Yesterday, I let loose some easy CW about the Matt Holliday trade, noting that over the course of his career, he has been helped greatly by Coors Field, and that the A's are probably making a mistake picking him up.
In the comments, reader J. Kuhner noted that I was being too hard on Holliday, in that his road OPS over the past three seasons compared pretty nicely with some good left fielder's overall OPS. That's fair, but even so, trading for what amounts to be the sixth or seventh best leftfielder in the game and paying him that salary isn't exactly a masterstroke. Though I didn't write about it and ultimately didn't change my mind, I took J. Kuhner's point on that, mentally eased up on my criticism of the A's a tad.
Today, however, reader scatterbrain points me to Dave Cameron's analysis at FanGraphs, which pretty much puts me in my place:
His detractors will instantly point to his enormous career splits between his performance at home and on the road - .357/.423/.645 in Coors, .280/.348/.455 everywhere else. He has almost twice as many home runs in Colorado as he does away from the thin air, and given what we know about park effects and the offensive environment a mile high, we shouldn’t be surprised that Holliday has benefited significantly from his home environment.Damn fine point you have there, David. Fine enough to where I hereby retract my lazy park-effects-driven criticism of the deal.
However, when you see people pointing to his road numbers as a proxy for his true talent level, you should immediately reject the rest of their conclusions, because despite the ease of that kind of analysis, it simply isn’t accurate. You cannot just throw out Holliday’s performance in Colorado and pretend that it didn’t happen simply because the park is hitter friendly. Instead, the correct way to project his future performance is to adjust his past results to account for the park effects, and use the entire sample of data that we have . . .
[mathy stuff deleted]
. . . Even with the move out of Coors Field and into pitcher friendly Oakland Coliseum, Holiday should be expected to be something like a .300/.380/.500 hitter. Considering he’s been both durable and a quality defensive outfielder, that makes him something like a +4 win player for 2009.
Does it still make a good deal for the A's? Maybe, maybe not. But if it is to be criticized, park effects don't seem like a valid point of attack.