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Effect of Foul Area on Strike Outs: 1954-1968

Ballpark Foul Territory Dimensions Contributes to Strikeout Totals

The Relationship of Foul Territory Area (AF) and Strikeouts in the American League & National League 1954-68

Obective: To study the relationship of foul territory area (AF) and strikeouts (SO) for the years 1954-68 in the American League (AL), and 1954-68 in the National League (NL).

Background: Ballpark AF may add several points to the batting averages of teams playing in stadiums with low AF. Low AF may decrease the numbers of catchable foul balls, increasing base hit opportunities on subsequent pitches. The impact of AF on SO by hitters and pitchers has not been completely explored. An inverse relationship (p<0.02) between AF and SO in the AL in 1964-68, the years the Cleveland Indians were setting new pitching staff SO records, was reported at SABR 40.1

Methods: Diagrams of AL and NL stadiums in use from 1954-1968 were digitally analyzed after downloading with permission from www.andrewclem.com. Linear reference estimates were obtained along foul lines for each park. An irregular region of interest was then drawn to include the entire foul territory area (AF) of each park allowing estimated AF be measured and recorded. Home teams were rank-ordered according to AF at each ball park during each of 3 periods (the AL 1954-68, the NL 1964-68 and 1954-63) (Tables 1, 2, 3). Home team hitters' yearly SO (home and away) were compared for the top 2, 3, 4, and 5 teams vs. yearly SO for the remaining teams of the league using the t-test, which compares the mean yearly SO total of each grouping to that of the remainder of the league. T-test results are significantly different at p < 0.05.

Results: The parks/teams for the years examined are listed in Tables 1, 2, and 3. The corresponding graphic analyses of average yearly SO vs rank order of A are displayed in corresponding figures 1, 2, and 3.

Stadium/Team

AF(Est.)

Rank AF

Yearly Ave SO

Rank SO

Cleveland

43700

1

780

6

Kansas City

35500

2

750

3

Chicago

35000

3

666

1

Minnesota

34100

4

858

9

DC Griffith

Detroit

33900

33300

5

6

785

725

7

2

Baltimore

32100

7

778

5

DC JFK

29100

8

816

10

Los Angeles (’62-3: Dodger Stadium)

28800

9

917

11

Cal Anaheim '64-68

New York

25000

23400

10

11

1054

769

12

4

Boston

22100

11

802

8

Table 1. Twelve ballparks/teams used 2 years or more in AL 1954-68, listed in decreasing order of AF rank with average yearly SO, and SO rank.

Fig. 1 Twelve ballparks/teams used 2 years or more in AL 1954-68 are listed L to R in descending rank order of AF (x-axis) with average yearly SO totals (y-axis). An upward trend line of correlation between SO and AF is present: the smaller the foul area the more numerous the hitters' SO. The largest 3, 4, and 6 stadiums/teams had fewer SO than the remaining teams (p=0.01, 0.01, and 0.03). A strong trend for correlation was present for the top 5 (p=0.07).

Stadium/Team

AF (Est.)

Rank AF

Yearly Ave SO

Rank SO

New York Giants

38000

1

618

1

St. Louis

36900

2

726

3

SF Candlestick ( ’60-63)

36500

3

830

7

LA Coliseum (’58-61)

35700

4

844

9

Cincinnati

31100

5

782

6

Milwaukee

31000

6

714

2

Houston (‘62-63)

29050

7

872

11

Philadelphia

28800

8

831

8

LA Dodger Stadium (’62-63)

28800

9

877

12

Pittsburgh

24600

10

759

5

Brooklyn

23700

11

732

4

SF Seals Stadium (’58-59)

23100

12

846

10

NY Shea (’62-63)

23100

13

1035

14

Chicago Wrigley

20300

14

905

13

Table 2.Twelve ballparks/ teams used 2 years or more in NL 1954-63, listed in decreasing order of AF rank with average yearly SO, and SO rank.

Fig. 2 Fourteen ballparks/teams used 2 years or more in NL 1954-63 are listed L to R in descending order of AF (x-axis) with average yearly SO totals (y-axis). The largest 2, 3 , 4, 5, and 6 stadiums/teams had fewer SO than the remaining teams (p= < 0.01 for all).

Stadium/Ballpark

Foul Territory Sq. Ft. (Est.)

Rank

Area

Ave SO

Yearly

Rank

SO

Atlanta (‘66-68)

46100

1

880

1

St. Louis (‘64-65)

36900

2

903

4

San Francisco

36450

3

915

5

Cincinnati

31100

4

952

9

Milwaukee (‘64-65)

31000

5

901

3

Houston Astrodome (‘65-68)

29050

6

921

6

Philadelphia

28800

7

1004

11

L.A. Dodger Stadium

28800

8

895

2

St. Louis Busch (66-68)

26600

9

931

7

Pittsburgh

24600

10

971

10

New York Shea

23100

11

1047

12

Chicago Wrigley

20300

12

936

8

Table 3. Twelve ballparks in use 2 years or more in NL 1964-68, listed in descending order of AF (sq. ft.), with average yearly SO totals, and SO rank.

Fig. 3 Rank order AF vs. average yearly SO, NL 1964-8. NL Stadiums/teams demonstrate a trendline of increasing SO (y-axis) with decreasing AF (x-axis). Statistically significant differences in SO exist for the 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 teams with the largest AF compared to the remainder of the teams (p=0.049, 0.008, 0.013, 0.003, 0.006, respectively).

Conclusions: This analysis confirms a significant inverse correlation (more AF, fewer SO; less AF, more SO) between AF and SO, for the 3 time periods reported. It reaffirms the previously-reported relationship identified in the AL 1964-68, as presented at SABR 40 . It is hypothesized that the Cleveland Indians pitching staff would have SO more hitters in 1964-68 had they not pitched 81 games yearly in Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Reference: 1. Strike Three! My Years in the ‘Pen!, Tomsick, T. A.., Cincinnati Book Publishers, Cincinnati, OH, 2010, pp. 177-179 (www.strikethree.biz )

Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to Andrew Clem (www.andrewclem.com) for permission to use his stadium diagrams, and to www.baseball-reference.com for yearly SO totals.

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