PNC Park is more friendly to pitchers than it is to hitters. Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia is just the opposite. That difference led me to wonder how A.J. Burnett‘s 2013 performance would have been affected if he had been pitching for his new team in 2013 rather than his old team. And the results surprised me.
Citizen’s Bank does make a difference in home runs, walks, and strikeouts in comparison to PNC Park, but the overall results might be very similar.
I used the Park Factors Chart on Fangraphs to estimate what A.J. Burnett’s 2013 numbers as a Pirate would have been if his home field had been Citizens Bank Park rather than PNC Park.
Burnett 2013 PNC / Burnett 2013 Citizens Bank
HR/9: 0.52 / 0.61
K/9: 9.85 / 10.5
BB/9: 3.16 / 3.32
FIP: 2.80 / 2.84
xFIP: 2.92 / 2.99
Citizens Bank Park would have inflated Burnett’s home runs and walks, but it would also have increased his strikeouts. And the net result of the individual amounts of those increases, would have been to keep Burnett’s FIP and xFIP just about the same as it was in Pittsburgh.
It seems that pitching at Citizens Bank is not likely to damage Burnett’s overall results. But the same cannot be said for pitching with the Phillies fielders behind him.
Philadelphia had a team UZR of 65.9 runs below average. The Pirates defenders were 4.4 runs above average.
That difference in UZR is also reflected in the two teams’ Batting Averages on Balls in play. Phillie pitchers had a .306 BABIP. Pirate Pitchers had a .285 BABIP. Part of that difference in BABIP is just luck. But not all of it. Pirates fielders were able to get to a lot more batted balls and turn them into outs than were Philadelphia’s glove-men.
Given that Burnett has become a pretty extreme groundball pitcher (56.5% last year), he is likely to suffer some damage at the stony hands of Phillie fielders.
Another danger for Burnett is Philadelphia’s reluctance to use defensive shifts. If they refuse to put their fielders in the spots where the batter most often hits the ball . . .
. . . A.J. Burnett is going to miss “The Two Clints” a lot more than he will miss PNC Park.