DENVER (KDVR) — While it may not seem like it with the Rockies’ record this year, it’s scientifically easier to hit a home run at Coors Field. But it’s not necessarily home advantage. Like most Denver phenomena, it has to do with the elevation of the Mile High City.
According to the Colorado Rockies website, Coors Field is known as the “easier field” because it hit a record 303 homers in 1999. The Rockies estimated that a home run with a distance of 400 feet at Yankee Stadium (sea level) would go as far as 440 feet in Denver.
CU Boulder examined the physical reasons why it’s easier to hit a home run at Coors Field. Peter Hamlington, associate professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering, explains that this is because the air pressure is about 20% lower than in a park at sea level. With less drag, the ball can fly farther.
“Baseballs actually fly farther at Coors Field than at other parks, with most estimates suggesting a 5 to 10% increase in distance,” Hamlington said.
Just because it’s easier to hit a home run doesn’t necessarily mean Coors Field is easier to play. While the thinner air makes the ball fly farther, it also travels faster when thrown, which is good for the pitcher and bad for the batsman. It’s not child’s play for pitchers either. Curved balls curve less because of the thinner air, the Rockies said.
When it comes to natural factors, wind can actually be better than altitude. A ball flying 400 feet in a wind of 10 miles per hour (the average wind in the US) has the potential to morph into 430 feet, the Rockies said. A windy day at Yankee Stadium can be better than a calm day at Coors Field.
According to statistics compiled by Only Homers, there have been 154 home runs at Coors Field this season (as of August 28). That ‘s the 15th highest number in the league and only three – quarters the number of homers at Yankee Stadium with 209 .
Denver can’t really blame the Rockies for not doing quite as well this season. The Rockies have a little less than 20 home games left. Come by for a game before the season is over.