Trevor Story benefited from playing half of his baseball games at Coors Field, but now that he has a new home, he has to deal with the same question that dogged ex-Rockies before him: Can he have the same production outside Colorado?
The thin air paired with hitter-friendly Coors has helped produced comical offensive numbers for Rockies and opponents alike in the nearly 30 years Colorado has had a franchise. Now, as Story reportedly heads to the Boston Red Sox, he’ll become the latest to fight the narrative that his production to this point has been a byproduct of his home field.
On the surface, it’s certainly fair to wonder whether Story will put up the same numbers moving forward. His home-road splits are quite dramatic, even by Colorado’s well-defined standards.
At first glance, it’s not pretty. That’s a 40-home run pace per 162 games at Coors and “only” 28 dingers per year on the road. It probably should go without saying that 28 home runs, decent run production, solid base-running and good infield defense is still quite valuable, but people are sometimes dumb.
The important thing to remember with Story going to Boston, though, is he now gets to play at Fenway Park. It’s not like Story is going from Colorado to a pitcher-friendly stadium like we see in San Francisco or Oakland or Detroit. Fenway is still a hitters park, and Story will get a chance to take aim at the Green Monster on a regular basis. By MLB park factors, Fenway obviously isn’t as friendly as Coors, but what Story might lose in home runs, he should make up for in doubles or even triples. He’ll be playing in an even better lineup, too, so it stands to reason he should see an uptick in run production even if he’s not socking as many dingers.
There’s also this: If Story continues to hit the ball as he has in the past — high, hard and more often than not to the pull-side — he should continue to put up impressive offensive numbers. Just look at this image from Baseball Savant, layering all of Story’s 2021 non-home run batted balls over Fenway Park.
In the interest of fairness, here’s his spray chart of home runs; there’s maybe one or two, at the most, that wouldn’t leave the park at Fenway.
Again, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some would-be home runs turn into doubles or even singles off the tin. But not to get too into the weeds, Fangraphs did a study a few years back looking at the physics of balls hit to left field in Boston. One of the key takeaways, and this isn’t the only way to look at it, but any ball hit with a launch angle of 30 degrees or higher plus a 95 mph exit velocity should clear the Monster. For what it’s worth, Story hit 34 balls in play matching that criteria, pulling 13 of them.
Ultimately, what does that really mean? It’s hard to say. There are so many elements to consider, but it sure doesn’t look like Story would completely flounder outside of Coors Field. It’s also worth mentioning St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado hit 34 home runs with an .807 OPS in his first season away from Colorado. He’s a good player who does good things no matter where he plays.
The Red Sox are banking on similar results from Story.