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Monday, April 11, 2005

The Hangover Effect

Because I'll be scoring games at Coors Field this season I've been interested in studies that have done on the "Coors Field Effect" and theories on how to win at altitude. Perhaps the first, and most prevalent, of the theories is that Rockies players suffer from a "hangover" effect when they go on the road, accounting for their poor road performance. For example, an article on Slate published last April summed it up this way:

"Rockies hitters-usually struggling hitters-claim that the team is penalized by a hangover effect, where playing at high altitude leaves them ill-prepared to go on the road again and face snapping breaking pitches."

The article goes on to reference the 2000 Baseball Prospectus article by Rany Jazayerli and Keith Woolner that concluded there was no hangover based on data from 2000. I was in the midst of running the numbers myself for 2003 and 2004 when I ran into these articles and so I'll simply publish my results as support for the conclusion that a hangover effect probably does not exist.


2004 G AB H TB BB AVG SLUG OBP OPS
Road
1st game 18 450 126 228 46 0.280 0.507 0.347 0.853
others 63 2335 559 894 211 0.239 0.383 0.302 0.685
total 81 2785 685 1122 257 0.246 0.403 0.310 0.713
Home
1st game 13 456 141 242 64 0.309 0.531 0.394 0.925
others 68 2336 705 1172 242 0.302 0.502 0.367 0.869
total 81 2792 846 1414 306 0.303 0.506 0.372 0.878
162 5577 1531 2536 563 0.275 0.455 0.341 0.796

2003
Road
1st game 15 511 125 188 56 0.245 0.368 0.319 0.687
others 66 2258 538 887 234 0.238 0.393 0.310 0.703
total 81 2769 663 1075 290 0.239 0.388 0.312 0.700

Home
1st game 14 498 149 266 53 0.299 0.534 0.367 0.901
others 67 2251 660 1117 276 0.293 0.496 0.370 0.867
total 81 2749 809 1383 329 0.294 0.503 0.370 0.873
162 5518 1472 2458 619 0.267 0.445 0.341 0.786

As you can see, in both 2003 and 2004 the Rockies actually hit better for average in the first game of a road trip than they did in subsequent games although in 2003 their OPS was slightly lower. They also hit better in the first game of homestands for whatever its worth. In any case, there taking these two seasons there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe in the hangover effect as it pertains to first games of series. Of course, that doesn't mean that the hangover might not be persistent for the entire road trip. However, that would be pretty much indistinguishable from the thesis that the Rockies hitters are simply below average, a fact that Coors Field masks.

1 comment:

David said...

I would think that leaving Coors and going to a lower altitude would help the hitters. They have to feel stronger getting the proper amount of oxygen.