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Fun with Park Splits: Maikel Franco and Nolan Arenado

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What if Maikel Franco had spent his early career at Coors Field?

Houston Astros v Colorado Rockies
Coors or Citizens Bank Park? Who knows?
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

In the comments of Justin’s third base preview today the subject of Nolan Arenado came up, followed closely (as usual) by his home-away splits.

To which I half-kiddingly showed these stats:

Arenado at Coors…… .984 OPS
Franco at Coors…….. .983 OPS

Arenado on the road… .787 OPS
Franco on the road….. .757 OPS

This highlights Arenado’s huge home-away differential, the reason some wonder how well he would do if he signed somewhere else as a free agent (including Philadelphia).

There are problems with this comparison obviously. Maikel Franco’s sample at Coors is tiny (47 PAs). And Franco’s road stats include the Coors sample from above. You can probably find others as well.

But what if we took this idea a step further? What if Franco had played his career to date in the same parks as Arenado, and in exactly the same proportions (e.g. 50.9% of his PAs at Coors, only 2.0% at Citizens Bank Park, and so on). If we assume his performance on a per-PA basis at each park didn’t change (e.g. that .983 OPS at Coors), what would his career stats look like?

Before we do that, below are Franco’s and Arenado’s actual career stats to date:

Arenado...... .291/.346/.539 (.886 OPS)
Franco......... .252/.303/.435 (.738 OPS)

There’s really no comparison there. Arenado is a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, recognized as one of the best players in MLB. Franco got off to a promising start in 2015, but has struggled mightily since then, finally showing some life late last year which may be a sign of figuring things out, or perhaps as likely, a “dead cat bounce”.

So what would Franco’s career stats look like in the scenario described above, using his actual rate stats in each park, but stretching or shrinking them to match Arenado’s playing time by park.

For reference:

The results:

Franco (in Arenado’s parks).... .300/.341/.509 (.850 OPS)

The biggest driver here is Franco’s .983 OPS in his scant 47 PAs at Coors. The above exercise assumes that he maintain that across all of his home games.

I also did the math for Arenado’s stats using the same PA’s by park proportionately as Franco, but I won’t show those. Arenado has struggled in his 72 PAs at CBP, and extrapolating his stats there (including a .585 OPS) to about half of his career stats make for a pretty horrendous projection.

Does this mean that Franco would be an All-Star if he had been playing for the Rockies since coming up, or that Arenado wouldn’t be an All-Star if he didn’t play half his games in Coors?

Most likely, no. But it’s safe to say they’d both be viewed differently than they currently are.