The Legends Field Factor

Tyler Clippard was 8-1with a 2.42 ERA at Legends

Since it opened, Legends Field in Tampa has been a haven for pitching prospects and graveyard for hitting prospects. That theory once again proved to be true here in 2005. We took a look at some of the pitchers who have flourished and the hitters who have suffered as a result of the Legends Field factor.

The mere fact that Yankee prospects play in the vast expanse of Legends Field, a pitcher's park as far as the minors is concerned, completely alters the way we look at these players. Making pitchers look better as long drives die on the warning track and making even the best hitters look more feeble when drives to the gap fall into outfielders' gloves, Legends Field is a major factor to be considered when it comes to Yankee prospects.

Legends Field Beneficiaries

Heath Castle - At first glance, one might say that Heath Castle is having a stellar season. However, when you look closer, you might think twice. Whether it is due to the large dimensions in the outfield or the lack of pressure considering the small crowds, the southpaw undoubtedly enjoys more success pitching in Tampa. At Legends, Heath posted a 1.31 ERA. On the flip side, he got lit up to the tune of a 4.31 ERA on the road. Coincidence? Maybe not.

Paul Thorp - Up until about a month ago, Paul Thorp had pretty gaudy numbers as the closer for the Tampa Yankees. He struggled as the season came to a close, but the numbers show that throughout the 2005 season, he was pummeled while away from Legends Field. Despite posting a sparkling 2.54 ERA at home, Thorp turned in a bloated 6.30 ERA on the road. Opposing batters hit 49 points higher against him while on the road and hit 3 more home runs. So, it makes you wonder if the real Paul Thorp was the one we saw on road or at home.

Tyler Clippard - Even one of the most outstanding Yankee pitching prospects seemed to take advantage of the vast Legends Field outfield. While there was not a huge difference in performance for him, it was noticeable nonetheless. At Legends Field, Clippard was dynamite, pitching to the tune of a 2.42 ERA and posting a record of 8-1. In addition, opposing hitters batted only .185 off T-Clip at his home park. But, on the road, the tall righty seemed to be a somewhat different pitcher.

On the road, lineups were far more successful, hitting a respectable .255 off the Florida native. It is also worth noting is that Clippard posted a 2-8 record and a 4.02 ERA on the road. Being a distinct fly ball pitcher, this is perhaps one area of concern for one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects. One has to wonder, are some deep drives dying in the vast Tampa Yankee outfield? It is certainly something to consider.

Marvin Moscat - Once again, Marvin Moscat has outstanding numbers out of the bullpen at first glance. But, the disparity between his performance at home and on the road is staggering. At Legends, Marvin posted a fantastic 2.28 ERA while holding opponents to a .250 batting average. However, on the road, he is far more human. To go along with a 4.06 ERA, hitters lit up Moscat for a .303 batting average. Alarming stat: Moscat did not allow a home run at Legends Field in 2005, but allowed 4 long balls pitching on the road.

Jason Jones - Overall, 2005 was a dismal campaign for the Yankees' former 4th round pick. But, it wasn't quite as dismal while pitching at Legends Field. Most of his bad outings came on the road. He posted a respectable 4.07 ERA at Legends Field whiling getting pounded on the road, putting up a putrid 7.40 ERA in visitors' ballparks. Also, opponents hit 36 points higher against him on the road.

Jorge Morales - Morales did not pitch a lot of innings for Tampa so he may not be as good a sample as the pitchers listed above. However, the results are quite evident, nonetheless. He has simply pitched better at (once again) Legends Field. His road ERA is a bloated 6.00 on the road and a dominating 0.93 ERA at home.

Legends Field Victims

Cody Ehlers - For Cody Ehlers, the 2005 season has been a success, except for one portion. That portion of the season happened to be all of his home games while playing for the Tampa Yankees. In approximately the same amount of at bats, Ehlers was a far more effective on the road. Despite hitting a strong .279 on the road, Ehlers hit only .197 at home. This is a hitter that has performed well everywhere else and the fact that he struggled in Legends Field doesn't seem coincidental.

John Urick - As a lefty hitter, his power numbers have not been effected quite so much with the short porch in right field at Legends. However, his all around production as a hitter has suffered greatly there. On the road, the lefty swinging first baseman hit a respectable .261. But, as you may have guessed, he struggled mightily in his home ballpark, hitting only .213. This is yet another Yankee hitting prospect who came off a strong 2004 campaign but struggled with Tampa.

Rudy Guillen - A Yankee prospect who was projected to put up big numbers seems to have been eaten alive by the monstrous lefty field in Legends Field. At 399 feet in the left field gap, Guillen has had many home runs swallowed up in death valley. In fact he went without a long ball there all season. Al six of his homers came on the road.

Grant Plumley - Although Grant Plumley isn't known as a true offensive prospect, the difference in his offensive production between home and away is perhaps the most astounding. On the road, Plumley was as good as anyone, hitting .333. But, it wasn't home sweet home for the slick fielding shortstop. In Tampa, Plumley hit a lowly .154. A number like that is almost inexplicable, but it may just prove the point that, for the majority of young hitters, Legends Field is truly a death trap.

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