Colorado Rockies: Five years later, has the Bridich Barrier worked?

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 15: David Dahl #26 of the Colorado Rockies hits a first inning RBI double off of Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals during a game at Coors Field on August 15, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 15: David Dahl #26 of the Colorado Rockies hits a first inning RBI double off of Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals during a game at Coors Field on August 15, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Five seasons ago, the Colorado Rockies created “Bridich Barrier,” adding height to the wall in right-center and intending to decrease home runs and increasing triples in Coors Field.

They hoped this would give the struggling pitching staff more opportunities to work their way out of tough situations. The raised right-center field wall (coined the “Bridich Barrier” by Rockies shortstop Trevor Story) is not one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts of Coors Field, and many have questioned its impact, including the GM that installed it, Jeff Bridich.

What impact has the “Bridich Barrier” has had on the Colorado Rockies and games at Coors Field?

First, let’s look at something else that drastically changed Coors Field: the humidor.

Introducing the humidor in 2002 corresponded with an immediate decrease in Coors Field’s offensive production. Average home OPS dropped from a staggering .935 from 1995 to 2001 to a much lower average OPS of .847 in the corresponding years after. Now, this decrease could be explained as the Rockies fielding worse teams, except stats dropped across the board, including among the visiting teams to the ballpark.

The humidor’s first years saw a huge decrease in home runs per game across the entire ballpark (-23.9%), including an even larger decrease in the right-center field position that the “Bridich Barrier” is in today (-32.2%).

I can see you commenting now. “Home runs decreased across the league in the 2000s,” … and you are right, they did. From 2002 to 2008, the league saw a 2.9 percent decrease in home runs per game as compared to the pre-humidor years, far less than the decrease at Coors Field. Heck, that around half of the league’s decrease would be the humidor in Coors Field.

So, how does the humidor installation compare to the installation of the “Bridich Barrier?” Well, the change is not as drastic, but there seems to be a statistically significant difference between before the Rockies put the barrier up and the years since.

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Home runs have increased at Coors Field by about 16 percent, this is actually almost half the rate that home runs have risen league-wide, where going the distance has increased by nearly 30 percent . Non-ground ball triples have also increased overall at Coors, seeing about an 8.6 percent increase since they have installed the barrier. This, however, is contradictory to the league-wide trend of decreasing non-ground ball triples, which have gone down by 8.5 percent when compared to the pre-“Bridich Barrier” years.

“So what?” You might wonder, “There are countless variables that could cause this. Nothing you have said has directly linked the Bridich Barrier to the statistics presented.” And you are right. So finally, we are looking at where these balls are being hit and what that means for the impact of the “Bridich Barrier.”

Looking at the right-center field section of the field, something pops out. It appears the “Bridich Barrier” is having the desired effect. The Rockies offense has seen an increase in both home runs and non-ground ball triples in that location, increasing by about 8.1 percent and three percent, respectively. This shows a minimal effect on the home team’s offense. This is very different when looking at the other side of the ball.

Away team statistics is where the “Bridich Barrier” really shows its worth. Home runs in the right-center field location have decreased for the away teams by 4.2 percent, despite the league-wide increase in dingers. This corresponds to the 69.6% increase in triples being by the away team in the location.

Now I might be getting everyone a little too excited about this. The barrier has been something that helps the struggling pitchers afflicted with a severe case of being in a hitter-friendly park. But now, some perspective. While the “Bridich Barrier” has created the desired effect of helping the Rockies pitching, it has been minimal in the advantage it provides. This wall has probably only netted around 20 runs for the team (that’s assuming that the player who has a triple does not score that inning). This calculates to saving about 0.06 runs per game, but hey, every advantage helps.

Five seasons in, has the “Bridich Barrier” been worth it? It depends on how you look at it. The barrier has done what they designed it for, helping the Rockies. The extent to which it has helped is admittedly minimal, and it is a bit of an eyesore on the beautiful stadium, not really meshing well with its surroundings. However, should an advantage be removed, especially a measurable one? Without the barrier, would Game 163 in 2018 ever happen? In sports, the minor advantages, the little things, provide the chance for once-in-a-lifetime events, and isn’t that worth it?

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Statistics for this article were found using Stathead and a huge shout-out to Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) for helping me come up with and developing this article.

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