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Albuquerque’s altitude reputation has been earned

*Numbers adjusted for elevation.

Should the asterisk be attached to minor league baseball statistics accumulated in Albuquerque?

Recent rumors of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ intention to move their Triple-A affiliation to Oklahoma City next season have called Albuquerque into question.

How effective is the city in terms of evaluating minor league players?

Sunday night’s 11-inning 12-11 Isotopes win over Las Vegas notwithstanding, the Duke City has long held a reputation as a hitter’s haven and pitcher’s graveyard thanks to the city’s high altitude and frequent gusty winds.

The reputation has been earned, said Isotopes pitching coach Glenn Dishman.

“There’s no question that you can pitch well here and have bad results,” he said. “When you play at altitude sometimes good pitches end up being home runs.”

That fact was emphasized when a humidor was installed at Isotopes Park outside the visitors clubhouse prior to last season. The humidor is intended to counter the drying effects of climate on baseballs, evening the odds for pitchers and limiting the number of altitude-aided home runs.

Still, the ball flies in Albuquerque. Going into Sunday’s game, the Isotopes ranked second in the 16-team PCL with 167 home runs hit. Their pitchers ranked 15th in earned-run average at 5.51.

“The ball does fly here,” Isotopes manager Damon Berryhill said. “But I don’t think it stops you from evaluating talent. A lot of players have graduated from this place and performed perfectly well in the bigs – hitters and pitchers.”

Dishman agreed.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said, “because if you can learn to pitch here, you can pitch anywhere. This is not the only PCL park where the ball flies either.”

Dishman said part of this season’s high Albuquerque ERA can be attributed to playing more games in western ballparks like Las Vegas and Salt Lake where the ball carries, and fewer in pitcher friendly places like Nashville and New Orleans.

Still, Dishman believes the asterisk on Albuquerque numbers does apply.

“We’ve been saying, ‘We’ll he played in Albuquerque,’ for years,” Dishman said. “But how many years have the Dodgers been here? I’d say they’ve produced some outstanding pitchers. I think you can evaluate guys here just fine.”

AWARDS NIGHT: There was little or no suspense regarding who would be named MVP when the Isotopes announced their annual team awards prior to Sunday’s game. Outfielder Joc Pederson, who has posted the PCL’s first 30-30 (home runs, stolen bases) season in 80 years, was the winner.

Other player awards went to: outfielder Trayvon Robinson (most popular and top defensive player); outfielder Mike Baxter (Mr. Hustle); Jeff Bennett (top pitcher); Jamie Romak (top power hitter).

Pitchers Red Patterson and Rob Carson were named Most Community Minded by Isotopes front-office personnel.

WHO’S GOING UP? The Dodgers already have announced some of their September call-ups, and Isotopes Pederson, Tim Federowicz and Alex Guerrero will be heading for LA today. Other moves will be announced today.

The changes could make for an interesting Isotopes lineup today in the season finale against Las Vegas. Players who have been called up will leave prior to the 1:35 game.

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