If you are a fan of baseball, you might have noticed that the number of home runs in Major League Baseball (MLB) has increased significantly in recent years.
In fact, 2019 was the most homer-happy season in MLB history, with a record-breaking 6,776 home runs hit by players. What is behind this surge of long balls? Is it the change in the ball design, the swing mechanics, the analytics revolution, or something else?
According to a new study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by researchers from Dartmouth College, one of the factors that contributes to more home runs is climate change.
Yes, you read that right. Climate change is making baseball more exciting, at least for those who love to see balls flying over the fences.
How does climate change affect home runs? The study explains that warmer air is less dense than colder air, and therefore offers less resistance to a batted ball.
This means that a ball hit with the same speed and angle will travel farther in warmer air than in colder air. The researchers estimated that for every 1°C increase in temperature, a batted ball will travel about 0.6 meters farther.
Using data from over 100,000 MLB games and 220,000 batted balls from 2010 to 2019, the researchers found that higher temperatures substantially increase home runs.
They calculated that climate change has caused about 500 more home runs over the past decade, which is about 1% of the total home runs hit in that period.
They also projected that if the current warming trend continues, there will be 192 more home runs per season by 2050 and 467 more per season by 2100.
Of course, climate change is not the only factor that influences home runs. The study acknowledges that other factors such as ball design, swing mechanics, analytics, and stadium dimensions also play a role.
However, the researchers argue that climate change is an important and overlooked factor that should be considered when analyzing the trends and variability of home runs in baseball.
The study also reveals some interesting patterns of how climate change affects home runs differently across different ballparks.
For example, Wrigley Field in Chicago is expected to see a lot more climate-enhanced home runs because it is open-air and many games are played in daytime when temperatures are higher.
On the other hand, indoor stadiums such as Minute Maid Park in Houston or Chase Field in Phoenix are expected to see fewer climate-enhanced home runs because they are temperature-controlled and shielded from external weather conditions.
The study concludes that climate change is reshaping not only our lives and livelihoods, but also our recreation and entertainment. Baseball is one of the most popular sports in America and around the world, and it is also one of the most sensitive to environmental changes.
As the planet warms up, we might see more home runs flying out of the park, but we might also lose some of the charm and tradition of this classic game.
Final Thoughts: Climate Change and Baseball – A New Connection
The study by researchers from Dartmouth College sheds light on an intriguing connection between climate change and baseball, specifically home runs.
It presents compelling evidence that warmer temperatures can significantly impact the distance a batted ball travels, which in turn can lead to more home runs being hit.
This finding not only adds a new dimension to the ongoing debate on the causes of the surge in home runs in recent years but also highlights the far-reaching effects of climate change on our daily lives and activities.
The study’s methodology and data analysis are robust and comprehensive, covering over 100,000 MLB games and 220,000 batted balls from a ten-year period.
The researchers’ calculation that climate change has caused around 1% of the total home runs hit in that period is a significant figure that cannot be ignored.
Moreover, their projections for the future, if the current warming trend continues, are alarming, with the potential for hundreds of more home runs per season by 2050 and 2100.
The study also brings to light the variability of the impact of climate change on home runs across different ballparks. This finding highlights the need for local, context-specific analysis to understand better the full range of effects of climate change on different aspects of our lives.
The study’s conclusion is sobering, suggesting that while we might see more home runs in baseball, we may also lose some of the traditions and charm of this classic game as the planet warms up.
It also emphasizes the need for policymakers, sports organizations, and individuals to recognize and address the impact of climate change on sports and recreation, as well as on other aspects of our lives.
In summary, the study adds a new layer of understanding to the complex relationship between climate change and human activities. It also underscores the need for continued research and attention to this critical issue.
Climate change is not just a threat to the environment; it is a threat to the way we live and enjoy our lives, and we must take action to mitigate its effects.