The Humidor Effect On Baseballs At Coors Field: 11 Years In

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Tuesday Aug.06/2013

Since the Humidor room has been put into use at Coors Field, Team batting averages have dropped 8-10% and HRs have dropped 20-25% yearly.  The Rockies still have routinely finished in the top 7 in all offensive categories for every year since 2002.  This year, they lead MLB in every offensive category.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

In the first 10 years of Coors Field, or the Rockies existence for that matter, the baseballs were being belted out of the park at a historically record rate. 

Some of this was due to the steroid era.  Most of it was arrived at by the dry air of Colorado.

The reason is simple, in dry air the ball travels further than in thin air, thus causing more frequent home runs. 

Baseballs being stored in drier air become harder and therefore explode off of a bat when contacted.   After nearly a decade with inflated numbers at Coors Field for offense, a decision was made by baseball and the Colorado Rockies to start holding/storing the game baseballs  in a  room-sized Humidor-that was installed at the Park in order to keep them moist.

Baseballs being stored in drier air become harder and therefore explode off of a bat when contacted. After nearly a decade with inflated numbers at Coors Field for offense, a decision was made by baseball and the Colorado Rockies to start holding/storing the game baseballs in a room-sized Humidor-that was installed at the Park in order to keep them moist.

The implementation of the Humidor was done so the baseballs will not carry as far when hit with impact. 

Elevation would still play a role in the baseball games. Baseballs carry farther in the thinner air and especially when they are rising in trajectory.

Remember that in Denver, you are nearly a mile above sea level already.  In fact, there are purple bleacher tickets that you can buy at Coors Field  that indicate where that mile marker is. 

The cause and effect are harder on pitchers, whose curveballs curve less with the thin air than at sea level-leading to fewer strikeouts and the result is less pitches to use in their arsenal.  

So has the Humidor worked since being implemented before the start of the 2002 season? 

The answer is yes.  The amount of HRs hit now sits with the rest of the MLB Parks that are amongst the top 10 over the last decade. 

The averages have dropped only around 10% of what they were, however Colorado is routinely in the top 4 or 5 parks for average on a yearly basis in the MLB and dominate the NL in home average. 

In 2012, the hotter temperatures(and dry air)  helped  the team to lead every offensive category in the Major Leagues once again. 

Now, there is still a decisive advantage to playing at Coors for hitters when it comes to playing an 81 game schedule there. 

I am going to look at the careers of some previous players to show you the weighted advantage of having this park as a home venue. 

We are going to look at the careers of Larry Walker, Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Garrett Atkins

It is easier to use the hitters as a barometer when deciphering this study because not many pitchers ever prosper again in any city after playing for the Colorado Rockies.

See: (Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Hampton and Jason Jennings once they left Coors Field or before they arrived at Denver after playing somewhere else first.)

No other Rockies player took advantage of the Pre-Humidor Days more than Larry Walker, who was a .381 career hitter at Coors Field compared with a .282 average for the rest of the MLB Parks combined.

Larry Walker

Career Avg: .313, HRs – 383, RBI – 1311, OBP .400 ,SLG .565, OPS .965

Coors Field Numbers: Avg. 381, OBP .462, SLG .710  OPS 1.172

Larry Walker was still a good professional hitter at .282 for his career away from Coors.  These stats are going to be very troublesome for the Canadian to ever try to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

When the teams batting average hovered around .333 with a .550 Slugging Percentage for the years he played in Denver, it was tough for anyone to slump. 

I believe Larry Walker will have to be content with making it into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Todd Helton 

Todd Helton has been a professional hitter with 12 seasons with a .300 + Average.  He has a Lifetime Average of .318.  Like Larry Walker, Helton has a great career Road Avg at .289.

Todd Helton has been a professional hitter with 12 seasons with a .300 + Average. He has a Lifetime Average of .318. Like Larry Walker, Helton has a great career Road Avg at .289.

 Career Avg: .318, HRs – 361, RBI – 1381, OBP .416, SLG .540, OPS .964

 Coors Field: Avg .346,  HRs – 221, RBI – 838, OBP .443, SLG. 607, OPS 1.050

Road Numbers Career: Avg .289, HRs – 140, RBI – 543, OBP .388, SLG .471, OPS .860

Todd Helton is a .289 hitter away from Coors Field for his career . He has 140 Road Homers compared to 221 at home.  His RBI totals have him with 543 on the road compared to 838 at home. 

The ‘ToddFather’ has hit 26 6doubles on the road and 313 at home.  His 4 full seasons without the Humidor even being in effect will hurt his chances at the Hall. 

Like Walker, the voters will penalize him for these stats.  As a first baseman who will finish around 2500 hits, he may fall short of the criteria to enter Cooperstown.

Garrett Atkins

Lifetime Career Average: .285, OBP .350, SLG .449, OPS .799

Coors Field Numbers: Avg .327, OBP .385, SLG .507, OPS .892

Road Numbers Career: Avg .252, OBP .322, SLG .406, OPS .728

Garrett Atkins only lasted 44 games as a Baltimore Oriole.

Other Ex-Players such as Andres Galarraga hit .334 at Coors, .282 everywhere else, Vinny Castilla, .331/.251, Ellis Burks, .334/.282 all foraged great numbers from the pre-humidor era at Coors Field.

As you can see from the graphs, Garrett Atkins and Vinny Castilla were the biggest all – time benefactors from the disparity. 

Don’t forget some other brilliant years from Brad Hawpe and Jeff Cirillo as well.

Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best all-round shortstops in baseball. he plays Gold Glove caliber defense, and he actually hits well pretty much anywhere whether home (.938 OPS) and Away (.817 OPS).

Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best all-round shortstops in baseball. he plays Gold Glove caliber defense, and he actually hits well pretty much anywhere whether Home (.938 OPS) of Away (.817 OPS).

 

Ellis Burks was one of several good hitters that joined the Rockies and used the inflated offensive numbers to his advantage. He hit .344 with 40 HRs and 128 RBI in 1996, while leading the league in slugging (.639) and Runs with 142.

 Team Averages ( Pre-Humidor) Overall MLB Rank/NL Rank

1993-2001

Rockies were an expansion team in 1993

1993-.306 1/1                                       1998-.325 1/1

1994-.300 2/1                                      1999-.325 1/1

1995-.316 1/1                                      2000-.334 1/1

 1996-.343 1/1                                       2001-.331  1/1

                                    1997-.321 1/1                   

The Rockies led the Major Leagues in batting at home 8 out of their 1st 9 years and every year in the National League.   From 1996-2001 the team hit .331.  The Humidor was installed prior to the 2002 season and the averages have dipped about 10%.

Team Averages (Post Humidor) Overall MLB Rank/NL Rank

2002 – 2013

 2002 -.313 1/1                                       2007 -.298 3/1

2003 -.294 2/1                                      2008 -.278 9/4

2004 -.303 2/1                                      2009 -.287 3/1

2005 -.300 1/1                                       2010 -.298 1/1

2006 -.294 3/1                                       2011 -.275 7/2

                                              2012 – .306 1/1                                      

        2013 – .277 5/2

The Rockies have led the National League for home batting average in 9 out of the last 11 years, while finishing 1st overall in the MLB 3 different times. 

That is great considering the pitchers hitting slot out of the 9th hole. 

Last year, the club leads all offensive categories in the MLB at home again.  If you take out the pitchers at bats from the lineup the averages raise about another .15 to .20 average points.  The positional players all hit for an average of about .315. 

This year the club is struggling to find itself offensively, yet are still just barely behind the St. Louis Cardinals by 3 PTS in Home Average this season. 

St. Louis has a 14 Game Lead on Colorado for the #1 Wild Card Spot.

The Rockies positional players have led the MLB for all 20 years of the Rockies existence. 

This is just a further illustration of the Coors Field effect on a players numbers and to always take this into consideration. 

The Humidor has taken away the gawdy numbers that the pre-2002 Rockies displayed, yet that doesn’t change the fact it is still the #1 home ball park to hit in currently. 

If you play 81 games there a year, your numbers will be heavily weighted.

Carlos Gonzalez is latest in the long list of players to take advantage of the thin air in Denver.  CARGO has destroyed the cover off of the ball at a 3 Slash Line of .339/.403/1.033 - with 79 HRs and 253 RBI in just 1168 (or the equivalency of playing 2 full seasons at Coors Field.  His road 3 Slash is .269/.324/.774 - with 48 HRs and 148 RBI in 1248 AB.  To be fair, 2013 he has evolved to hit everywhere finally, sporting a .987 OPS on the Road - to a .930 mark at home.

Carlos Gonzalez is latest in the long list of players to take advantage of the thin air in Denver. CARGO has destroyed the cover off of the ball at a 3 Slash Line of .339/.403/1.033 – with 79 HRs and 253 RBI in just 1168 (or the equivalency of playing 2 full seasons at Coors Field. His road 3 Slash is .269/.324/.774 – with 48 HRs and 148 RBI in 1248 AB. To be fair, 2013 he has evolved to hit everywhere finally, sporting a .987 OPS on the Road – to a .930 mark at home.  Gonzalez has finally rounded into being able to smack the ball around anywhere he plays.  This only makes him that much more dangerous now.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on August 6, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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