If you are a fan of baseball, you may have noticed that the number of home runs hit by players has increased significantly in recent years.
In fact, 2022 was the most prolific year for home runs in MLB history, with a total of 6,776 homers across all teams. That’s an average of 1.39 home runs per game, breaking the previous record of 1.26 set in 2017.
What is behind this home run boom? Some experts have suggested that changes in the design and manufacturing of baseballs have made them more aerodynamic and bouncier, giving hitters an advantage over pitchers.
Others have pointed to the rise of analytics and launch angle optimization, which encourage players to swing harder and aim higher for more power and distance.
But there is another factor that may be contributing to the increase in home runs: climate change. According to a new study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, rising global temperatures have made the air less dense, allowing baseballs to fly farther when they are hit.
The study, conducted by researchers from Dartmouth College and other institutions, analyzed data from over 100,000 MLB games and 200,000 individual batted balls from 1962 to 2019, along with observed game day temperatures.
They found that a game that is 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average game would have nearly 20% more home runs than average.
The researchers also used a climate model to estimate how much human-caused warming has affected home run rates over time.
They found that climate change has led to an average of 58 more home runs each season from 2010 to 2019, accounting for about 5% of the total home runs hit during that period.
The study also projected how future warming scenarios could affect home run numbers in the coming decades.
Under a high-emissions scenario, where greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase rapidly, the researchers estimated that there could be an additional 1,000 home runs per season by 2050, compared to a scenario where emissions are stabilized.
The study’s authors acknowledge that there are many other factors that influence home run production, such as ballpark dimensions, player performance, and weather variability.
They also note that their analysis does not account for potential changes in humidity or wind speed, which could also affect how far baseballs travel.
However, they argue that their findings demonstrate a clear and consistent relationship between temperature and home runs, and that climate change is having a measurable impact on America’s pastime.
They suggest that baseball fans and players should be aware of how global warming is affecting the game they love, and that policymakers and stakeholders should take action to mitigate its effects.
As one of the authors, Christopher Callahan, said in a press release: “We hope this study will help fans appreciate how climate change is affecting our favorite sport – and perhaps inspire them to join us in working toward solutions.”
Final Thoughts: Climate Change’s Impact on Home Run Surge in MLB
The recent study by researchers from Dartmouth College and other institutions provides compelling evidence of how climate change is contributing to the home run surge in Major League Baseball.
The study highlights the relationship between rising temperatures and the reduction in air density, which allows baseballs to travel farther when hit.
It suggests that the warming climate has led to an average of 58 more home runs each season from 2010 to 2019, accounting for about 5% of the total home runs hit during that period.
While some may argue that other factors like changes in ball design or launch angle optimization may be behind the increase in home runs, the study’s authors provide a convincing case that climate change is a significant factor.
The study’s projection of a potential 1,000 additional home runs per season by 2050 under a high-emissions scenario should be a wake-up call for policymakers and stakeholders.
This research has significant implications beyond the baseball diamond. It demonstrates the far-reaching impacts of climate change, which can affect even our most cherished pastimes.
The study’s authors are right to suggest that we need to be aware of how global warming is affecting the things we love and work together to find solutions.
It is clear that the impact of climate change on baseball is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle. However, this study is a powerful reminder of how interconnected our world is and how the decisions we make today can have lasting impacts on our future.