I've always found the gap between the Rockies home and road numbers both fascinating and frustrating. Coors Field is such a unique environment, and the impacts it has on multiple parts of the game are extreme. So extreme in fact, that it feel as though there has to be some way the Rockies can take advantage of it, but so far, it's actually seemed to hurt the franchise as much (if not more) than it's helped.
Eleven years have now passed since Colorado first installed a humidor to quell the outrageous brand of baseball being played in its park during the early years of the franchise. It's certainly had an impact, but the environment remains unique when compared to the rest of MLB with many details still shrouded in mystery. That mystery part is not acceptable to me, so I'm going to try and dig deeper and just become as educated as possible when it comes to how Coors plays and all the impacts that go with it.
Today's Rockpile is by no means meant to draw any conclusions. In fact, it's the exact opposite of a conclusion. It's a beginning; the start of a project that could take any length of time to finish. I have no idea where this road will lead, and I'm well aware that it might just be a long dead end, but as someone who loves this team, I want to know as much about this subject as possible, and since all is still quiet on the Rockies news front, now is as good of a time as any to start. Feel free to join me on the journey.
For now, I just wanted to start with some observations, so I compiled some offensive numbers and broke them down year by year dating back to the beginning of the humidor era. The three tables are as follows (you can click on each to get a larger image).....
The purple chart shows the home hitting numbers.
The red chart shows the road hitting numbers.
The green chart shows the gap (home numbers - road numbers)
(Data provided by baseballreference.com)
There's a tremendous amount of information to digest here. So much in fact that going into detail about all of it could take several articles. Instead, lets all just scratch the surface and make some observations for now. I'll start.
A) The first thing that immediately jumps out at me is the 06 through 09 seasons. For reasons we don't yet know, those seasons represent a block of time where the home/road splits were not as severe for the franchise. The fact that these seasons come consecutively makes me hypothesize that this may have something to do with roster construction, but that's a study for another day.
B) The 2012 home / road splits were amazingly similar to 2002 across several different categories.
C) As AFDenverFan pointed out in his Rockpile back on January 25th, walking seems to be really important to this team's offense - Although just looking at these charts, it seems to be more important when it comes to road numbers than home numbers. (This could be interesting to explore in its own piece)
D) Luck and circumstance (BABIP) seems to have a large impact on these splits during the extra extreme years.
E) The 2006 team was actually better at hitting home runs on the road than at home.
F) Until the last two seasons, the gap in BB% between home and road numbers was more than 1.1% only once in the humidor era. However, the last two seasons have seen the two largest splits in that category. (I have a feeling this has a lot to do with the extra terrible road showings we've seen recently)