According to a new study, hotter, thinner air that allows balls to fly farther contributed to a surge in Major League Baseball home runs since 2010.
Scientists studied 100,000 major league games and over 200,000 balls used in recent years, as well as weather conditions, stadiums, and other factors.
“Global warming is juicing home runs in Major League Baseball,” said study co-author Justin Mankin, a Dartmouth climate scientist.
Heat causes molecules in the air to move more quickly and apart, reducing the density of the air. Because there is less resistance to slow the ball down in thinner air, pitches thrown off a baseball bat travel farther, according to Alan Nathan, a University of Illinois physicist.
One of the scientists who advised the MLB on the rise in home runs, Nathan, drew his own conclusions based exclusively on the known physics of ballistics and the change in air density with temperature, and claimed to have reached the same finding as the Dartmouth scientists.
Of course, this theory varied by field. The Dartmouth team found Chicago’s Wrigley Field, which hosts mostly day games, has the most warming-homer-friendly boundaries.
The only permanent dome stadium in the MLB, Tropicana Field in Tampa, did not have any significant heat-assisted home runs, according to statistical research.
Baseball executives and veteran players say the findings are compatible with what they have observed on the field.
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