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Monday Rockpile: The humidor in Colorado Springs appears to be doing its job

Colorado Springs is still the offensive capital minor league baseball, but the last two seasons show us that it's losing its grip on that title.

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Prior to the 2012 season, the Rockies installed a humidor in Colorado Springs. Two years later, a quick peak at the most basic data suggests that it's getting the job done, or at least pushing things in the right direction. Now seems like a good time to dig into these numbers a little bit.

Below is a table showing just how much offense declined in 2012 at Security Service Field compared to the rest of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). Despite the average number of runs per game remaining right near the mean number of runs scored for the 2007 through 2011 period for the rest of the league, there was a noticeable drop in the number of runs scored in Colorado Springs. In 2013, things get a bit tricky as the average number of runs across the PCL (for both teams combined in each game) dropped to its lowest figure in years at 9.66. The average number of runs scored in Colorado Springs Springs also dropped to new lows, but the one year drop wasn't as large as the league average.

Explanation of the columns in this table: In the second column "PCL Runs Per Game (Total)", you have the average number of runs scored by both teams combined in all the PCL games played that year. In the next two comumns, I split the the total runs scored in Colorado Springs in half - First with the average number of runs the Sky Sox offense put up per game at home (so home games only), and then the average number of runs the Sky Sox opponent scored per game (again, home games only). Finally, the the column on the far right shows the total average runs scored per game (by both teams) in Colorado Springs for that year, and also how many runs above average it was compared to the rest of the PCL that season. (You can click on the table to get a clearer view of it)


As you can see, there was only 1.35 and 1.41 more runs scored per game scored in Colorado Springs this season than there was in the average PCL ballpark. However, this alone doesn't mean that the humidor worked. It's entirely possible that the Sky Sox just had two of their worst offensive seasons as well as two of their best pitching staffs during these last two seasons - It's unlikely, but we still have to cover for it. So in order to get an even better read on what the new humidor has done, we have to compare the home and road numbers of the team.

So that's what we'll do in these next two charts. The green chart looks solely at the Colorado Springs offense, showing both the number of runs scored at home and on the road, and then adding up the difference. The blue chart does the exact same thing only it looks at the opponent's offense - Or basically how opponents handled Sky Sox Pitching.



This confirms the story the first table was telling. The gap between the offensive productivity at Colorado Springs and the offensive productivity across the rest of the PCL has narrowed considerably over the last two years (even though it's not quite as close as it was in 2012). Here's another important thing to note. Baseball reference only gives the average number of runs scored per game in the PCL for all 16 teams combined, meaning that it doesn't break up the American and Pacific divisions. If you follow the minor leagues closely, you'll know that the Pacific divisions (the side of the PCL the Sky Sox reside in) are responsible for considerably more offense than the American divisions. In other words, if you compared Security Service Field to the other parks in the Sky Sox Pacific division, it's now likely just another crazy offensive park in a league full of them instead of its own special case.

That's still not an ideal situation, but it's better than what we've had to work with before, and I think it might be especially helpful in 2014 as the Rockies have assembled a roster where there's likely to be at least a half dozen pieces starting the season at Colorado Springs that could eventually have a major impact on the big club by mid summer depending on how circumstance goes. The less the AAA ballpark they play in resembles the moon, the better off our players will be when they get the call.

Links from around the NL West

Patrick Saunders explains why he loves the passion and honesty he can always count on from Troy Tulowitzki.

Saunders also breaks down the off season so far as we approach the new calendar year.

Yasiel Puig was arrested on a reckless-driving charge over the weekend after being clocked doing 110 MPH in south Florida. It's the second time this year Puig has been pulled over for going at least 40 MPH over the speed limit. I guess Puigs really do fly.

John Sickels hands out his preliminary grades for his top 20 prospects in San Francisco's farm system.

The D'Backs are going to try and meet with Masahiro Tanaka in person in an attempt to lure him into the desert. It sounds like the snakes are going to be aggressive here, but it remains highly unlikely they end up with the largest offer.

The Padres spent their weekend finalizing a two year $15.5 million deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit. The 36 year-old righty will earn $6 million in 2014 and another $8 million in 2015. The deal also includes an $8 million option for 2016 which will automatically kick in if Benoit finishes 55 or more games in 2015. If he does not, the Padres can pay a $1.5 million buyout.

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