Buck the Trends: Park factors and the KC Royals

A new contributor's debut introduces a new series to Kings of Kauffman.

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Let’s talk first about Kauffman Stadium

Kauffman Stadium is one of the oldest ballparks in the majors. Although there are currently ongoing talks about building a new stadium, we're probably still close to a decade away from moving out of The K, so any planning done by the current Kansas City front office is likely to be done knowing the Royals will be playing at Kauffman for the foreseeable future. 

What makes Kauffman Stadium unique? It's 410 feet to centerfield and 330 feet to each of the outfield corners and is the only symmetrical big league ballpark because there are no cut-ins or odd-shaped outfield walls. While it doesn't have the deepest center field, it does have the deepest corners and, because it's symmetrical, has the biggest major league power alleys.

A power alley is the area of the ballpark where a power-hitter will likely hit a baseball with the most power. This is the area of the outfield between right and center and left and center. These large power alleys contribute to high hit totals in Kauffman Stadium.  

Kauffman is, of course, an outdoor ballpark and, as any Kansan or Missourian knows, there is a lot of west wind in the area. Due to its orientation at the Truman Sports Complex, left field is positioned so that righthanded pull hitters swing predominantly into the wind. Although it is easier to hit home runs to right field vs. left, the Kauffman wind tends to knock balls down even to right field. Their park gives the Royals an advantage by naturally minimizing home runs. 

The home run and power alley factors make Kauffman extremely unique — it's generally pitcher-friendly, but the power alleys help teams that can put the ball in play.  The K generally produces among the most hits in the majors, but just as typically doesn't yield a lot of home runs.

How can we interpret all that?