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The Dodgers are using a humidor at Triple-A Albuquerque

Apr 3, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

coors field humidor

Albuquerque’s elevation is actually 32 feet higher than Denver. So, yes, the ball flies there. Just ask any PCL pitcher and they’ll tell you. So a lot of those PCL pitchers gotta be happy with this development: the Dodgers have put in a humidor to moisten/deaden baseballs at Isotopes Park. From the Santa Fe New Mexican:

With the 2013 Pacific Coast League season set to launch Thursday when the Isotopes play host to the Iowa Cubs, it was an offseason decision by the parent Los Angeles Dodgers that will undoubtedly have the biggest impact on the season.

The humidor is intended to mute the effect dry air has on a baseball, which makes the ball feel harder and bounces off a bat with greater power.

That, in turn, leads to skewed numbers for hitters and pitchers alike.

I know geography and gate matter, so if you’re a west coast team it makes sense to have your farm teams out west too, and in places where fans will actually show up. But boy howdy it has to be hard to evaluate players in places like Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and the like.

Adding this to the Coors Field humidor is a good step. But it’d be nice if all of the teams, majors and minors, who play at elevation would do this so we could at least attempt to get some sort of standardization of this stuff.

  1. Kevin S. - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    A lot of teams won’t even send their top pitchers to the PCL because of how it will stunt their development.

    • cur68 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      OTOH, any pitcher that can keep it in the park in such an environment is gonna be a stud anywhere else.

    • jarathen - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      It’s always strange to me that the PCL is AAA when you consider how many grains of salt have to be taken with many of the performances there. If nothing else, at least it forces people to acknowledge that part of baseball is environment, much moreso than previously though.

      The Angels have an especially fun system in that AA Little Rock is a pitcher’s dream and then Salt Lake is a launching pad.

  2. dowhatifeellike - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Rather than modify the balls, why not change the field dimensions? The influence of altitude on an object in flight is discrete and measureable, so just modify the field to scale. You’ll see more bloop singles and doubles, but it beats having balls flying out of the park.

    • quietfan24 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      dowhatifeellike – excellent idea. The problem is that it’s not just the dimensions – the lack of humidity actually causes problems for pitchers in that the ball doesn’t break the same way when it leaves the hand. The dry air at altitude makes the ball not as heavy, so it tends to stay up in the strike zone. Which hitters of course love. And then pitchers try to overcompensate by changing their grip, which causes massive problems in development.

    • cur68 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Not a terrible idea (since more room = more seats = more fans= more revenue . . . in theory) but there might be a few reasons why they went with a humidor:

      1)Matter of cost; just cheaper to build one room over moving fences and seats and adding turf
      2)the damper balls = a more “normal” balls. They’ll see more MLB reflective game conditions with a normalized ball
      3)having your fielders run six kilometres for long fly balls might be detrimental to their health

      Anyhow, if I had to flip the switch on this decision I’d go humidor, too. All you’re doing is mimicking the bulk of MLB and getting a “truer” evaluation of talent.

      Still, finding a pitcher who can keep the ball on the ground at altitude is a real hidden bonus here to the non-humidor balls. The severe penalty for leaving a pitch up in the middle would train them to stick to the four corners of the strike zone.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        There’s no kilometres in Albuquerque.

    • carbydrash - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      This would be a good idea if the range of the outfielders expanded along with the dimensions.

      It improves the issue, but not much. It just leads to a ton more doubles than home runs. Coors Field is 415 to center, 350 down the lines, 390 in one of the allies…and that did very little to solve their problem.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    At first glance I though the headline was that the Dodgers acquired Al Alburquerque.

  4. jcmeyer10 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    I thought the Isotopes played in Springfield. I didn’t know they actually went through with the threat of relocation. :D

  5. tmohr - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    The multi-year park factor for Coors last year was 120 (per BBRef) – perhaps someone forgot to plug in the humidor?

  6. sophiethegreatdane - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    I always wondered if anyone took a serious look at a suggestion that, I believe, Rob Neyer made years ago — use baseballs with bigger/higher stitching to help with the breaking pitches.

  7. revansrevenant - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    I’ve always wondered, and please don’t rip into me too much, but how exactly does this not count as doctoring the ball? If a pitcher were to do something to get the same effect before he threw a pitch, he’d get tossed.

    • dowhatifeellike - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      It’s not considered doctoring the ball when MLB condones it. Adding a little moisture is rather innocuous compared to what “doctoring the ball” really implies – pine tar, sand paper, etc.

      From what we’ve seen in Colorado, though, the humidor isn’t working.

      • revansrevenant - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Thank you for clearing that up.

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