BACKGROUND: Two mathematicians at the University of Northern Colorado are taking a fresh statistical look at the effects of elevation on hitting ý specifically at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, where the field is at a significantly higher altitude (5,277 feet) than any other major league ballpark in the United States. They found that elevation can significantly change the percentage of slugging.
ABOUT THE STUDY: Jay Schaffer and Erik Heiny studied the effects of elevation on slugging percentages -- the total number of bases divided by the number of at bats -- in major league baseball in 2003. They did this by applying a statistical model to determine whether elevation was a significant factor on the hitting statistics for both major leagues. They found that the slugging percentage at Coor's Field is about 9.2. percentage points than for stadiums at middle elevations (between 500 and 1,100 feet), and about 12.5 percentage points higher than at elevations below 500 feet. Other analysts have argued that the effect could also be attributed in part to the ballpark dimensions. However, although it is one of the largest ballparks in the major leagues, its dimensions aren't much different from other stadiums.
THE AIR UP THERE: The "thin air" at such a high elevation means that a baseball carries father, so it's easier for players to hit a home run. Specifically, the high altitude decreases the amount of air resistance on batted balls, so they travel farther when hit. The low air pressure means the pitches "break" less severely and are also easier to hit. To combat this effect, baseballs used in games at Coors Field are placed in a humidor beforehand to increase their weight. Earlier mathematical studies have shown that because of the elevation, a baseball travels roughly 10 percent farther at Coors Field than it does in other stadiums.