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Sports & Science: Weather's impact on the flight of a baseball

Pressure, temperature, humidity all play a role

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ROANOKE, Va. – During Monday night's MLB Home Run Derby, baseball fans watched as young stars like Pete Alonso, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Joc Pederson and Ronald Acuña Jr. launched baseballs into the Cleveland night sky.

When you have that kind of firepower at the plate, it almost doesn't matter what the weather is right? Well...not exactly.

It's true that most of what fans witness when they take in a game has to do with the raw talent and strength these players possess. There are times, however, that the weather plays a role on just how far the ball goes. 

For instance, let's say it is a really warm and humid night out. Hitters love those kinds of nights, because the ball travels. When the air is warm and humid, it is less dense. On the other end, if it's cold - the air is more dense and the ball is less likely to carry.

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This concept of air density is exactly why some of the league's premier power hitters love hitting at Coors Field in Denver. Because it's so high in elevation, the air pressure is lower. Lower air pressure means that the air is less dense. 

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To compensate for the weather's impact on the baseball, the left and right field fences in Coors Field are built 20 feet farther away from home plate than your average MLB park.


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