Trevor Story will no longer be calling Coors Field home after signing his new six-year, $140 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. As we all know, Coors Field has been the most hitter-friendly ballpark since it opened up on April 26th, 1995. Story was the last domino to fall from the star-studded shortstop class this off-season. While a lot has been made of the thin air’s impact on both hitters, and pitchers, we’re now left wondering, “How will Trevor Story’s game translate now that he will no longer benefit from playing half of his games in Denver?”
The Rockies selected Story in 2011 as a compensatory pick and was the benefactor of the blockbuster trade that sent Troy Tulowitski to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015.
Story made his debut for Colorado back in 2016 in style. In his Major League debut, he got his first hit by hitting an opposite-field, three-run, home run off of D-backs ace Zack Greinke in a 10-5 Rockies win at Chase Field. He proceeded to hit another home run in his next at-bat to become the first player in Major League history to hit two home runs while making his debut on Opening Day.
He then hit four home runs over the next three games to set an MLB record with seven round-trippers through his team’s first six games of the season.
Story has been a productive player in his career. In 745 career games, he has a .272/.340/.523 slash line. Accumulating 158 home runs, 450 RBIs, and a .251 ISO to go with his career 21.6 WAR and 112 wRC+. His 158 career home runs are also the second-most by a shortstop in their first six seasons in Major League history, only trailing Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.
He was excellent at Coors Field during his career. Slashing .303/.369/.972 with 95 home runs, 279 RBI, and a .354 BABIP in 1,592 plate appearances. As you could expect, the road numbers were not as glorious. Those numbers dipped to .241/.310/.752, 63 home runs, 171 RBI, and a .317 BABPI in 1,544 plate appearances. That leaves a lot to wonder going forward now that he will no longer be playing half of his games in Coors.
Despite the massive disparity in his home-road splits, he still ranked above average in average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, xSLUG, and barrel percentage. His career slugging percentage at Coors was .835, his hard-hit percentage was 45%, and a wRC+ of 200. On the road, it was a .673 slugging%, 39% hard-hit%, and a 145 wRC+. As recently as 2018, he has ranked top-10 in hard-hit% and continued to stay in the top half of those rankings with a 42.6% HH%, ranking him in the 62nd percentile. The spray chart below will show you that he can spray the ball to all fields, but the power shows predominantly towards left and left-center, field.
Another thing of note is that Fenway Park is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. According to Baseball Savant, Fenway had the second-highest “park factor” in the league. It was home of the second-greatest percentage increase in runs scored for players that played there, compared to other ballparks across the league. The one number that was lower than the others were home runs, due to the famous Green Monster in left field. The number of doubles is what spikes with the amount of batted balls off of the Monster.
If we were to look back to 2019, Baseball Savant projects that Story would have hit more home runs at Fenway than at Coors (42 at Fenway vs. 35 at Coors). Also note that, in 2021, Story would have hit an expected 38 at Fenway than the 24 that he hit at Coors. Fenway has a history of boosting hitter’s BABIPs thanks to all of the ball hit off of the Green Monster, and all of the open space in right-center field. In a study done by FanGraphs in 2018, any baseball hit with a launch angle of 30 degrees, or more, plus an exit velocity of 95+ mph, would clear the Monster. Out of the 34 balls that Story hit last season, fitting that criteria, he pulled 13 of them.
Mike Petriello, from MLB.com, also did a study that showed players’ road stats, typically, improved once they left Colorado. There was even a balancing of their splits over this time as well. He attributed this to the players accommodating themselves better in the more conventional, and consistent, conditions.
Since Story’s debut in 2016, the Rockies have been the highest-scoring team in the majors, at home, where they own a major-league best .360 wOBA, per FanGraphs. In that time, they have also scored the second-fewest runs on the road, and sport a major-league low .292 wOBA. The Coors effect has long been a concern for other star players that have left Colorado. Matt Holiday, DJ LeMahieu (slashing .307/.370/.461 in three years with New York), and Nolan Arenado (.255/.312/.494 and 34 home runs in his first year with St. Louis) have been the most recent to continue producing at All-Star levels, leaving no doubt that good hitters can perform anywhere.
Do the Sox Fit?
The Red Sox felt the need to keep up with the flurry of moves going through the AL East. The splash signing of Story, and committing to him for, at least, six years, shows that they are 1) looking to solidify their lineup or 2) providing them insurance just in case Xander Bogaerts decides to opt-out at seasons end. Many expect Bogaerts to exercise that opt-out, and force the Red Sox hand to offer him a new deal. Either way, there is much excitement in the Red Sox fanbase after they saw Chaim Bloom pull the trigger on this big-money signing, something he has not been known to do.
The former first-round pick out of Texas has always been able to perform well, dating back to his progression through the Minor Leagues and his quick accession through it. Another benefit to the Story addition is the speed he will likely add to a lineup that has, certainly, lacked it. Although sprint speed is not a direct indicator in predicting stolen bases, he did rank in the 89th percentile last season. As previously mentioned, his bat should, seemingly, transfer gracefully over to his new home ballpark. Story will be able to play pepper the Green Monster in left field, leading to an increase in doubles and, possibly, leading him to a new career-high that currently sits at 42 back in 2018.
Defensively, all reports have mentioned that Story has agreed to play second base for the Red Sox, contrary to those previously stated, saying that he was not willing to move off of shortstop. The move to second base could benefit Story this season after missing time last season with an elbow injury and leaving many wondering how his arm strength will be impacted by it going forward.
Based on all of the data collected, it seems as if Trevor Story’s all-around game will translate nicely in his new home.
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)