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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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.
Saturday, July. 14/2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)– 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. This 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 is 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) have 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.)
For Part 3 of the Article Series: The Coors Field Effect: Part 3 of A 3 Article Series click here.