Baseball Judgments

Baseball Judgments |
Subjective statistical ballpark rankings


By Roger Weber


In 2005 for the initial project on the site that is now, I did a statistical study using the least biased or subjective methods as possible. Obviously with any method of ranking ballparks there was subjectivity involved, so the rankings are not altogether conclusive and reflect to a great extent my opinion, if not about simply ballparks, but at least about what criteria define a great ballpark.


To read the full study, visit


But the following is a quick summarization of the study.


The criteria are divided into seven categories: History, setting, aesthetics, fans, and amenities, scoreboard and concessions. The final three are grouped together for some purposes since they all measure the comfort and modernity of a ballpark. Each of these categories is divided among several subcategories.


The average age of current MLB teams is 75 years. But the average age of the ballparks is just 20. Because designers strive to keep historic touches in new parks, history counts 25/75 of the combined comfort, concessions and scoreboard.


To many fans, this may seem too little weight on history. History is also measured through other weights. For example, a scoreboard receives extra weight if it has a place where historical facts can be placed.


This rating system is based greatly on what parks are enjoyable to attend many times during a season. As is shown in the example used earlier about sitting behind a pole or sitting in a padded seat, comfort can be worth more than history after many visits to a park. Fans also forget that history can be formed as well as relived. Many new parks were necessary constructions. Safety, one component not measured in this study, is paramount to any element of a park. Still, the history of a park like Fenway Park cannot be ignored.


The split between comfort, concessions and scoreboard is fairly arbitrary.


To get these weights, the details used go beyond what is completely logical, but to find a suitable weight, some reasonable approximation of times must be used.


Fans usually focus on a park's aesthetics during the two and a half minutes between innings (2:30 is the time ESPN and FOX set between innings for commercials, etc.). Multiplying this time times inning breaks, a fitting proportion is used.  


The average commute for a fan to a game is about 27 or 28 minutes given an average distance from the park to the center of a city is about 4.17 miles. Using data about average game length from the Elias Sports Bureau, the ratio of commute time to game time is 55:167. This is the total factored into the location weight.


Fans cannot be measured or compared by the same standards. Some fans enjoy lively atmospheres. Others like the ability to spread out. Some fans spend more time with friends at the game than others. This is one set of criteria that beyond attendance figures can only be measured subjectively. Therefore, it has only a relatively small weight. 


Compiled into percentage values, the weights are as follows:


Category     Percent

History: 15.1

Comfort/Amenities: 18.1

Concessions: 13.6

Scoreboard: 13.6

Location/View: 19.6

Aesthetics: 12.7

Fans: 7.5


In this summarization I have skipped the statistical analysis portions of the study. Again, you may view all those calculations at






Here are the results organized by score for each section.



1. Philadelphia

2. Cleveland

3. Pittsburgh

4. San Francisco

5. Detroit

6. St. Louis

7. San Diego

8. Seattle

Worst: N.Y. Mets



1. Boston

2. N.Y. Yankees

3. Chicago Cubs

4. L.A. Dodgers

5. Oakland

6. N.Y. Mets

7. L.A. Angels

8. Minnesota

Worst: St. Louis


1. St. Louis

2. San Francisco

3. N.Y. Yankees

4. L.A. Dodgers

5. Chicago Cubs

6. San Diego

7. Seattle

8. Milwaukee

9. Boston

Worst: Tampa Bay


1. Colorado

2. Boston

3. Baltimore

4. Chicago Cubs

4. San Francisco

6. Chicago W.S.

Worst: Washington


1. Cincinnati

1. Cleveland

1. Houston

Worst: Minnesota



1. San Francisco

2. Pittsburgh

3. L.A. Dodgers

4. Cincinnati

Worst: Florida



1. Chicago Cubs

2. Cleveland

3. Pittsburgh

4. L.A. Dodgers

4. Philadelphia

Worst: Atlanta



Final rankings

1.         Jacobs Field

2.         SBC Park

3.         PNC Park

4.         Camden Yards

5.         Wrigley Field

6.         Minute Maid Park

7.         The Great American Bpk.

8.         Angels Field

9.         Coors Field

10.       Petco Park

11.       Chase Field

12.       Fenway Park

13.       Citizens Bank Park

14.       Comerica Park

15.       Dodger Stadium

16.       U.S. Cellular Field

17.       Safeco Field

18.       Ameriquest Field

19.       Miller Park

20.       New Busch Stadium

21.       Kauffman Stadium

22.       Turner Field

23.       Ntwk. Associates Col.

24.       Yankee Stadium

25.       Shea Stadium

26.       RFK Stadium

27.       Dolphins Stadium

28.       Tropicana Field

29.       Rogers Centre

30.       H.H.H. Metrodome


Jacobs Field is the technical victor. But its rating, of about 3.82, is just slightly more than one hundredth of a point higher than that of SBC Park, which finished second. This result is essentially a toss up. 


An even smaller margin separates Petco Park and Chase Field. Again, this margin could easily be eliminated by changing any one statistic even slightly, so not much weight should be put into differences between parks one or two places apart.


Certain parks' rankings can be disputed. Yankee Stadium is counted as 30 years old, which it is. But the ground on which the stadium sits was once the grounds on which Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle played. For many fans, the fact that the park sits on that piece of land counts greatly. 


The Great American Ballpark is often cited as one of the poorer new parks, but many people who criticize it might not grasp the historical touches. It takes a while to warm up to the choppy seating bowl. For a purist, though, this park has the best scoreboard in the game, and one of the best locations. It was only completed in 2005, so fans who visited it in its first or second year should come back for a second look. 


The Ballpark in Arlington landed surprisingly low on the list. It isn't a bad park. There are too many really terrific parks now. Because Texas' stadium has a relatively shut off view and a less than stellar scoreboard, its rating dropped. It is still a wonderful park.


Some might also argue that certain pieces of the rankings should be eliminated. Some may argue that a park is not defined by its fans. Wrigley Field, though, for example, is greatly defined by the character of the people in the stands. Others may argue that location should be eliminated because a physical piece of architecture should not be defined by where it sits. But part of architecture is integrating buildings with their surroundings. PNC Park would not be so unique if it did not have a view of a skyline and river.


There is no perfect way to rank ballparks. So much of what makes a good park depends on what one personally feels makes a ballpark great. These rankings do not take into account many descriptors of beauty. Beauty is perhaps the most important quality of a park.


The rankings here also are based on my calculations of what fans feel to be important in a stadium. Individual fans have other opinions.


There isn't a bad ballpark in the major leagues. There are only a couple stadia that are less than enjoyable places to spend an evening. All house the game of baseball, so it is difficult for a baseball fan not to like any single park.  


This report is a basic numerical counting of elements that baseball fans look for on a trip to the ballpark. It is not a perfect determination of the best ballpark. That can only be determined by oneself and his opinions. But baseball is our national pastime. Its cathedrals should be the epitome of America's finest construction.


Click here to read about the top five 


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