With teams from New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado having made the Major League Baseball playoffs this year, the weather has been a factor, with rain and even snow for various games; however, even dry and cold weather affects the flight of a baseball.
Cold, Dry Air is Heavier
While it’s always popular to blame the “heavy” air of the summer for limiting the number of home runs, it’s actually the cold, dry air of fall that negatively affects the flight of a baseball.
Hot, humid air feels heavier to us since our sweat doesn’t evaporate, leaving us feeling sweaty and sticky; however, the hot, humid air of summer is considerably lighter than the cool (or cold) and dry (it terms of absolute humidity) air of the fall.
It might be harder to hit a baseball when it’s cold since our muscles are more likely to be tight, and the impact of the baseball with the bat is more jolting in the cold. In addition to those problems, once the ball has been hit, it will not fly as far it would when it’s warm and dry.
Plenty of Home Runs This Year
Having made those statements–that it’s tougher to hit the ball, and the ball will not fly as far–it might seem surprising that there have been so many home runs this year’s “November Classic.” (The World Series in nicknamed the “October Classic,” but look at the calendar.)
Both the Yankees and the Phillies, the World Series combatants, have enough pure home run hitters that home runs will be common no matter the weather, but it’s also the ballparks.
New, Smaller Yankee Stadium
The brand new Yankee stadium, which is in its first season, has the same dimensions as the old Yankee Stadium; however, some of the outfield walls are two feet lower than the old stadium. In addition, the way the outfield is configured is slightly different, so despite the identical dimensions, there are areas where the fence is a full nine feet closer to home plate. The result has been more home runs.
Citizen’s Bank Park
The home stadium of the Phillies, Citizen’s Bank Park, has dimensions more appropriate for a minor league team than a major league team with a payroll in excess of $130 million. The deepest part of the park is 401 feet, but it diminishes to just 330 feet down the left field line and 329 feet down the right field line.
Yankee Stadium is about 10 feet deeper in center field and 30 feet deeper in left-center field.
Just as a point of comparison, the old Polo Grounds, which had shorter distances down the lines, was a much larger park elsewhere, with a center field dimension of 458 feet, with left-center and right-center dimension of nearly 450 feet.
When you see modern players hitting balls into the stands that look like they should have been innocent fly ball outs, it’s because they would have been innocent fly outs in stadiums of the past.
What is a Phillie anyway?