Late last season there was discussion that the Diamondbacks were considering the installation of a humidor at Chase Field. The plan was to store all the team's victory cigars in advance of their eventual next World Series Championship and also to make the baseballs moist.â†µ
Slightly moist baseballs are a tad bit mushy and don't fly as far as the dried out versions. And anyone who's lived through a Phoenix summer knows that "dried out" describes pretty much everything, including balls.
Over the offseason the team was busy on other things, like turning over half the roster and coming up with detailed plans on how they were going to install Kirk Gibson's "Diamondback Way" as the new clubhouse culture. While the new culture includes a ban on cell phone calls and a 'no screens or games' rule prior to the game, it did not include moist baseballs. At least for now.â†µ
"The decision hasn't been made, but we have not focused on it this offseason," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall told the Arizona Republic. "With time running out, it doesn't make sense to do it this off-season."â†µ
In that article, beat writer Nick Piecoro polled some baseball moisture experts who concluded that the humidor idea could reduce home runs at hitter-friendly Chase Field by 38 percent.â†µ
This week, however, Baseball Prospectus rolled out their own expert -- a professor of baseball physics! -- who sharpened his chalk and ran the numbers and opined that the reduction could be more like 45 percent and as high as 54 percent!â†µ
Here's how he put it (and if you understand this, you too could have a future career in baseball physics):â†µ
The experiments found that when the relative humidity is increased from 30 percent to 50 percent, the weight of the ball increases by 1.6 percent and the COR decreases by 3.7 percent. Together, these results can be used to calculate that for a hard-hit ball typical of home runs in Major League Baseball, the BBS is reduced by 2.8±0.5 mph (or about 2.8 percent), where the error bar is due to the uncertainty in the COR measurement and its affect on the BBS.â†µ
No wonder the team hesitated to install the humidor. As they say, chicks dig the long ball, so why would the team who saw attendance hit record-low numbers last season do anything to alienate any part of its fan base.