By John Franco
The Pirates need power. They’ve called up Pedro Alvarez. They’ve kicked the tires on everyone from Carlos Beltran to Jason Giambi. For all we know they’ve kicked the tires on Jeremy Giambi. But are they going to get what they’re looking for?
Using a tool developed by the fine folks over at katron.org, you can plug in any player and project where their hits would have landed in another ballpark. For example, if you projected all of the home runs hit at Yankee Stadium this season into Citi Field, you can see that the little notch in right-center field would cost the Yankees quite a few trips around the bases:
This tool doesn’t account for height or trajectory, so the statistical analysis will not be perfect, especially with PNC Park’s Clemente Wall in right field, but it is close enough to provide a solid estimate. Let’s review a few players the Pirates are rumored to be scouting and how they have performed in their home ballparks this season – assuming they’ll still hit about the same on the road as they did before their fictitious arrival in Pittsburgh.
For more accurate information, you can review the data on the ESPN Home Run Tracker - link goes to Carlos Pena‘s data in 2011 - but that won’t give you the handy ballpark projection so you’ll have to do the calculations yourself. Consider this more of a napkin sketch than an easel drawing.
Carlos Pena: As a power-hitting lefty, Pena seems like he would be a great match for PNC Park, but he has hit 9 home runs at Wrigley Field this year, and only 5 of them would have cleared the walls at PNC.
Hunter Pence: As a slugging righty, Pence would be more worrisome, since he would be moving from a short porch in Houston (the Crawford Boxes) to a deep left field in Pittsburgh (one that drove Jason Bay nuts at times). For 2011, I’m not even going to bother posting the picture for Pence – he has 4 home runs at Minute Maid this year and they would all be deep in the seats at PNC Park. Instead, I’ll share Pence’s snapshot from last year, when he would have lost half of his 14 Juice Box homers.
Josh Willingham: Sweet merciful crap. I really hope someone in the Pirate organization already knows this, or that someone forwards this blog post to Neal Huntington. Not one of his Oakland home runs would have left the yard in PNC Park.
Carlos Beltran: He might not be willing to come to the Pirates. The Pirates might not be willing to pay the price to get him. But let’s take a look anyway. It doesn’t look great – as a lefty, he’d provide plenty of souvenirs, but overall, only 4 of his 9 home runs would have left the yard at PNC.
Jason Giambi: While I’m not sure he’s up to the challenge of playing first base every day, or chasing down errant throws from Ronny Cedeno and Pedro Alvarez, there’s little doubt about Giambi’s power. All 7 of his Coors Field home runs for 2010-2011 would have cleared the fences comfortably at PNC Park. [ESPN rates 5 of his 10 home runs this year as "no doubters" - compared to a league average of 18%. When Giambi hits them, they stay hit.]
David Dejesus: Dejesus has three home runs in Oakland this year and one of them might have cleared the wall at PNC. I don’t think the Pirates really need him anyway, but they certainly wouldn’t be acquiring him for his power.
Chris Iannetta: This one’s for Paul. Iannetta is a dead pull hitter and would not have to fear the North Side Notch – 5 of his 6 Coors Field home runs would have cleared the fence at PNC Park:
If the Pirates are looking for power, they need to keep their home park in mind. They already have plenty of players who don’t hit the ball out of the park – they don’t need to trade for another one.