Baseball by the numbers: Pitchers thriving at Wrigley Field

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As a whole, Addison Russell and the Cubs’ hitters have fared better on the road than at Wrigley Field this season. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wrigley Field as a pitchers’ park isn’t a concept that comes naturally to those who think of 20 mph southwest winds carrying routine flies onto Waveland Avenue.

But in 2016, as in 2015, the park has been far from a haven for hitters.

Before embarking on a nine-game road trip that began Monday in Milwaukee, the Cubs had played 71 games at Wrigley and 65 on the road.

At home, the Cubs had hit .249 with a .345 on-base percentage, a .414 slugging percentage, a .759 OPS and 79 home runs. They had scored 344 runs (4.85 per game).

On the road, they had hit .265 with a .343 on-base percentage, a .443 slugging percentage, a .787 OPS and 88 home runs. They had scored 340 runs (5.23 per game).

Pitching stats show the same story. Cubs pitchers had a 2.61 ERA at home and a 3.61 ERA on the road. Including unearned runs, Cubs opponents had scored 208 runs (2.93 per game) at Wrigley and 252 (3.88 per game) in their own parks.

The gap wasn’t as large last season, but the Cubs and their opponents scored 632 runs at Wrigley and 665 in Cubs road games. The 2015 Cubs averaged 4.02 runs at home and 4.48 on the road; they allowed an average of 3.78 at home and 3.73 on the road.

At ESPN.com, Wrigley is listed as having a runs park factor of .854. That means the Cubs and their opponents score 85.4 percent as many runs at Wrigley as they do in Cubs road games. That makes Wrigley the sixth-toughest park for hitters in baseball, with Minute Maid Park in Houston the toughest at .761 and Coors Field in Denver the most hitter-friendly at 1.497.

Baseball-Reference.com calculates park factors as three-year averages. There, too, Wrigley shows as a pitchers’ park. With anything above 100 showing a park favoring hitters and below 100 showing a park favoring pitchers, Wrigley has a park factor of 96 for pitchers and 98 for hitters. It was at 97 for pitchers and 98 for hitters last season, making this the second consecutive season it has favored pitchers after 12 years in a row of 100-plus factors.

The Baseball-Reference calculation is more complex than ESPN’s, with adjustments for factors such as interleague games, innings pitched home vs. road and batters not facing their own team’s pitchers. It’s a lengthy calculation, with details at baseball-reference.com/about/parkadjust.shtml.

Park factors can change over time for a number of reasons — the Wrigley winds, for one. The park factors also are relative to other parks. Wrigley park factors took a sharp turn in favor of hitters when extreme pitchers’ parks such as Dodger Stadium and the Astrodome opened, then settled down some when better hitters’ parks were built.

It’s too early to say whether recent construction, including signs and scoreboard, has changed Wrigley’s characteristics. But what we can say by the numbers is that Cubs pitchers have benefitted from playing at Wrigley, while hitters have been better off on the road.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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