Saturday, January 16, 2010

S. Hairston / Kouzmanoff

A deal which will send Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland for Scott Hairston and several other minor leaguers has not yet been made official but is reportedly only awaiting players passing their physicals.

The Hairston part of the deal is the element I'm least sure about in terms of the impact on a player forecast.  Hairston had been expected to be a regular player in the Oakland outfield and now back with the Padres, Chase Headley remains the clear left fielder.  Still, San Diego wouldn't have made this deal if they didn't expect to use Hairston on a regular basis and I fully expect that Hairston still has a regular spot in the lineup, not yet confirmed but likely in center field.

Assuming that Hairston still heads into 2010 with that clear shot at regular playing time, the biggest impact of the deal is what the change in home parks does to each player's performance.  San Diego, as many readers know, is one of the best pitching parks in baseball and Oakland, while still favorable to pitchers, is much closer to being neutral than PETCO.  However, the gut reaction that this automatically boosts Kouzmanoff's forecast across the board and lowers Hairston's might not be entirely correct.

Even with PETCO clearly being a better pitcher's park than Oakland the past several years, there is an exception and that is that McAfee Coliseum in Oakland has actually been harder to homer in, if you're right-handed, than PETCO Park in San Diego.  From 2007-09, this according to Baseball Info Solutions, the home run effect for right-handed hitters in Oakland has been 77%.  That's saying, roughly, that a right-handed hitter in the long run would homer at about 77% of the rate he would in Oakland as he would in a neutral park.  In San Diego, the park effect for right-handed home runs the past three years has been about 86%.

Of course, home runs represent a small portion of even the best power hitter's total hits and there will be a rise in projected batting average for Kouzmanoff and a drop in projected batting average for Hairston.  So, even with Kouzmanoff losing perhaps a projected home run and Hairston gaining one, Kouzmanoff's overall forecast is the one that's more likely to improve from the deal, probably to the tune of about 5-10 points in batting average and some extra runs scored and RBI as a result of that.  The reverse will apply to Hairston.