AUSTIN (KXAN) — What’s your favorite part of a baseball game? Do you go to see the power hitters launch majestic home runs over the outfield fence? Or, is a mound duel between two pitchers more your flavor?
If it’s home runs that you want then you’ll be happy to know that home runs have been increasing over the last several years. The reasons may vary from stronger hitters to weaker pitching. But there’s another factor that many would have never considered. It has to do with the changing climate.
Scientists at Dartmouth College did a study dating back to 2010. Their research was recently published in the American Meteorological Society bulletin. The research included studying 200,000 balls put into play (walks and strikeouts were not included) along with the dimensions of the 30 baseball stadiums and the weather.
It is a given that a baseball travels better in warm and humid weather. The more humidity in the air the better it is for baseballs to travel out of the park.
The researchers used Celsius temperatures to determine their findings. They used increments of 1.5°, 2°, 3° and 4° as their reference points during their study of 100,000 ballgames.
Their results would make those favoring the long-ball smile. A 1°C increase could add up 95 home runs during a season.
Here’s how the science works:
The science behind this has to do with molecules traveling away from each other as the air temperatures increase. Baseballs will encounter less air resistance during warmer weather versus colder weather. The lower resistance means the ball will carry further in warm weather.
For baseball enthusiasts, this means the difference between a home run and a flyout.
A global temperature of 4°C would not only increase the home runs but would result in hotter days, more intense storms, and other concerns affecting Earth.
And, how do we know this happening? We have reported many times that Earth’s temperature has climbed an average of 0.14°F (0.08°C) per decade since 1880, or 2°F total.
Where the ball carries vs. where it doesn’t
So, which ballparks are experiencing the rise in temperatures the most? Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Denver’s Coors Field are the leaders with an additional 5 to 6 more homer runs at a global temperature increase of 1.5°C. At 3°C and at 4° Wrigley Field has a “commanding lead” over the other 29 parks. One other factor in why Wrigley Field is affected most is that they play more days games in the cozy confines when, on many days, the humidity is lower.
Not all ballparks would be affected because of their particular climates. In the study of all 30 ballparks, it was determined that Tampa’s Tropical Field isn’t affected by this phenomenon because it is a full-time domed ballpark. It was interesting to note that both Texas ballparks would see very little impact.
By the way, it stands to reason that if baseballs are affected then so, too, would golf balls. The more distance (and, of course, accuracy) the chances of getting lower scores, depending on how good your game is.
So, the next time you’re about to head to a ballgame, even a college game at our beloved Disch-Falk Field, check the weather forecast, including the humidity. You just might see an aerial assault of baseballs leaving the yard.