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Weather Concerns

Handicapping Baseball: Weather Concerns

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

Bad weather, like rain, will lead to a delay or rain-out in baseball, but that doesn't mean there aren't weather concerns in this sport. It's a long season, spanning a divergent span of months in terms of weather. You will see games played in freezing weather to scorching heat, to everything in between.

First of all--these are professionals. Not every player who is on a team from a cold climate is going to melt in the heat of Southern California. And not every player from a warm-weather team is going to freeze and lock up in the biting cold of stadiums back east. These guys didn't get to where they are by letting weather determine how well they play. That doesn't mean, however, that weather won't play a role.

The first time weather can get funky for players in that first spring heat. Players from around the league are accustomed to the pleasant weather of spring and then around mid or late-May, it jumps up a notch. Weather in the high 60's or low 70's can start jumping into the 90's on the west coast.

So if you have a team from back east coming to San Diego, Phoenix, Anaheim or LA in late-May when the weather gets much warmer, you can see those visiting teams struggle. A team from back east will suddenly find themselves in a day game in California where it's 90-something degrees. It's been 9 months since they felt weather that hot. By the time teams are in the middle of summer, they've had a chance to get accustomed to the heat. But some of those late-May day games on the west coast can come as a shock to the system for some teams. It's not unusual for them to be playing in a game where it's suddenly 20 degrees hotter than anything they've seen all year. Those teams could be a little lethargic as a result.


Keep an eye out for heat waves in May. If it's 95 degrees in San Diego and the Mets are in town, they might be thrown for a loop. In a 3-game series, look for the day game and see if there aren't edges we can get betting on the home team, which should be more suited to the heat.

It works the other way too. Late in the season, you can start seeing some wildly divergent temperature readings from around the league. In late-September and especially in the postseason, some parts of the country are still scorching, while others are cooling down. It's not so much the heat or cold we're focusing on--it's the fluctuation. It's the lack of acclimation. If a team is playing ball for a 10 days in 80-something degree weather, it's not always an easy adjustment to suddenly find yourself playing in weather that is downright chili.

Late in the year and in the postseason, you can start to see some cold weather. Countless players, particularly pitchers, have been thrown for a loop by going from warm to cold weather. It can be hard on their arms, going from the deep heat bake of California to the biting cold of Detroit or the Bronx.

Late in the year, look for crazy temperature fluctuations. If a home team is from a hot weather city and going to where it's cold, look for possible clues. What if the pitcher is a kid from the heat of the Dominican Republic? He played in the minors in a warm weather area and all his appearances in the big leagues just happened to be in hot or simply normal weather. Then all of a sudden, he's throwing an important game and it's in the 30's.

This doesn't mean to just go ahead and bet against any pitcher in this situation. At the same time, if you were inclined to make a bet on a team and you noticed some of these weather considerations, it could make you rethink your position.

While weather in baseball is not as much a factor as in football, it is indeed a consideration. Sometimes you will see a team is markedly sluggish or a normally smooth-sailing pitcher is getting rocked. Power hitters aren't able to drive balls with thick humidity and marine layers. Pitchers arms might freeze up between innings in a cold ballpark. Don't wait to see it, try to preempt it. Keep tabs on the weather so you don't unwittingly bet on a game where the climate is as much an enemy as the other team.

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