As we discussed last week, having a humidor at Chase Field has been a long process, having first been suggested the best part of a decade ago. Installation started last year, but the plug on the humidor was (figuratively, and quite probably, literally) pulled in the middle of the season, despite it reportedly being on the brink of operation. A variety of excuses were offered internally for the delay, and since then, an odd silence had descended about the entire topic. With the 2017 Diamondbacks’ pitchers doing a much better job, even without the humidor, we wondered whether the whole idea might quietly be dropped.
But that does not appear to be the case. Nick Piecoro reported last night, “The Diamondbacks officially will unveil a humidor for 2018, General Manager Mike Hazen said.” This seems almost certain to have a significant impact on home-runs this year. Professor Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois, looked into the precise topic last April. He predicted that keeping the balls at 50% humidity and a temperature of 70 degrees would lead to a drop in exit velocity of about four miles per hour. While that may not seem like much, applying the change to a sample-size of 312 actual home-runs hit at Chase, would lead to 47% of them no longer leaving the park.
Last year, a total of 205 home-runs left Chase Field, which was the fourth-most in the National League, behind Great American Ballpark, Citizens’ Bank and Miller Park [yes, Coors Field had fewer, at 198]. If Nathan’s projections prove on the money, the humidor in 2017 would have led to an adjusted number of just 108 home-runs. This would have dropped Chase Field from fourth-most, all the way to tied with AT&T for dead last in the league. Needless to say, that would have quite the impact - entirely counter to Derrick Hall’s comment saying, “I don’t think (a humidor) really did diminish the offense at Coors Field. We don’t know if it’s going to make much of a difference.”
On the plus side, the future arbitration costs for all our young hitters probably just got considerably cheaper...