web statsweb stats Climate change? Have rising temps lead to more MLB home runs? - FightSaga

Climate change? Have rising temps lead to more MLB home runs?

By Lee Cleveland, FightSaga - April 9, 2023

The MLB saw an average of 58 additional homers per season from 2010 to 2019, due to the rise in temperatures.

According to recent research, climate change has been a huge factor in the ‘home run heyday’ of baseball since 2010. By studying the data about home runs, scientists have found that higher air temperatures have contributed to more than 500 home runs.

The results appeared on April 7 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

In the last four decades, the number of balls clearing the fences has gone up, and this can be attributed to a variety of reasons. Steroid abuse has been one such factor, as well as recent changes in stitching patterns on the balls being used.

But some had speculated about whether climate change could be increasing the number of home runs.

Christopher Callahan, a climate change researcher and baseball enthusiast from Dartmouth College, wanted to solve the mystery that was hidden in the game’s data. And after he presented his findings at Dartmouth, two more researchers from diverse areas of expertise joined his project.

An increase in home runs can be attributed to basic physics – the warmer it gets, the less dense the air becomes, leading to decreased air resistance.

In order to investigate if the rising temperatures were contributing to an increase in home runs, Callahan and his team employed several methods.

The team initially examined the impact of temperature at the game level. In roughly 100K MLB games, the analysts found that a 1-degree Celsius increase in daily high temperature could hike the home run rate by practically 2 percent.

For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies’ June 10, 2019 game set a record for the most home runs in a single game – 13. However, had it been 4 degrees C warmer, it’s likely there would have been 14 home runs that day.

But, really, can the temperature influence the distance a baseball is hit?

Data analysis has revealed that there is a clear correlation between higher temperatures and an increase in home run production since the 1960s.

How did they come to that conclusion?

They utilized a climate model that accounted for the impact of greenhouse gases and found that human-induced warming resulted in an average of 58 more homers for each season from 2010 to 2019.

To gain more insight, the team analyzed over 220,000 batted balls via the Statcast system which uses high-speed cameras to track each ball’s trajectory and speed since 2015. The scientists studied the behavior of balls hit the same way on days with varying temperatures, taking into account outside factors like wind speed and humidity.

The analysis revealed that home runs increased with the rise in temperature. Furthermore, the lower air density due to higher temperatures is what contributes to the larger number of home runs compared to other analyses at the game level.

Interestingly, the research found that temperature had no effect on the number of home runs when a game was played under a dome.

While climate change has “not been the dominant effect” causing more home runs, “if we continue to emit greenhouse gases strongly, we could see much more rapid increases in home runs” moving forward, Callahan stated.

Home runs have always been an exciting element in baseball, but purists feel that there has been an overabundance of them recently, taking away from the excitement of good old-fashioned pitcher’s duels. That’s why the MLB decided to implement several new rule changes for the 2023 season to add more entertainment value.

Because the sport is susceptible to snow, storms, wildfires, flooding, and heat at various points during the season, Orr says, “I don’t think, without substantial change, baseball exists in the current model” within 30 years.

Callahan agrees. “This sport, and all sports, are going to see major changes in ways that we cannot anticipate.”


Tags: Global WArming