The KC Royals are likely to face a nightmare match-up in Toronto if they lose home field advantage to the Blue Jays for the playoffs.
I don’t just mean Toronto’s best-in-baseball offense and their home park’s favorable home-run dimensions. The Rogers Centre turf also seems to suppress batting average on balls in play (BABIP) according to a recent study by Hardball Times writer Benjamin Dozdoff.
Dozdoff studied home and away BABIPs for Toronto’s pitchers and hitters over the last three seasons. Both showed much lower BABIPs at the Rogers Centre than on the road, as you can see in the below tables which I reproduced from Drodoff’s analysis (I highly recommend you read his full study):
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This analysis. boys and girls, shows that the Rogers Centre might be the absolute worst place to play for the Kansas City Royals. Despite Toronto’s hit-suppressing turf, overall the Rogers Centre plays as an extremely offense-friendly park. It’s park factor, a metric used to measure a stadium’s scoring tendencies, is +113 (13% above an major-league average).
Dig deeper into the park factor numbers, and you’ll find that teams will score 107 runs in Toronto for every 100 runs in an “average” park, meanwhile the Rogers Centre will surrender 119 home runs for every 100 home runs in the “average” MLB venue.
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Thus we see that Toronto plays offense-friendly due to its propensity to give up home runs. No wonder Toronto general manager Alex Anthopolous built a team that is tied with the Astros for the most home runs in major-league baseball.
On the other hand, the KC Royals are famous for their contact-hitting offense which depends on putting the ball in play. The Kansas City Royals strikeout less than any team in baseball with a 15.2% strikeout rate, but also have hit the fewest home runs in the American League.
To make matters worse, KC Royals starters such as Edinson Volquez and Danny Duffy have adopted a pitch-t0-contact approach that utilizes outstanding team defense. Now, the Kansas City Royals has a bullpen full of fire-balling relievers that can miss bats. Yet, overall, the Rogers Centre is bad for BOTH the KC Royals offense and pitching staff.
Add in the fact that Toronto enjoys the best second half record in baseball to their major-league leading run differential of +190 (far ahead of second place St. Louis at +122), and you have a place likely to become a burial ground for the KC Royals 2015 title hopes.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE THAT THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS WIN HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE IN ANY PLAYOFF SERIES AGAINST THE BLUE JAYS.