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  1. I think its probably just Chone Figgins.

    Comment by Jack — June 29, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  2. As a Seattle resident, I think probably 99% of it’s the weather. It’s been brutal.

    Comment by john from ballard — June 29, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  3. Great article. I’ve always wondered why the M’s built such a huge park knowing the cold/humid weather in Seattle? If no one can hit the ball, then good hitters would by no mean want to sign here. I think it’s time to bring in the fence.

    Comment by MX — June 29, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  4. Never really understood how park effects can change from year to year. Sure, if they actually change the dimensions (ala the mets) but otherwise: it’s the same park every year. the weather might go up or down a few degrees, here and there, but what else really changes at a baseball park that should account for how a park plays each year?

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — June 29, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  5. Is there someplace with a good discussion on the physics of weather and hit trajectory? I remember seeing something like a long fly ball will travel on the order of just a few feet shorter in moderately cooler/more humid conditions–which didn’t sound like much, considering the low percent of “just enough” home runs.

    And but so what about pitch movement? If the conditions slow the ball down and enable even fractionally more movement, that could be enough to yield weaker contact in general. I.

    Comment by Jake L. — June 29, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  6. Dave,
    What about the roof? Could that have an affect? What does history show – is the offense any better statistically with the roof closed?

    I heard Casper Wells say the ball flies better during BP when the roof is closed.

    My proposal: Keep the roof open as fans arrive – for ambiance. Close the roof before 1st pitch. (If it was a beautiful, 72 degree day, okay, leave it open)

    Then, for a real home field advantage, open it again if and when the M’s get a 3-run lead. I wonder home SAVES the roof would get?

    Comment by Bill Belanger — June 29, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  7. A thorough look Dave, well done, but you’ve missed an easy to overlook park factor.

    On most nights, there are several hundred people in the singles bar in left center field, the windbags that talk about their jobs and cell phones all night create a microclimate, pushing a noticeably foul wind towards home plate, effectively killing fly balls hit that direction.

    The winds have also been swirling in from the north more than usual… so another bit to add to the pile.

    Comment by Matt NW — June 29, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  8. FYI higher humidity actually makes the ball travel slightly further because H2O is lighter than the other gases that make up air (N2 and O2). It’s something golfers actually have to take into account if the humidity is particularly high or low.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  9. But has the temperature drops, the air can hold less water vapor. So even though the air is very wet, there isn’t as much water vapor in the air as there would be if the temperature were raised 10 degrees.

    Comment by Andrew — June 29, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  10. True, humidity makes the ball travel farther since humid air is less dense than dry air. But as a golfer, who hits a golf ball 3x as far as baseball players hit a ball; humidity makes little enough of difference to be of no concern. Swings in temperature and elevation greatly affect the distance a ball travels by yards, while swings in humidity affect the distance a ball travels by only inches.

    Comment by Rick — June 29, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  11. With all the talk of bringing in the fences, I wonder if there are alternatives that might also increase offense.

    I have no idea if this would work but as Colorado has their humidifier, I wonder if drying out the baseballs in some way would have the opposite effect. Would dryer baseballs counteract the think marine atmosphere? Can you even de-humidify baseballs in the same way you can humidify them?

    It seems like this should work, but I’m no physicist. It seems like it would be easier than moving in the fences though.

    Comment by Drew_LBC — June 29, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  12. *thick* marine atmosphere, that is.

    Comment by Drew_LBC — June 29, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  13. Seattle didn’t think they were building a huge park. They thought they were building a neutral park not understanding how significant moving from inside to outside would be. I remember hearing an interview with one of the designers saying 5-7 balls a year would leave the stadium and land on the street. To this day not a single ball has left the park.

    Clearly they miscalculated and have chosen to not correct their mistake.

    Comment by Levi — June 29, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  14. Oh I agree it’s mostly irrelevant, but everyone always seems to assume more humidity equals less distance, so I thought it was worth pointing out.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  15. Right, I was just talking about if temperature was held constant and humidity was raised.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  16. They should move the fences in and have some expert examine the wind tunnels, etc. They have some great pitching coming up that should be able to survive in a neutral environment, but their offense needs a boost.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — June 29, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  17. “With all the talk of bringing in the fences, I wonder if there are alternatives that might also increase offense.”

    Perhaps the Mariners could get a player or two that can hit. That might help.

    Comment by Jason H — June 29, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  18. A good summary of offense at Safeco. Non-statistical observation from a Seattle resident…it all makes for a crummy fan experience. Bring in the fences!

    Comment by zbc — June 29, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  19. Once the roof closes, it can’t be reopened once the game starts. But I would agree that the ball flies better when the roof closes.

    Comment by Shawn — June 29, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  20. Weather. Weather varies from the norm from day to day, month to month, season to season, and year to year. To construct a true picture of “average” weather for a location requires something like 100 years of data, and even then there are arguments about whether that is a sufficient long data set. Anything period less than that is going to have inherent variability, and when you collapse anything to one year or less the variations from year to year can be huge.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — June 29, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  21. But wouldn’t playing in a humid environment also naturally replicate the humidor at Coors field for every ball?

    Comment by Joof — June 29, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  22. I always wondered why neither Safeco Field nor Seattle weather hindered the 2001Mariners offense.

    That said, I do believe the weather is a greater factor than are the park dimensions, and the last couple years have been exceptionally cooler than normal in Seattle. Although I have lived here since ’78, I cannot recall just how the weather was in 2001, but it seemed to me to be a warmer year than the last couple we have had.

    Comment by Gail Grace — June 29, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  23. I believe there was a study done on air flow patterns within Safeco a couple of years ago that, although it varied with meteorological factors, the predominant flow of air was from left field toward home plate. This appeared to determine how hard a ball had to be hit into this air flow to clear the fence was more important than the distance. It may be this effect is increased at lower temperatures.

    Comment by maqman — June 29, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

  24. I know Mariners Execs have said that in the past, but it is not true now. There are plenty of games where the roof has started closed and was opened.

    Comment by heychuck — June 29, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

  25. Clearly, that goes without saying.

    Comment by Drew_LBC — June 29, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  26. This past A’s-Mariners series was a brutal watch for me, and my A’s won 2 of 3. Maybe it’s just the 2 teams aren’t that fun to watch in general, but I got this weird feeling like there was no chance either team would score more than 2 or 3 in a single game. Sure enough, 9 total runs in the series.

    Comment by GUY — June 29, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  27. Even scheduling could have a drastic affect. We’re only talking 81 games here.

    Move 7 home games from July to April and it could make a significant effect.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  28. Also a Seattle resident here. I’ve always thought that humidity would probably play as large a role on ball flight as temperature, though I’m no physicist. As such, I think it would be worth it to compare humidity levels as well as temps. I couldn’t confirm this with a quick search, but I do recall hearing or seeing something in the past week regarding how unusually humid it’s been over the past several weeks, with higher than normal humidity/dew points. And it’s certainly *felt* unusually humid to me this spring/summer. Also worth noting is that we’ve also received almost twice the monthly average rainfall for June, after having slightly above average rainfall over April/May.

    Comment by Justin from Greenwood — June 29, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  29. Out of curiosity – oes a marine layer form off Puget Sound?

    Personally, I have been wondering if offense at Petco (and quite possible Angel/Dodger stadiums) the last 2 seasons has been suppressed due to La Nina summers (seemingly cooler daytime temperatures and more marine layer). HR/FB% deviations might elucidate something, but that takes more time than I care to invest at the moment.

    Comment by James — June 29, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  30. My speculation – writing as a person who occasionally performs air quality dispersion analyses – is that closing the roof significantly alters air circulation inside the stadium.

    The prevailing wind at Safeco is from the north and northwest, and the cooler and inclement weather is almost always associated with northerly and northwesterly winds in Seattle. Near ground level the buildings around Safeco channel winds almost due north to south.

    With the roof open, the left field stands on the north side of the stadium act like a wall; in that configuration northerly winds should go up and over the stands, then descend downward onto the playing field, traveling across the outfield toward the first base line. Normally there would also be a downwash wake in the immediate lee of the wall; but since this is a tiered bowl arrangement I surmise the slope of the bowl hinders formation of downwash circulation, so the air descends toward the field as a general current. Fly balls hit to left field go straight into the teeth of an air current that doesn’t just push them back; it pushes them down. This matches my observations in watching the trajectory of high fly balls hit to left field from a vantage point in the seats along the left field foul line where the ball is arcing right to left across the viewer’s field of vision. The balls launch toward the fence, start to hang, then suddenly start plummeting.

    With the roof closed the entire stadium aerodynamically is much more like one large building with much of that wind coming from the north rising up and over the roof, with only a small amount entering the stadium through the gap between the roof and the top of the left field stands. Accordingly with the roof closed there is much less of that wind coming over the left field stands and hence balls carry to left and center fields much better with the roof closed (and everything else being equal).

    But then you also need to consider that the roof is closed only during inclement weather, which means colder weather. So generally offense is down when the roof is closed simply because those are the coldest days, when the ball doesn’t carry well regardless of the effects the roof might have on air circulation patterns.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — June 29, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  31. Ah, it looks like if the roof is closed before the game starts, then it can be opened during the game as long as the other team is OK with it. But if the roof is open when the game starts and they close it later, it cannot be reopened.

    Comment by Shawn — June 29, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  32. Safeco should be the biggest advantage in baseball for any home team, yet the GM’s since Pat Gillick have failed miserably. The first year Gillick took over he improved the team by 12 wins and consistently won 90+ games, also having 116 win season. All of this happened at Safeco. The year after Gillick left there was a 30 game decline in the win column.

    Comment by Fostar — June 29, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  33. If they have to take time to open/close the roof, would that be a Stadium Delay?

    Comment by Julian — June 29, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  34. Actually, someone hit one out during batting practice one time. I don’t remember now who it was – might have been Butch Huskey.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — June 29, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  35. I blame A-rod

    Comment by j6takish — June 29, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  36. The “humidor effect” is just to keep balls within their specified weight limits. They eventually realized that leaving them sitting out for months in a dry climate was causing them to lose enough moisture to fall below the minimum weight. I guess it’s possible the opposite could I happen, but I would tend to think in a more humid environment they would just not lose weight as opposed to gaining it. Seattle isn’t THAT humid during baseball season either. For example, Atlanta has a higher average relative humidity (both morning and afternoon) than Seattle from June through September.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  37. Baseballs actually carry further in high humidity, because air is, non-intuitively, lighter when it’s full of water.

    Comment by Jon L. — June 29, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  38. This site sums it up pretty well. Humidity actually makes the ball travel further, but the effects are smaller than the trajectory-shrinking effects of cold temperatures:

    Comment by Jon L. — June 29, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  39. The problem with the “thick” marine air, as another poster pointed out, is not that humid air is denser than dry air (even though it somehow feels like it is). It’s actually less dense. The problem is that the baseballs soak up the moisture from the air and become less resilient. Your suggestion actually has quite a bit of merit.

    Comment by Harlock — June 29, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  40. Dave, I see you referenced one of Scott Sistek’s posts from KOMO. Did you see this one from a couple of days ago?

    Comment by ddoppler — June 29, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  41. It certainly has been a miserable spring and early summer season in the Seattle area, weather-wise, but…I think that some of the, “the weather is making offense stink” argument can be debunked here:

    I’m not a weather expert, but Scott Sistek is. I can think of maybe 4 or 5 balls all season that have died 1 or 2 feet short of being a HR. As Dave stated, this isn’t all about HR (that ball Adrian Gonzalez crushed in the 8th last night, for instance), but still – the data presented by Sistek above goes a little further than just a weather map…and seems to say that we need to look elsewhere.

    Comment by randallball — June 29, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  42. Just saw that you mentioned this when I posted.

    I linked it.

    Comment by randallball — June 29, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

  43. Why do so many in baseball think that as soon as a few hitters complain that they hit a ball perfect and it did not go out of the park, that it is time to move in the fences?

    Even if hitters’ stats suffer and it makes them less likely to want to play there, nobody mentions that the pitchers would prefer to play for a stadium like that. Hell, even if your hitting stats are ‘suppressed’ by the park, would that not maybe save you some money because you can use those lower numbers in arbitration cases? (I understand this would hurt in negotiations with pitchers, but again it seems like the good and bad of having a pitcher’s park evens out for the most part.)

    With this in mind, I truly believe that the only reason that owners are so quick to move in the fences is to appease the casual fans that only pay attention when a homerun is hit, and maybe because they can add a few hundred seats, (and make the stadium look tacky) by doing so.

    Honestly, am I missing something here? Is it because people or objects all have to all be the same and copy eachother? Is it the growing socialism movement being entrenched in people’s minds? I just cannot understand why it is so important to have only hitter’s parks and am truly at a loss. Some people do still like pitching duels…..

    Comment by HoratioSky — June 29, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  44. Are you sure about the humidor just being for wright? The reasoning for the humidor was that the harder, drier balls cause a more elastic collision, and so more of the force of bat on ball is transferred, while the softer balls weren’t as efficient.

    Comment by Joof — June 29, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  45. Yes, we have persistent marine layers here for much of the baseball season. Our driest, warmest, least cloudy part of the year runs from mid-July through early September, though even during that stretch it’s not uncommon to have the marine layer for 2-3 days at a time with high temperatures barely reaching into the 70s.

    Comment by Mike B. — June 29, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  46. The difference is quite small. The major factor affecting the flight of the ball is air density. At 60 deg F and 20% relative humidity (sea level), the density of air is 0.07606 lb/cf. At 90% humidity that changes to 0.07513 lb/cf, a difference of less than 2 per cent. Change the air temperature to 80 deg F, at 90% humidity the density changes 0.07121 lb/cf. Air temperature and elevation above sea level are the dominant factors.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — June 29, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  47. Their OPS was still 30 points lower at home than on the road, even though most teams perform slightly better at home.

    Comment by Joof — June 29, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  48. I don’t think your conclusion is necessarily supported by the article. I think the key line is this:

    But hitters would have a gripe that Seattle’s weather in general makes it much more difficult to hit a home run that other parks with similar dimensions. Remember that statistic that adding 16 degrees can increase a home run’s chance by 10 percent. Many other cities are playing baseball in weather that is that much warmer or more.

    So even though he argues that Seattle’s weather isn’t affecting the team more than in previous years, he’s admitting that it could be having a greater relative effect, since other ballparks are experiencing warmer weather.

    Comment by Nadingo — June 29, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  49. Even the bars the mariners have can only hit singles…

    Comment by Steve — June 29, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  50. Gillick traded away all the good players and then left.

    Comment by Jake — June 29, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  51. The Mariners could hit more HRs if they wanted to, but Ichiro told them not to

    Comment by Steve — June 29, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  52. How much increase in wind speed/direction would it take to knock balls down significantly?

    That seems a viable culprit to me, cutting into both HR and doubles if balls are going just as high but not as far.

    I looked up some average wind speed data and June 2012 is maybe 1mph higher than previous two Junes. Not sure how to check on direction and impact on Safeco tho.

    Comment by Jimbo — June 29, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  53. I know Glenn Allen Hill came close.

    Remembering back to the 2001 season people used to gather on the street in case a ball would fly over. That pretty much ended after the Home Run Derby when even using the small extra hard ball no-one cleared the bleachers.

    Comment by Levi — June 29, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  54. I know this is way off topic, but one of the best parts of Safeco right now is $5 beers in the garden up until 1 hour before first pitch.

    Comment by Levi — June 29, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  55. I live in Oregon and frequently drive up for Mariners games, and agree with what most of the Seattle residents have to say regarding the weather effects. One more wrinkle I would like to point out regarding the roof closed/open thing is that it’s conceivable that a different organization might take steps to make a more hittable environment without bringing in the fences (anyone who has watched M’s-A’s or M’s-Padres this year can attest to the pain of watching such futility) but the Mariners have a unique ownership situation. Not to get talk radio about it, but they have the only owner is baseball (and possibly all professional sports) who has never been to the stadium or to see his team play (even when the Mariners were in Japan). So it’s entirely possible the baseball people in the organization are gnashing their teeth about this while the ownership group remains aloof.

    Comment by Unfortunately Still A Mets Fan — June 29, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

  56. Yes, it’s “the growing socialism movement.” Bravo.

    Comment by Will — June 29, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  57. There is a TON of noise in year to year park factors. We are not even half way through the 2012 season. There is a lot of uncertainty around the numbers in this discussion. Nothing wrong with discussing temperature changes, but you need to pull the temperature, humidity levels and wind vector during the game.
    vr, Xei

    Comment by Xeifrank — June 29, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  58. They carry further given the same impetus off the bat, because water vapor is less dense than air at the same temperature. However, the balls generally get less impetus because humidity makes balls and (to a lesser extent) bats softer, so collisions between them are less elastic. This is why at Coors they put the balls in a humidor. (Relatively damp and soft balls are also easier for pitchers to grip, enabling them to get more spin on their breaking balls).

    Comment by joser — June 29, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  59. I know Glenn Allen Hill came close.

    I believe Glenallen Hill is who it was. Probably in August of 2000 when he was with the Yankees when they visited Safeco.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — June 29, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  60. They also planned and built it when the steroid era was reaching its crescendo. Would have been a lot more home runs, particularly for lefties, had that continued.

    Comment by Daven — June 29, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  61. Interesting. Though I’m not convinced that upping the offense in the stadium is necessarily a good idea in the first place, this might be a less permanant way to try it out than changing the actual structure of the ballpark.

    Comment by Drew_LBC — June 29, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  62. Well technically on the whole they seem to be able to hit just fine this year on the road.

    Comment by Daven — June 29, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  63. Sixth in the Al in road wRC! The Mariners have plenty of players who can HIT, just none who can hit at home.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — June 29, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  64. Well, considering that taxes are at an all time low, the federal government will soon be requiring all Americans to buy insurance from private companies, and the term “socialism” is only ever used as a pejorative in America, it surely must be the “growing socialism movement”. That is the only explanation that makes sense.

    Comment by Jason H — June 29, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  65. Are the M’s owned by Paul Allen? He’s the only NW billionaire I can think of who would be that disengaged from a sports team he owned.

    Comment by fergie348 — June 29, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  66. I assume you’re getting that from the Wikipedia article? The only article cited as a source says nothing of those supposed studies. It does however mention how MLB randomly weighs some of the balls to make sure they’re staying within the allowed weight range. There was a great article that went into the specifics at one point, though I haven’t found in the few minutes I spent looking. There are articles however that mention the Rockies finding in 2002 that their baseballs were lighter (as well as tougher for pitchers to grip because the cover had dried out) than the balls used at other stadiums in the majors. Obviously a lighter ball is going to carry further than a heavier one when contacted with the same force.

    “Cowell had an epiphany that would change Colorado Rockies’ baseball forever. He surmised that the same dry conditions in Denver, where the humidity rarely goes above 10 percent, that constricted his boots must also be affecting the baseballs.

    The Rockies’ engineering department conducted some tests and came to the same conclusion that major-league pitchers had arrived at anecdotally for years: The balls at Coors Field were funky.

    More specifically, they were lighter, and slicker, than balls used around the majors”

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  67. “Sixth in the Al in road wRC! The Mariners have plenty of players who can HIT, just none who can hit at home.”

    The Pirates have the greatest wRC in the 6th and 7th innings! The problem isn’t the players!!!

    Comment by Jason H — June 29, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  68. They’re officially owned by Nintendo of America, but the controlling partner (whose name eludes me) uses Howard Lincoln as his proxy.

    Comment by Unfortunately Still A Mets Fan — June 29, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  69. Lets all remember though, its temperature that make the greatest effect. The colder the air, the denser the air is too. And as was mentioned, the colder the air, the lest humidity. So its a double whamy. On average, Seattle is one of the coldest cities in the ML and most games here are played at night. The average overnight temperature here is even colder than San Fransisco, which usually wins the coldest day time temperature award.

    Comment by Bob9988 — June 29, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  70. The ownership group include some 20 odd number of people. The majority owner is a Japanese man who has since retired from Nintendo and has never seen a game. But he uses his son, who is the president of Nintendo of America based in WA as his representative. He along with the other owners meat regularly many times a year at Safeco to talk about the team. What is said in these meetings has long been a debate however. Profit or preformance.

    Comment by Bob9988 — June 29, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  71. I knew it was pretty brutal, but my first reaction to that home triple slash line was that there must be a typo. Upon further review, they are indeed hitting like Cliff Pennington when they’re at home.
    Amazement isn’t always a positive sensation.

    Comment by Big Jared — June 29, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  72. U r getting something wrong here! Humid air=long fly balls
    dry air=no carry

    why? Humid air just feels sticky to humans since we breathe oxygen and not water. in humid air there is a high amount of water vapor in it. But water molecules are actually lighter ie they weigh less compared to the usual molecules in the air. that means humid air is lighter air which leads to less drag or friction on a flying object which leads to longer distances.

    best wishes
    german physics student/stats geek

    Comment by actual physicist — June 29, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  73. Do you know how an increase in air density affects the distance the ball travels? If air density increases 2% does that decrease the distance the ball travels by 2%? If so, that would be a 7-8 foot difference on borderline HRs.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — June 29, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  74. A pitcher’s park isn’t a problem. But such an extreme pitcher’s park that young hitters can’t develop and old stars get devalued and discouraged is. They don’t have to get Safeco all the way to neutral. They could make big changes without getting all the way to neutral.

    Comment by Bookbook — June 29, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  75. I blame the hipsters.

    Comment by Justin — June 29, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  76. Good information Basil. My suggestion to the M’s is close the roof right before 1st pitch on most nights – almost every night – not just on cold and wet nights. If it was an extremely beautiful, hot night, fine, keep it open, but expect a low scoring game.

    I think closing the roof every night would have a positive effect on offense – both the home team and the visitors.

    I think the ritual of the roof closing, even during the National Anthem and the ground rules would become something fans would like and celebrate.

    Then, upon first pitch the problem of SAFECO being such a lopsided pitchers part would be changed, and it would be a neutral park. To me neutral would be ideal. Not a pitchers park, not a hitters park, but both.

    What do you think?

    Comment by Bill Belanger — June 29, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  77. “The Pirates have the greatest wRC in the 6th and 7th innings! The problem isn’t the players!!!”
    Being able to score runs in half your games is a lot better than being able to score runs in two out of nine innings. The Mariners are hardly an offensive juggernaut but it’s not like they can’t hit either.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — June 29, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  78. Neutral would be my ideal choice. I wonder what Dave thinks? Dave, if you were designing the park would you go pitchers park, hitters park, or neutral?

    Comment by Bill Belanger — June 29, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  79. The BB rate also increases at Safeco. If there are more walks and strikeouts, that implies there are longer at-bats, and maybe (probably) more foul balls. What are the foul-lines like in Safeco? Are they closer to the stands? If more foul balls are reaching the seats, fewer of them will be caught, so ABs will go longer, increasing the chances for a walk or strikeout.

    Is that a possible explanation for the increased BB/K rates?

    Comment by Oliver — June 29, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  80. The other difference is that with the Pirates, every other team can actually score in innings 1-5 and 8-9. With the Mariners, no other team can score in Safeco either.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — June 29, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  81. Outstanding article.

    Comment by Train — June 29, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  82. “Marine layer.”

    I am 12 and what is this? Well here you go, de wikipedia:

    is an air mass which develops over the surface of a large body of water such as the ocean or large lake in the presence of a temperature inversion. The inversion itself is usually initiated by the cooling effect of the water on the surface layer of an otherwise warm air mass.[1] As it cools, the surface air becomes denser than the warmer air above it, and thus becomes trapped below it.

    Comment by payroll — June 29, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  83. Are there no other bars in the area? Jesus, $5 beers is hardly a sell here in Mpls.

    Comment by payroll — June 29, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

  84. We ought to be able to test the humidity vs dry air theory in tonight’s game, as I have never felt a muggier (more humid) day in Seattle in a long time. Great article though, and I believe the M’s home hitting slump has to be weather/air related for sure and not the batter’s eye, distant fences or lousy hitters.
    Pete, Seattle resident.

    Comment by Pete — June 29, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  85. >not a single ball has left the park

    Please, tongue firmly in cheek: The more accurate statement would be “not a single hard ball has left the park.” I went to Safeco once when there was a softball home run contest. Lots of balls were hit out onto 4th Ave. S. [left field]. Those guys were crushing the ball.

    Comment by kcw — June 29, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

  86. Cliff Mass is that you?

    Comment by JAH — June 29, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  87. I always thought that Safeco Field was even more pitcher friendly than Petco Park. At least in Petco Park, hitters can hit doubles and triples. In Safeco Field, hitters can’t even rely on doubles or triples. It is the least friendly park for hitters in all of baseball.

    Comment by Rzeczpospolita — June 29, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  88. More specifically, it’s all Obama’s fault. Or, you know, Cuba.

    Comment by Julian — June 29, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

  89. Along with the other good points, park factors are relative to the rest of the league, so if the rest of the league builds new small parks with lots of home runs while your park stays the same, your park will seem like more of a pitchers’ park relative to the league.

    Comment by Ian — June 29, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

  90. “Obviously a lighter ball is going to carry further than a heavier one when contacted with the same force.” Which is what make plastic balls fly so well?

    Obviously for any amount of kinetic energy, the lighter ball will be going faster, but it will lose velocity faster from friction. In addition, I’m not sure as much energy would be transferred to a lighter ball. It could easily be that the initial velocity (not the initial energy) is constant across ball types. Then the light ball would cause shorter trips.

    Comment by monkey business — June 29, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  91. I love this article, thanks Dave.

    Comment by monkey business — June 29, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  92. With all the discussion of temperature and humidity going on here I think it is also important to keep in mind the difference in “relative humidity” vs. “actual amount of water vapor in the air”.

    A lot of people throw around the term “relative humidity” without actually knowing what that means. The word relative refers to the number of grains of water vapor in the air “relative” to the temperature. The higher the temperature of air the more moisture it can hold. Therefore saying that the relative humidity today is 45% tells us absolutely nothing unless we are also given a temperature. So when it is 72 degrees in Seattle, and 102 degrees in Atlanta there will actually be considerably more water vapor in the Atlanta air when the relative humidity for each is exactly the same.

    Comment by Michael — June 29, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  93. Plastic balls don’t go far because the energy isn’t transferred to them as well because they flex more and in the case of balls like wiffle balls they create more wind resistance because of their profile.

    If you disagree, then why in the world do you think they put the humidor in part to keep the weight of the balls higher?

    Comment by Alex — June 29, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

  94. Um, I think he did say that:

    “The recipe for a baseball to fly a long ways is hot and humid air.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — June 30, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  95. You’re very close. It’s not the the slowing down of the ball, but it is the movement. Pitches thrown in denser air will have more movement than when thrown in lighter air, making it harder for hitters to make good contact. More strikeouts, less hard hit balls getting through the infield, line drives that don’t have quite enough to get past a sprinting outfielder, hitters get just under a pitch and it’s caught on the warning track, etc…

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — June 30, 2012 @ 12:24 am

  96. Is that what happened?

    Can’t recall that myself. What I remember is that he maybe hung on to veteran players a bit too long, rather than trading them away/and/or supplanting them with talented young players.

    I don’t know if you can lay the blame on Gillick for trading away the good players….got a few examples?

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — June 30, 2012 @ 12:46 am

  97. Excellent article! I’d like to add that weather conditions don’t remain a static condition from first pitch to final out. A gametime temperature of 70 degrees in Seattle in May (not that we had many of those this year!) would drop considerably over the course of 3 hours or so. Any moisture in the ambient air could condense out of the air, producing “heavier” air as has been previously discussed.

    This has 2 effects: First, for a pitcher whose arm tires as the game goes on, the heavier air aids in altering the pitch FX. A slider in the first inning might be thrown faster, but break less due to reduced air friction. As the game progresses, air cooling more rapidly at Safeco, the same pitcher who would otherwise lose velocity and leave more pitches up in the strike zone, now gains a slight amount of extra push from the air surrounding the pitched ball. The effect is a slightly slower pitch, but a pitch with more break on it. Batters facing the starter for the 2nd or 3rd time, already making adjustments, can’t get tuned in to the pitcher’s best pitches because they break more, move more, etc.

    Second effect is of course, the batted balls in flight. The pressure against a batted ball is greatest when it’s first hit because a sphere isn’t terribly aero-dynamic. The batted ball, therefore, starts its flight with more force against it as the air cools and condenses. The ball dies in the outfield for fly balls, and can get a parachute effect when hit high enough. This effect is reduced earlier in games, and increases after the sun goes down.

    Also too, in Seattle, being further north than any other major league city, we experience greater swings in sunset times, causing early and late season earlier sunsets, and mid summer late sunsets. The warmest month is August, after the summer solstice, so the warmer, lighter air doesn’t take full effect relative to darkness as it would in other Major League cities.

    Final thought: I know the article discussed how both Mariners’ and visiting opponents offensive outputs are both lower at Safeco, but one thing to remember is that visiting opponents only have to play in Seattle a few games a year, reducing any negative psychological effect the ballpark is creating. For Mariners players, it’s an inescapable prison sentence.

    Comment by Jesse — June 30, 2012 @ 1:34 am

  98. Every time I read an article about Safeco Field suppressing run scoring, it seems to always focus on how far a ball carries and how it reduces home runs. Surely a factor, but something always seems to get missed: the effect the cold, dense air has on pitch movement. Pitches thrown in cold, dense air are going to have more movement on them, and decrease the chance that a hitter has of making good solid contact. That’s why you see parks like Safeco and Petco, being at low elevation and generally cooler than most parks, have higher than normal strikeout park factors, while places like Chase Field and Coors Field, higher and/or warmer, see lower than normal strikeouts.

    Strikeouts in this context are only an indicator…the larger picture is that not only are they whiffing more, it’s just tougher for hitters to really square up the ball and make good contact. Pitchers put spin on the ball to create movement and make things harder on a hitter, and the more movement you get, the better your chances of getting hitters out. The higher the air density, the greater the break you can get, and the tougher it is for hitters to make good contact or make contact at all. Less runs score as a result.

    Lots of attention is paid to home runs and how a ballpark might affect them, but it’s important to keep in mind that the majority on runs scored in Major league baseball are generated by non-home run events. All these other events have more of an impact on run scoring than home runs do, and pitch movement on those events is going to have as much or more of an impact on run scoring as any reduction in home runs due to air resistance.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — June 30, 2012 @ 1:37 am

  99. I’d like to see the MLB ballpark pitch fx stats to verify your (and my) argument. I’m sure denser air is playing a significant role in reducing solid contact.

    The Mariners have been the victim of a perfect game thrown against them, they themselves threw a combined no-hitter, and tonight, were 2-hit by a pitcher with a 9.39 era entering the game, all at Safeco Field.

    Circumstance? Maybe. But what’s undeniable is that, from a statistical point of view, Safeco Field is sinking wOBA for otherwise capable hitters, and artificially elevating the effect of otherwise average pitchers.

    Comment by Jesse — June 30, 2012 @ 1:58 am

  100. Hi all — I wish I had this much thoughtful debate in the comment section on my actual article! :) My original intention in writing the article when I started out was to see if the delta between a normal June and this very chilly June was making an added difference in restricting HR’s, which it turned out, it really wasn’t (at least on a whole). But our “normal” June *is* a fair disadvantage compared to just about every other park, save for maybe SF/SD and their marine layer battles.

    I’m also surprised the predominant wind woud be in from left. Typical wind during cool days is South/southwest — although in summer on our nice days (i.e.: any day with a decent amount of sunshine that was less than 84 degrees) woud be a northwest sea-breeze wind that would be dominant at 7p but start to die off around 9. But that pattern has been MIA in June so far. Hasn’t been warm enough to trigger any kind of p.m. seabreeze so far.

    Comment by Scott Sistek — June 30, 2012 @ 3:34 am

  101. They open and close the roof during the middle of innings, as it’s totally nondisruptive.

    Comment by Breadbaker — June 30, 2012 @ 4:23 am

  102. I think Aaron Cook throwing a CG 2 hit shutout last night is all the proof you need here

    Comment by das2209 — June 30, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  103. Solution: get a giant oven and bake the balls!

    Comment by John Roberts — June 30, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  104. I was really hoping that the Pen’s happy would drive a price war with pyramid and bring beer down to like $3. Unfortunately the free market has failed us here because people will pay anything to numb the pain of watching a mariners game.

    Comment by swansok4 — June 30, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  105. So humid balls are heavier and softer. How about bats? Ichiro keeps his bats in a humidor so they are always the same. Maybe he should try a Dehumidifier so his bats are more al dente and less wet noodle.

    Comment by Look4wrd — June 30, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  106. Relying only upon my own experience bicycling to a dozen or so games a year, over the past dozen or so years, the breeze is frequently from the south blowing me to Safeco along East Marginal Way. This is more common in April, May and June before our “Seattle” summer takes hold mid July.

    Biking home into a head wind after a loss is dispiriting.

    Comment by Look4wrd — June 30, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

  107. Maybe it’s just society

    Comment by yougottabelieve — June 30, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  108. Yes, we’re the northernmost stadium in the country. Yes, we’re near the water. Yes, there’s a marine layer. Yes, the wind knocks down fly balls to left. But only the Mariner’s get “Safeco’ed”. Opposing teams, while they may not be hitting the same they do elsewhere, seem to have no trouble hitting the ball out of the yard. Park sure didn’t seem to bother Boston last night. All their HR’s were well out of the yard. Just goes to show you what a hitter is supposed to do to a pitch right down the middle. Mariner hitters aren’t doing that – they are missing them that little bit so it’s fouled straight back or popped up. They aren’t yet legitimate major league power hitters. Oh, they’ll have the occasional blast, but no one on this team is as yet capable of a consistent 30+ hr’s a year. They may be in the future, but they aren’t now, either physically or mentally. For goodness’ sake, we’ve had a perfect game thrown against us by a pitcher with as many losses as wins, and last night we made a journeyman pitcher making a fill-in start look like the second coming of Walter Johnson. You can’t blame all that on the park.

    Comment by Brent — June 30, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  109. The Seattle Mariners are what’s dragging down Safeco Field’s production. The Seattle Mariners suck at hitting. And half the PA’s at Safeco Field are taken by Mariners hitters.

    Comment by waynetolleson — June 30, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  110. How dare you point out weather small sample sizes matter. The entire case of global warming is built on a tiny data sample. You’d have to believe the text in the Bible the earth being merely 6000 years old to think otherwise.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — June 30, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  111. My observation has always been the Safeco was tougher on hitters than the park effects claimed. But, I had no real way to prove it.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — June 30, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  112. So…time to rebuild the Kingdome, then?

    Comment by maguro — June 30, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  113. Seems to me that this is supported by the BAbip stats on the fangraphs link. Both mariners and their opponents have a 40+ point drop in BAbips at safeco vs. elsewhere. I would like to see if this is confirmed in larger samples.

    By the way if the fences are moved in it will be far uglier for the mariners at least in the short term… All the starters past felix are flyball pitchers.

    Comment by Tcbrd — July 1, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  114. How much of the M’s big road numbers have come from a few road games? For example, they scored like 22 runs in 2 games at Arizona, and 20+ in Texas.

    Comment by Greg — July 1, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  115. One solution that would be easy to test would be to cycle out the balls more often (giving less exposure to the conditions). Also, ensuring that they are stored in dry conditions would help as well.

    Beyond that, you’d have to check the differences in the trajectory vs distance to see what (if any) difference was made.

    Moving the fences in doesn’t solve the problem, help the problem or even make sense. You’d make homers more likely, but if it ever got hot, you’d be playing in a little league stadium.

    Comment by Brian — July 1, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  116. Did you not read the entire article about how the Mariners’ opponents are suffering even worse declines in their core statistics than the actual Mariners when they come to Safeco?

    By the way, if you extrapolate Kyle Seager’s road performance to an entire year of road games, he’s on pace for 35 home runs.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — July 2, 2012 @ 3:41 am

  117. I’m guessing you didn’t read the part of the article where Dave mentions that the Mariners’ opponents are statistically suffering from being in Safeco even more than the actual Mariners are.

    Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — July 2, 2012 @ 3:43 am

  118. Some of the issues discussed in this thread can be investigated with my “trajectory calculator”, an Excel spreadsheet for calculating trajectories, taking full account of temperature, elevation, relative humidity, wind, and barometric pressure. It can be downloaded here:

    I investigated the effect of temperature in a recent ProGuestus article (in the context of “global warming”, although the analysis was more general). I investigated the humidor effect at Coors in a ProGuestus article from 2011. Note the primary effect of the humidor is to control the coefficient of restitution of the ball, not the weight.

    Comment by Alan Nathan — July 2, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  119. The state of Washington has a mini-prohibition on liquor (the current draconian liquor tax, and previously state run liquor stores). As a result, Washington (and the PNW as a whole) have a number of micro-breweries that fill the gap for people wanting beverages with higher alcohol content than your normal macro-brew. It is bizarre, but Seattle happy hour typically ends at 6 pm and the beers can be marked all the way down to $5 or $6.

    Comment by Nate — July 2, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  120. Moving the fences in and studying weather patterns is all a bunch of loser talk. Seriously, most of these guys aren’t even hitting the ball with any authority….but I’m sure it has to do with the relative humidity at Safeco…or the salt content of the Puget Sound.

    Comment by Franky — July 2, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  121. Sorry, I stopped at ‘loser talk’.

    Comment by Gihyou — July 2, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

  122. I’m not suggesting Cameron is a loser. I’m saying that’s how losers talk. They (the M’s) find reasons to justify their losing ways. And until these guys like Smoak, Ackley, Carp, Guti and Montero start hitting the ball with some Authority, then we can talk about other “factors”.

    Comment by Franky — July 2, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  123. The thing you don;t mention is that temp. is positively correlated with pitch velocity, which in turn is correlated with higher K rates. So at least two offsetting factors at work in a cold environment.

    Comment by evo34 — July 3, 2012 @ 5:19 am

  124. Some actual data from Seattle home games from 2005-2011:

    All home games: 8.28 rpg.
    482 games with roof open to start game: 8.34 rpg.
    85 games with roof closed to start game: 7.94 rpg.

    Avg. temp. for roof-open games: 65.4 deg.
    Avg. wind vector out to CF for roof-open games: +0.4 mph.
    Avg. wind vector left to right for roof-open games: +1.0 mph.
    Correl. of wind vector out to CF to rpg: +0.05.
    Correl. of temp. to to rpg: +0.05.

    Comment by evo34 — July 3, 2012 @ 5:30 am

  125. Remember winning when we had a true dome?

    Comment by Yohan — July 18, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  126. Good lord this is a big thread. Yogi Berra said “90% of baseball is mental, the other half is physical.” Mostly I just like to use that quote whenever possible, but it’s a nice lead in to what I think the REAL park effect of Safeco is. Players’ heads. I don’t know what the actual park effects were, but I remember Mariners teams that scored a lot of runs and didn’t seem to have too much trouble getting the ball out of Safeco (although yes, it was still a pitchers park, I’m not disputing that). Safeco didn’t seem to drag down Boone’s numbers or Olerud’s or Edgar’s or Buhner’s. At the same time Ichiro thrived, though admittedly some of those guys aren’t power hitters, still, it didn’t seem in those days like the park was holding back hitters that much. At the same time we’ve seen some less than brilliant pitching in Safeco, the ace of that 2001 staff was Freddy Garcia who I liked, but he was no ace, then Sele, a solid #2, also a solid #2. So that’s 3 decent #2 starters and 2 fillers. None of them lit the league up, certainly none were as goo as Felix Hernandez since then. More recently Brandon Morrow couldn’t get anybody out at all in Seattle, he seems to have found himself since moving to Toronto. What I think is happening has little to do with the park itself, its that the league has convinced themselves that Safeco is brutal to hitters, so they don’t hit the way they hit everywhere else. Adrian Beltre’s time in Seattle were some of his worst years, but the important observation comes from watching the game, he didn’t LOOK like Adrian Beltre, the park doesn’t cause a power hitter to hit soft pop ups and ground balls to 2nd base and short right field. It’s in the player’s heads, and if the Mariners could get it out of their own heads it might be an advantage for opposing teams to come in thinking they have to do something different than they normally do, but the Mariners are the worst Safeco headcases in the league. Yonder Alonso’s power his disappeared this season with just 4 home runs all year, he had one when the Padres walked into Safeco in mid-June but he walked into Safeco and blasted one to the back of the lower deck, I realize this is the worst of generalizing from nonexistent sample sizes, but Alonso can’t seem to get it out of any park, but Safeco didn’t seem to hold him back, if you hit the ball hard it will travel, if you convince yourself that you can’t hit in that park and do something different than what you normally do you’re not going to hit no matter how thick the air or short the fences.

    This is largely a mental invention of the players themselves, which makes it a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Comment by Corey — July 18, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  127. Remember winning more than anybody ever has in the history of the game when we moved out of the dome?

    Comment by Corey — July 18, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

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