Yesterday, MLB Network spotlighted Barry Bonds in their Greatest Hitters of All-Time segment and dropped it on YouTube for San Francisco Giants fans like me who don’t have any carrier that features their product. You can watch the five-and-a-half-minute video here:
Dan Plesac has the best line of the segment: “Most hitters have a hole that’s probably about the size of a softball. Barry’s was about the size of a golf ball.”
Yesterday, we learned that the humidor at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú was not set at the Coors Field conditions, but rather the setting for the 29 other stadiums.
That might’ve contributed to all the home runs we saw... also, keep in mind that Mexico City’s elevation of 7,349 feet is 41.3% higher than Coors Field’s.
We’re all familiar with the Baseball Reference fun where Barry Bonds hits nearly 1,000 home runs in his career if he had played in Coors Field his entire career, but I wonder if the added elevation and the different dimensions — Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú is much closer to the Great American Ballpark in dimensions than Coors Field — would produce a greater result.
It’s not as simple as increasing his home run total by 41.3% because in this ridiculous scenario, and I’m not a mathematician so I can’t formulate a manner for making the adjustments using B-R’s programming, and I’m missing certain rate stats for his entire career and in the Baseball Reference fun. I don’t have any Statcast data for Bonds or the stadium in question or even a good sense of how Major League hitters might perform there after just two games; but, I am a sports blogger, and that requires only the will to do something stupid for the potential of getting clicks, so here we go.
Okay, here’s one answer to the question, “How many home runs might Barry Bonds have hit had he played his entire career in Mexico City using the humidor conditions from Saturday’s game?”: a lot.
Another, clumsier answer: at first, I thought it’d make sense to drop Bonds into the 2023 Great American Ballpark run scoring environment. Why there? Statcast gives that place the best park factor for home runs over the last three years by a pretty wide margin — a 19.8% difference. And, like I said, the dimensions there are similar to Mexico City. But I have to recognize that the ball is likely closer to the 2000 run scoring environment of Coors Field. So, we’re starting with the 988 projection from five years ago — how many more could Bonds hit?
So, now we’re back to just figuring out how to deal with the elevation. Well... hmm. Mexico City is 41% higher than Denver, but from an atmospheric standpoint, it’s a 7.5% difference, meaning Mexico City has about 26% less resistance than sea level. At ~18.4%, balls in Denver already travel 5-10% farther, so we’re in about 15% territory in Mexico City.
In the 2000 Rockies version of Bonds, he has a home run rate of 6.8%. In real life, it was 6%. The projection has a 14.5% increase in career plate appearances (14,433) as a result of playing in the 2000 run environment. Fake home runs (988-762), triples (100-77), and doubles (778-601) all increased by about 30% compared to reality based on that 14.5% PA increase.
If 10% less friction/drag coefficient generates a 14.5% increase in plate appearances and 30% more in the counting stats, then I’m going to go with — again, because I’m a dumb blogger — a 15% increase leading to a 45% jump in counting stats off a 21.75% increase in plate appearances (if we’re saying that this Bonds projection is 1.5x more than the Baseball Reference one using just Coors Field).
A 15% increase instead might look something like this:
That’s a lot of dingers!
Silly? Pointless? Wrong? Poorly reasoned? Bad math? Not very entertaining? Where’s the humidor? Not real baseball? You were about to chuckle but then caught yourself? You have read this far and forgotten that the prompt for this ridiculousness was a video released by MLB Network yesterday? All valid responses.
If you’re a Giants fan, think of it as a metaphor for this past weekend.