Humidifiers arouse uncertainty in the MLB

The changes in Big leagues as of the 2022 season they continue to cause controversy. Not only adjustments were accepted in the signaling system or in terms of the designated hitter, to name a few, but it was also ordered, for the first time, that the 30 teams have humidifying rooms in their stadiums.

Humidifiers consist of climate-controlled chambers that ensure baseballs are stored at average humidity. There, the temperature and humidity level of the balls is controlled, and they are stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and 50% humidity before each match. According to scientific studies that have advised the league, these cameras allow a balance between more powerful or shorter shots according to the humidity of the different cities of the MLB and its height at sea level.

For example, Coors Field in the Colorado Rockies had received, in the period from 1999 to 2001, just before the humidification system began to be used (in 2002), the park effects rating of 121 points, the highest margin for offense from any Major League ballpark. It had been the ballpark for the most home runs with a 152-point rating when homers were connected, StatCast revealed.

Research such as that of Dr. Alan Nathan, an expert in baseball physics, describes that “increasing the storage humidity of the ball, as do the rockies and the Diamondbacks (in Arizona), adds weight but decreases rebound. This means the ball travels better once it’s airborne, but leaves the bat at significantly lower exit speeds.” In other words, this means that the balls, being drier, have more bounce and can go further from the start.

In the case of cities quite close to sea level, such as Miami (home of the Marlins) just two meters away, a totally opposite effect occurs: “A moistened ball would be easier to hit hard, but it would not fly as far because lighter balls have greater air resistance,” the studies add. of Dr. Nathan.

To counteract these imbalances, MLB decided that all 30 parks will have the humidifiers starting this year. The first precedent occurred in 2002 precisely at the Rockies’ home and until the 2022 season, there were only 10 teams that had this type of humidity control chambers: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.

However, Eno Sarris, baseball analyst at The Athletic, is one of those who doubts this innovation. He points out that in several parks that are notorious for their humidity, the introduction of the humidifier could have the opposite effect and help hitters by keeping baseballs drier.

“This won’t be a big deal at most parks, but for the ones that are wetter, like San Francisco, San Diego, Miami and Tampa Bay, they can get an offensive boost, as the humidifiers will dry out the balls a bit. . The humidifiers bring the humidity down to average and were a big problem in Arizona where it’s very dry.”

This uncertainty also affected the players: “I am sure that this will spoil many things. They always come up with these ideas, but they don’t seem to work properly. We’ll see, but I’m sure something will happen and then in the middle of the year there will be an adjustment and, whether we know it or not, I’m sure they will change it, “exclaimed Trea Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The MLB has been facing a credibility crisis with players and members of coaching staff for some years. In the 2017 season they were denied for the use of balls, since while the league sent a memorandum to the 30 clubs stating that the balls had not changed, independent studies refuted the statement and forced managers to accept these changes at the beginning of 2018 .

Another blow to credibility came in the most recent offseason, in November, when MLB acknowledged using two different balls, one that travels farther than the other, during the 2021 season. The league cited manufacturing shortages related to the covid pandemic, something that the players did not believe.

“What MLB says, they don’t know either. Every way they rub the ball is different, every way they make a ball is different, every way they put the mud on the ball is different, every way they check the boys too. It’s all a dice game and no one knows it. Regardless of what MLB thinks will happen, it will probably be the other way around,” Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.

Some of the results of humidifiers can be seen in Colorado. Despite the fact that Coors Field remained the stadium with the highest production support in the league between 2019 and 2021, the values ​​​​of effects of the park were reduced to 114 points in terms of home runs, showing a reduction in the offense of that stadium 19 years after employing the use of cameras.

However, with 30 humidifiers in venues with a wide variety of heights, the results have yet to be evaluated at the end of the 2022 season. However, the judgment of those results will be colored by the annoyance that the players carry due to the inconsistencies of the MLB in the last five years.


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