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A’s Announce Move To Triple-A Sacramento: Here’s What To Expect

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 31: A general overall aerial view of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 31, 2023 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)

The Athletics’ quest to move out of Oakland and relocate to Las Vegas in time for the 2028 season has taken another turn.

With their lease expiring at the Oakland Coliseum after this season, the A’s reached an agreement with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats to play home games at the latter’s Sutter Health Park for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons. There is an option for a fourth season.

While the A’s retain some sense of continuity by moving 85 miles inland and to a city with a similar population, myriad questions surround the facility standards of Sacramento’s 14,000-capacity park. Issues with clubhouses, training rooms and ballpark lighting—which are all calibrated to Triple-A standards—must be resolved before next season.

But as far as the product on the field is concerned, we can examine how Sacramento’s park has played in Pacific Coast League competition to get a sense for how it might play as an American League venue in 2025.

The River Cats have existed since 2000 but have played just three full seasons in the 10-team PCL that resulted from the reconfigured minor leagues. 

Traditional park factors don’t tell the whole story for a field like Sacramento—whose three-year factor for runs scored is 80—because the River Cats play many road games in extremely hitter-friendly locales like Las Vegas, Reno and Salt Lake City. The influence of those parks tends to distort the bottom line. 

That’s why we will focus on output compiled only during Sacramento home games and then compare it with Oakland home games in 2023. Rank refers to standing among the 30 teams at that level, whether MLB or Triple-A.

Year Ballpark League R/G Rank HR/G Rank
2021 Sacramento PCL 10.55 8 2.69 12
2022 Sacramento PCL 9.46 24 2.27 15
2023 Sacramento PCL 9.32 29 2.06 25
2023 Oakland AL 8.72 23 2.14 25

In the past two seasons, Sacramento has played as one of the more pitcher-friendly Triple-A ballparks. Its rate for runs scored—this is the per-game average of runs scored and allowed in River Cats home games—resides comfortably near the bottom. 

The home run rate at Sacramento has fluctuated, but in the past two seasons it was comparable to the 2023 home run rate at the Oakland Coliseum.

While it is true that the PCL is a hitters’ league overall, Sacramento is consistently one of the exceptions, especially in the high-octane Western Division. No PCL team saw fewer runs in home games than Sacramento last season, and only Sugar Land featured fewer runs in 2022.

Sacramento’s Sutter Health Park favors Triple-A pitchers on a scale similar to way Oakland Coliseum plays for MLB pitchers. The dimensions of the two parks are also similar. It is roughly 400 feet to center field and about 330 feet down each line in both Oakland and Sacramento.   

This might be a coincidence. Or it might be a vestige of Sacramento entering existence as an Athletics affiliate in 2000. They remained partners through 2014, at which point Sacramento began an affiliation with the Giants.

For the first nine seasons of their existence, the River Cats led the entire minor leagues in attendance. Time will tell how well received the Athletics will be in Sacramento.

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