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Minute Maid Park
by Ben Burns - 04/20/2009
Each week Vegas Expert Ben Burns examines MLB parks from a bettors' perspective. This week, he breaks down Minute Maid Park.
Houstonâ€™s Minute Maid Park, originally named Enron Field, has bankrupted its fair share of over players.
The Astrosâ€™ home park opened in 2000 with a hitter-friendly reputation.
Featuring an enticingly short 315-foot left field, very little foul territory, a retractable roof and quirky center-field hill, it earned the nickname the â€œJuice Box.â€쳌
Oddsmakers responded by consistently setting double-digit totals. The 11.19 average total wasnâ€™t high enough, though.
In 2000, Astros games soared over the total to a 46-33-2 mark. Houston led all of baseball with 135 home runs at its home park that year.
But the surplus of Minute Maid overs, home runs and double-digit totals ended quickly.
In 2001, Minute Maid produced a 33-45 over/under ratio.
Other than that high-scoring first year, there has been only one other year in which Minute Maid produced more overs than unders (38-36 in 2006).
Heading into this season, Minute Maidâ€™s over/under mark is 328-376. Five of the first six Astros games have stayed under this year.
The average total for Minute Maid games dropped all the way to 8.19 in 2006.
Totals on average were back over nine last season (9.10).
The Astrosâ€™ power numbers have decreased, too. They havenâ€™t hit more than 100 at Minute Maid since their first season at Juice Box.
2005 World Series Controversy
The Astros prefer to have the roof closed. The crowd becomes louder and pitchers swear the ball doesnâ€™t carry as far.
Thatâ€™s why Houston was disappointed to see MLB rule to keep the roof open for Game 3 of the of the 2005 World against the White Sox.
Game-time temperatures were expected to be in the low 60s and drop into the 40s overnight for the late October game.
The Astros felt the nighttime lows would make fans uncomfortable. But the rules stipulate that the Minute Maid roof will be closed when game-time temperature is 80 degrees or higher, and open when below 80 degrees.
"They play the All-Star Game and they claim itâ€™s important because the winner gets home-field advantage at the World Series," Houston catcher Brad Ausmus told MLB.com before the game. "Well, this is part of our home-field advantage and for Major League Baseball to try and take it away is either A. Ridiculous, or B. They're American League fans."
With the roof open, the White Sox out-clubbed Roy Oswalt and the Astros 7-5.
Pitcher to bet on at Minute Maid
Roy Oswalt: Heâ€™s 72-22 at Minute Maid, with an ERA of less than three.
Heâ€™s particularly deadly in the hot days of August and September, when the retractable roof is often closed to keep out the Houston heat.
Oswalt is 20-4 in August and September with a 2.16 ERA.
This weekâ€™s games
Monday: vs. Cincinnati
Tuesday-Thursday: vs. Dodgers â€“ Randy Wolf is 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA at Minute Maid the past three seasons; Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal is a career .091 hitter at Minute Maid Park.
Friday-Sunday: vs. Milwaukee â€“ Brewer starter Jeff Suppan has a 6.35 ERA at Minute Maid Park in the past three years; First baseman Prince Fielder is a .316 hitter at Minute Maid, with six home runs.