It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that Tropicana Field is the opposite of a hitter's haven. And if you watch any number of games in person or on television then you can easily make the observation that it plays as a pitcher's park and right-handed power seems to be non-existent. But there are a few guys who actually prefer hitting at the Trop this year and the funny thing is that they are the local boys.
All-Star outfielder Matt Joyce is hitting .283/.345/.501 on the regular season but his home/road splits look like Jim Rice’s who hit in a major hitter’s park. Joyce is hitting .316/.362/.525 at home compared to .247/.328/.476 away. He is still a good hitter away with a 124 wRC+ but he has a 142 wRC+ at home.
Casey Kotchman, like Joyce, is having a fine overall season hitting .337/.398/.471 but prefers the trop to the road. The Magic comes out more in the dungeon known as Tropicana Field, hitting .352/.431/.527 with a ridiculous 169 wRC+. But it’s not as if he were doing bad on the road with a .318/.367/.422 line and a 119 wRC+. His BABIP is roughly the same with a .369 clip at home and a .366 clip on the road. Oh, and 6 of his 7 homeruns are at the trop.
The only other player with at least 50 plate appearances that is hitting better at home is The Legend, Sam Fuld, who is hitting .262/.312/.400 as opposed to .225/.305/.341 away. Oddly enough, though, his 95 wRC+ suggests he’s a better hitter away than his 92 wRC+ at the Trop. So it still stands as just the local boys hitting better at home.
The drop off for next best hitter at the trop is ridiculous. If you are a batting average guy then Johnny Damon’s .229 average is next best. Ouch! If you are a wRC+ guy then Zobrist is next with a respectable 112 and then Evan Longoria with an 88 wRC+. Take a look at some of the home triple-slash an marks (Warning, they may make you sick to your stomach):
Longoria: Home .204/.297/.383 Road .256/.360/.519
Damon: Home .229/.277/.322 Road .294/.356/.450
Zobrist: Home .215/.339/.405 Road .335/.402/.578
Upton: Home .185/.264/.339 Road .269/.352/.463
Rodriguez: Home .190/.258/.339 Road .228/.333/.359
Shoppach: Home .136/.240/.227 Road .200/.280/.333
I just do not understand the major split in performance. Yes, Shoppach still sucks but it still proves the point. Only two players who play in some sort of regular rotation seem to excel at the Trop while not a single other player has a line that looks halfway respectable outside of maybe Ben Zobrist.
Does playing in front of family and friends make you better? I highly doubt it but I guess it could be possible, but it is still no reason as to why the rest of the team wishes it could touch Kevin Stocker's career .221/.319/.308 line at the Trop.