By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – The conditions in Denver for the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby were prime for record-breaking performances on Monday.

Since the days of the Blake Street Bombers, Coors Field has been known by fans and players alike as one of the best hitter’s ballparks. Dr. Peter Hamlington, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and an expert in fluid dynamics, said the science proves Denver is a hitter’s paradise.

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“Coors Field should definitely be considered a hitting park,” Hamlington said.

Hamlington tells CBS4 our altitude really is an advantage, no matter how sick fans are of hearing about it.

“The atmospheric air density is about 20% less at altitude than it is at sea level, and what this results in is less air resistance on batted balls,” Hamlington said. “Estimates typically cite an increase in distance of 5-10%.”

According to Hamlington, Denver’s dry air also makes balls lighter and bouncier, which is why in 2002 the Rockies began storing balls in a humidor.

“This causes the baseball to be slightly heavier and be slightly less bouncy than a perfectly dry ball,” he said.

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“When they switched from non-humidor stored balls to humidor stored balls in 2002, home runs at Coors Field reduced by about 25%.”

On Monday, the balls used did not spend time in the infamous humidor, leaving room for measuring tape home runs.

In the first round of the derby, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story hit a 518-foot home run, breaking the previous record of 513 feet held by Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. The record was broken again about 20 minutes later, when Nationals outfielder Juan Soto hit a 520-foot home run.

Hamlington said one hindrance to the players’ ability to hit the ball far could have been the smoky air, caused by several wildfires around the western U.S.

“(They) will be dealing with the effects of altitude, and then if you throw on top of that poor air quality, that may impact their performance,” Hamlington said.

Ahead of the event, Hamlington said record-breaking home runs were highly possible, and the conditions were set for an exciting derby.

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“This will be, in some sense, a perfect test of which of these competing conditions dominates, and whether, as we all expect, we really do see a record-breaking night.”

Conor McCue