The Humidor Factor: It Has Made a Definite Difference
Yes, Coors Field is a welcomed sight for hitters. But the humidor has made a difference, even if evaluators like to talk about the entire 23 years as if nothing has changed.
The seven highest team batting averages in the 23 years of Coors Field came in the first seven seasons the Rockies played at Coors Field (1995-2001), which was the period before the humidor was installed.
Individually, the top five single season batting averages came in those first seven years, and in that seven-year stretch 11 of the top 18 individual averages were compiled compared to seven of the 18 in the 16 years with the humidor.
The impact is shown in the home runs.
The seven seasons before the humidor account for the top four single season team home runs totals, and seven of the top 13. In 1995 the Rockies hit 200 home runs, which is the seventh highest total in franchise history, and they played 72 home games instead of the normal 81 because of a delayed start to the season after the players' strike.
Todd Helton (2001) and Larry Walker (1997) share the franchise single season home run record of 49 -- both coming before the humidor was instituted. The four top single-season home run totals at Coors Field and 13 of the top 20 were accomplished in the seven years before the humidor went to work.
From a team standpoint, the top six slugging percentages, and seven of the top nine, came in the seven years before the humidor was installed. Indiividually, the seven best seasons came pre-humidor, and 12 of the top 18, and the 10 lowest ERA for the team have come in the 17 years since the humidor arrived.
And it is the home run that is the biggest difference. As far as extra-base hits are concerned, the top four seasons in terms of extra-base hits did come in those seven pre-humidor years, but from a team standpoint three of the top five extra-base hit totals came since the humidor was added.
And for anyone who doesn't think it has at least been a slight benefit to pitchers, consider that 19 of the lowest ERAs for pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched in the season have come since the humidor was installed in 2002.
And it shows up more than ever in terms of home runs allowed. The Rockies pitching staff ranks 10th in Major League Baseball in home runs since since 2002, fourth among NL teams. From 1995-2001 they gave up the third most home runs in baseball, the most in the American League.