Posted by Andy on August 30, 2010
When the Red Sox signed John Lackey as a free agent, I was among many folks who criticized the move, citing Lackey's historical performance in Fenway Park. His numbers so far this year among his career worst, in particular his 95 ERA+. Are his difficulties this year due to Fenway Park? Let's investigate.
Let's start right away with Lackey's home/road splits so far this season:
Interestingly, his ERA is identical in 14 home games and 13 away games. In fact, all of his meaningful numbers are very similar. OPS of .792 at home and .790 on the road is essentially identical.
The only number that's quite different are his wins and losses. Despite essentially identical performances from Lackey at home and on the road, his home record is 9-3 and his road record is 3-5. This is a truly great indicator of how little W-L record means for individual pitchers, especially without context.
Without looking in detail, however, I suspect these numbers show that Lackey has actually pitched much better at home. Fenway Park is a strong hitter's park (106 batting factor) and thus Lackey posting the same numbers there as he has elsewhere means he has pitched a lot better there. The Red Sox undoubtedly scored more runs in his home starts, leading to a better W-L record for Lackey.
So, I don't think it's fair to blame Fenway Park on Lackey's disappointing season.
Historically, Lackey has pitched slightly better at home than on the road. So this year, it would seem that he's just not as good as past years, regardless of which mound he's standing on. For what it's worth, his hits allowed and walks allowed are up, and his strikeouts are down.