught on the warning track. Wallace has had a tough go of things in his first major league ABs, looking off kilter much of the time. He has amassed 30 strikeouts in those 100 or so ABs, a pace that is unlikely to endure, but is troubling nonetheless. Swinging at bad pitches and failing to take advantage of his strong lower half in his swing mechanics seem to be two good places for Brett to assess things after the season. That being said, maybe the magic of Wrigley will propel Wallace to bigger and better things during the final 1/8 of the season.

One last point about park factors. Did you scroll down on the link to see where Minute Maid ranked? I'll save you the time if you hadn't: 27th of 30. MMP still helps in the HR and 3B categories, but suppresses doubles and hits in general to a great extent. This helps explain why the offensive-light Astros have played above .500 at home while struggling on the road. While the Cubs have mashed with the best of 'em in our league, their home mark is 33-40. Opponents can take advantage of the offensive environment just as much as the home club, something the Astros' young trio learned early on in their careers.