Does the Coors Field Effect Really Exist?

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Coors Field in Colorado has been known as the most hitter friendly ballpark in the game for years. Due to the high altitude, baseballs fly farther, and pitches break less, leading to increased offensive numbers from many players. Pitchers are wary of signing large deals with the Colorado Rockies, since the success rate there isn’t high (See Mike Hampton). However, Coors may be a double-edged sword. While it can be a hitter’s haven, there are many factors and unique wrinkles about the Coors Effect that beg the question: Does the Coors Field Effect really exist?

Body Beatdown

For anyone who has never been to Denver, it is interesting to say the least. Your body just feels different. What may normally be a slight jog could feel like you just got in a foot race with Trea Turner. It usually takes about two weeks to adjust to the Mile High City, but Rockies players don’t have that luxury. The longest homestand the Rockies had in 2021 was nine games, followed by a seven-game road trip. They never get a chance to adjust before they went out of town for a week. Add onto that a six-month regular season, and they have to be gassed by September. It’s just a completely different wear and tear on your body.

Pitch Movement or Lack Thereof

This may be one thing many fans never think of. The best things for a hitter are rhythm and repetition. The more pitches they see, the more they will dial it in and be able to hit. Now this is where it gets interesting. The average fastball at Coors Field loses three inches of vertical movement, which means they lost any good rise they would have. A pitch that a hitter may swing under is now getting hammered. Curveballs lose almost two inches of vertical break, and sliders and cutters lose about half an inch of horizontal movement. This is where many people think the conversation ends, and it does make sense. The Rockies’ home park has less pitch movement, so more firepower. But it needs to be taken a step further. For example, let’s say the Rockies have a homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They see Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias, all guys with pretty electric stuff. They have another three games at home, then travel to Los Angeles. That Kershaw curveball is going to look more wicked than it did a week ago, since he got those two inches back.

Home vs. Road Splits

This may be the most overlooked part of the Coors Effect. While it is true that many Rockies players have better home than road numbers, that is not just exclusive to Rockies players. There are 29 other parks in baseball. Some are hitter friendly, and others, not so much. There are three different players career home and road stats down below, and only one has called Denver home.

Player A

Home: 1,000 AB, 299 hits, 46 doubles, 85 homeruns, ,299 BA, .412 OBP, .602 Slug.

Road: 1,068 AB, 272 hits, 47 doubles, 73 homeruns, .255 BA, .361 OBP, .509 Slug.

Player B

Home: 2,129 AB, 663 hits, 142 doubles, 79 homeruns, .311 BA, .374 OBP, .495 Slug

Road: 2,148 AB, 576 hits, 128 doubles, 62 homeruns, .268 BA, .333 OBP, .422 Slug

Player C

Home: 2,365 AB, 734 hits, 163 doubles, 150 homeruns, .310 BA, .365 OBP, .588 Slug

Road: 2,346 AB, 623 hits, 133 doubles, 119 homeruns, .266 BA, .324 OBP, .481 Slug

If you asked 300 people to name the Rockies player, you would get 100 people that would say each one. Player A is Aaron Judge, player B is Xander Bogaerts, and player C is Nolan Arenado. This may shock some, but it makes sense. The ballpark matters. Judge plays with the short porches at Yankee Stadium, and Bogaerts gets to bang balls off the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston. No disrespect to Judge or Bogaerts, but it is unfair that no one talks about these numbers if you don’t play at Coors. To further the point, if you just take Arenado’s 2021 numbers, he was a FAR better hitter away from Busch Stadium, a pitcher friendly ballpark where the ball just doesn’t carry. Also, many don’t realize the Rockies travel to play the San Francisco Giants a lot, which is a notoriously big cavern. In Matt Holliday’s first full season away from Colorado, he had more home runs, doubles, and hits, and a higher BA, OBP, and Slug, and that was while playing for the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Conclusion

To sit here and act like Coors Field doesn’t boost offense would be crazy. However the notion that it is an arcade-like stadium where gravity is lifted is kind of worn out. It gives more power to players, both home and visitors, but it also creates problems that only the Rockies experience. It makes sense for players to hit better in hitter friendly parks all across baseball, and it also makes sense that some players just hit better at home. While it does still exist, it isn’t the vaunted baseball launching pad we used to think it is. Think of it as just one of the many unique factors that make baseball great.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Mike Hampton, Trea Turner, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Xander Bogaerts, Nolan Arenado, Matt Holliday