DENVER (KDVR) — While it may not seem like it with the Rockies record this year, it is scientifically easier to hit a home run at Coors Field. But it’s not necessarily a home-field advantage. Like most phenomena in Denver, it has to do with the elevation of the Mile High City.
Coors Field is known as an “easier field” because it hit a record-setting 303 home runs in 1999, according to the Colorado Rockies website. The Rockies estimated that a home run hit 400 feet in Yankee Stadium (sea-level) would travel as far as 440 feet in Denver.
CU Boulder looked into the physics of 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 it’s because the atmospheric pressure is about 20% less than a park at sea level. With less air resistance, the ball can go further.
“Baseballs do travel farther at Coors Field than at other parks, with most estimates citing an increase of 5 to 10% in distance,” said Hamlington.
Just because it’s easier to hit a home run doesn’t exactly mean Coors Field is easier to play at. While the thinner air makes the ball go further, it also goes faster when it’s pitched, which is good for the pitcher and bad for the hitter. It isn’t a breeze for pitchers either. Curve balls curve less due to the thinner air, said the Rockies.
When it comes to natural factors, wind may actually be better than altitude. A ball hit 400 feet with 10 mph winds (the U.S. average wind) has the potential to turn into 430 feet, said the Rockies. A windy day at Yankee Stadium can be better than a still day at Coors Field.
According to statistics compiled by Only Homers, there have been 154 home runs at Coors Field this season as of Aug. 28. This is the 15th highest in the league, and only three-quarters as many as Yankee Stadium, which has 209 home runs.
Denver can’t exactly blame the Rockies for not hitting it out of the park this season. The Rockies have a little less than 20 games left at home. Stop by for a game before they’re over for the season.