Milwaukee Brewers: Travis Shaw Will Add Power in Miller Park

Milwaukee Brewers’ GM David Stearns saw value in Travis Shaw’s power potential in Miller Park.

One of the beautiful nuances of baseball is the impact each stadium has on performance. The Milwaukee Brewers are banking on this impact with Travis Shaw, acquired in a trade for Tyler Thornburg.

Unlike other major sports where dimensions of the playing surface are the same, baseball allows for unique advantages. Clubs are wise to often cater their talent to the home surroundings to gain an edge in those 81 contests.

Shaw, the Brewers’ new third baseman, hit the jackpot in this respect. Moving from the Boston Red Sox and venerable Fenway Park to cozy Miller Park sets him up for a home run barrage.

Shaw had 34 doubles last season to go with 16 homers in 145 games. Solid totals, but some may frown at the .306 OBP, .421 slugging, and .726 OPS.

Heading west may be exactly what he needs to “discover” his full potential.

Despite David Ortiz’s success there, Fenway ranks as the second-worst home run park for lefties. Only the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park is tougher.

Meanwhile, Miller Park is rated as the absolute best place for left-handers to hit dingers. Yankee Stadium, with its short porch in right, is second.

One measurement, which has 1.00 as average, puts the Brewers’ home at a 1.55 for lefties. Fenway Park has a 0.69 mark – close to a full point worse.

So where do these long balls magically come from?

With a huge area to cover from the right field line to center field, Fenway is by far the best place for lefties to collect doubles. Directly down the line in right is only 302 feet to Pesky’s Pole, but it immediately gets deep.

Right-center field is officially listed as 380, a big jump from the line. Much of right field and gap is around this distance and longer.

Milwaukee Brewers Travis Shaw

Milwaukee Brewers Travis Shaw had 34 doubles and 16 HR last year. Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Then you have deep right-center, with its funky layout, pushing the wall to 420 feet. A cavernous hole that kills home runs, but favors doubles.

Many of those two-baggers in Boston will be upgraded to round-trippers in Milwaukee.

Right field and some of the gap is a comfortable 345 feet at Miller Park. However, since adding a fenced in section for fans in right, it has played much smaller.

Plus, there’s a more casual, reasonable path to center as it stretches to 400 feet from home. Those dimensions alone could add five or six home runs to his total.

According to his spray chart from 2016, there were around 15-20 fly balls that were outs or doubles in Fenway. In Miller Park, those have legitimate chances of being additional hits or home runs.

Also keep in mind, Miller Park has favorable conditions. There’s no rain or frigid temperatures to deal with like in Boston. That could be a factor in his early and late-season numbers with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Plus, in the summer, there are typically fantastic jet streams flowing out through the open panels.

This isn’t to say he’s suddenly going to be a 30-homer hitter, but he could flirt if he continues to develop.

Shaw may see a small dip in his doubles, but overall, home runs and hits in general are nearly guaranteed to rise. That should boost his overall stat line, ideally across the .800 OPS mark.

Maybe it’s too optimistic, but here are some early predictions for Shaw’s 2017: 31 doubles, 26 home runs, .322 OBP, .486 slugging, .808 OPS.