Friday, October 26, 2007
In a nutshell, playing baseball in:
Higher altitude means thinner air, and thinner air means less friction to slow down thrown or batted balls, or to make curveballs curve.
In other words, everything is faster and straighter - pitches and balls in play. Hence, pitchers that feature a good fastball and change up have an advantage, hitters that struggle with breaking stuff should do better in Denver and fielders with range are more valuable commodities.
The Rockies have a home field advantage over the Sox although it is not as much as many would like for you to believe. The Sox two best players - Manny and Ortiz – are significantly less valuable than Helton and Holliday in Denver. Manny and Ortiz’s lack of range could come back to hurt the Sox, most notably in Game 4 when Lester a non-strikeout pitcher is starting.
Two of the Sox four main relievers throw a curveball. Delcarmen uses the deuce and change equally as off speed pitches. The other Manny will likely feature the change more in Denver; not a big deal. Okajima throws the curve to southpaws over a quarter of the time. He may have to make an adjustment if he get called upon for Helton (Hawpe is terrible against lefties - 214/283/397.)
The Sox strikeout/fastball starters (Dice-K and Beckett) should minimize the probability that the club’s lack of range will be exploited. (It would be a mistake to keep Big Papi, one of the most dominate bats in the game, on the bench.) Jon Lester’s start is another story, who’s best pitch is arguably the curve. Game four doesn’t look as favorable for the Olde Towne Team but the picture in Denver is not as grim as many will make it seem.