Commentary

How air density affects pitchers

One age-old tool predicts slugger success better than cutting-edge stats

Originally Published: July 1, 2014
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

NumbersJason Schneider for ESPNBaseball is full of advanced stats that try to predict pitcher performance.

CLUBHOUSE ATMOSPHERE MATTERS baseball teams -- literally. Thanks to Rodney Paul, a professor of sport management at Syracuse University, and the Syracuse Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club, we are beginning to understand how the air around us affects pitchers -- and how teams can take advantage of the results.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.