MLB Handicapping: Weather a Major Factor
by Aaron Smith - 5/25/2010
If you are an avid football fan, or bet on the sport often, you know that weather is a major factor in determining the outcome of a football game. The average bettor is aware of that when betting on football, but at times, it seems that the large effect that weather can have on baseball games flies under the radar. Weather does matter when betting on baseball, and it matters in quite a few different ways.
One facet of the weather that plays a large role, but is often unnoticed, is the humidity. Most bettors realize that a ball hit in hot weather will travel farther than one hit in colder temperatures. The concept that can be tougher to grasp is that low humidity is actually the best possible scenario for the flight of the baseball. As the air gets more humid, the ball gets heavier and travels a little less in distance. If you are looking for a game to be high scoring, the best possible setup is a hot day with low humidity. Let’s take a look at a recent example of how those warm and dry days can drive up totals.
- Arizona is the perfect place for dry heat if they have the roof open at Chase Field. Over the past weekend, the roof was open for five straight days against both the Giants and the Blue Jays. The total number of runs scored in each of these games was 14,15,14,13, and 16. That is a remarkable statistic that made someone a lot of money on the ‘over’!
Wind is obviously crucial to the trajectory that the baseball will take both when pitched and hit. How much does it matter? Studies have shown that a ball hit 400 feet on a calm day would travel about 445 feet with a 15 miles per hour gust pushing it straight out. That’s a significant difference that you should definitely know about before placing your bet. Many bettors believe that a wind howling from the side will not alter the outcome of any wager, but that also is not true. Consider that a 10 mph wind from the side will cause the average fastball to end two to three inches off its target. Clearly, if there is a heavy wind from the side, it could be difficult for a pitcher to hit his spots.
The most important variable to remember is that each ballpark differentiates on how the weather will play a role. As a bettor, you need to make it a high priority to determine the quirks of each ballpark and find an edge. A good example is the crazy wind tunnel that occurs in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The layout of the field actually creates a situation where if the wind is blowing in from right field, the ball will fly out of the park much easier. Veteran bettors have taken advantage of this phenomenon for the last few years. A ballpark like Wrigley Field, in Chicago, is famous for the amazing effect of wind on the baseball. Nothing explains the importance of the wind at Wrigley better than the simple fact that oddsmakers aren’t even willing to put out an overnight total on games played at Wrigley. Some solid research will show most ballparks have their own weather related quirks that can really help you when considering your next baseball wager.
While it doesn’t get the attention in baseball that it does in football, weather means a great deal to betting on baseball. Totals are the best place where weather can change the outcome of a wager. The next time you are betting on a total, look at the humidity and the wind situation. In general, a cool and moist environment is good for the ‘under,’ and a warm and dry environment is good for the ‘over’. In the large majority of ballparks, wind that blows out will help the ball travel farther. However, one must remember that not all ballparks are created equal. In a sport where many bettors find difficulty staying ahead of the sportsbooks, weather could be the edge that you need!
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