The St. Louis Cardinals are struggling at Busch Stadium this season, and there’s a pretty simple reason.
In years past the Cardinals have absolutely dominated at Busch Stadium. Last year they went 55-26 at home, and the year before it was 51-30. So when the team is 14-21 at home this season, a large question arises: Why?
It has become popular to simply blame the inconsistency of the team; some days the offense will go off and some days they won’t do anything. If this were the case we would expect to see the win percentage at home rise pretty significantly over the rest of the season. In my opinion the win percentage at home will rise due to better starting pitching, but I also believe there is a reason for their struggles at home.
Busch Stadium is not a home-run hitter’s park, and the Cardinals have been a home-run hitting team.
This season the Cardinals have lived and died on the long ball. Even seldom watchers of Cardinals games can see that. In the entire 2015 season the Cardinals hit 137 home-runs. This season, we’re 24 games away from the half-way mark and the team has already hit 94 home-runs, (meaning we’re on pace for almost 270 on the season). Unfortunately no stats exist to show how many of the Cardinals runs have been results of a home-runs, but clearly it’s very significant.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 23, 2016
On Bleacher Report, Busch Stadium is ranked as the 7th hardest stadium to hit home-runs. That’s partially because the fences down the lines (336 ft to LF and 335 to RF) are longer than the MLB average; 332 ft to LF and 329 ft to RF. Although a four foot difference in left and a six foot difference in right doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s actually a pretty significant amount.
This is reaffirmed by MLB Park Factor Rankings. These rankings compare the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road, and thus a rank under 1.000 favors the pitchers. Busch Stadium’s HR factor ranking for home-runs this season is 0.837, sixth lowest this year. To prove this is not a number unique to this year, in 2015 it was a similar 0.857. These rankings show that teams have hit more home-runs at other ballparks than at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are no exception. This year they have hit 43 home-runs in 36 games at home, and 51 home-runs in 35 games at other parks.
For this reason it makes sense that the Cardinals have done worse at home than they have on the road.
I personally think the Cardinals will continue to do better on the road than at home for the rest of the season because of their home-run tendencies. However, I also think the team’s win percentage at home will improve from where it is now. Busch Stadium is considered a pitcher’s park. At the beginning of the season, when the starting pitching was miserable, a poor record makes sense. But recently, the starting pitching staff is hitting their stride, so the future should hold a better record at Busch.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports