Using Weather to your Advantage (Fantasy Baseball)

by Brad Workman
Mar 19, 2017

Weather plays a role in sports and their outcomes, and not just in adverse weather conditions. Even in seemingly perfect conditions (75°F and sunny), the effects of weather on baseball can be important. The purpose of this primer is to provide you with the knowledge to use the weather – both good and bad – to your advantage.

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Temperature

Temperature is often the most important weather factor to consider when setting your DFS lineups. From a hitter’s perspective, with all other factors equal, batted balls travel further in warmer conditions for two main reasons:

  • Reduced density of air. Air molecules in warm air are spaced farther apart than in cold air, which reduces the drag on baseballs in flight.
  • Increased “bounce” in the baseball. As temperatures drop, baseballs become stiffer and exit velocity suffers. As temperatures increase, the baseball “relaxes,” and exit velocity increases.

Colder temperatures also affect the human body, reducing reaction and movement times. This is where it is important to consider the match-up alongside the weather. If your hitter is facing someone throwing in the low-90s, this is not as big of a deal as it would be if your hitter was facing someone throwing in the upper-90s.

From a pitcher’s perspective, warmer temperatures may allow the baseball to travel further, but it is easier to grip a baseball when it is warm. When the ball gets cold, it becomes slick and grip becomes an issue. This can reduce control while reduction in reaction/movement times can reduce velocity. Pitchers that rely on a mid-to-upper 90s fastball will be able to minimize the effects of cold temperatures, while pitchers that rely more on command and off-speed may struggle just a bit more. The warmer the weather, the better the conditions for pitching (to an extent – extreme temperatures can increase fatigue and shorten outings).

Wind

From a hitter’s perspective, you want the wind blowing out in their preferred direction. For instance, if you have an extreme pull hitter, the wind blowing out to his pull side will generate better results than the wind blowing out to his opposite-field side. It is also important to keep in mind that cross winds, while not technically blowing out, can still provide some help if the batted ball is pushed towards the corner (shorter fence), but can hurt if the ball is pushed towards the alleys (deeper fence).

The wind blowing in is your pitcher’s friend, especially if he is a fly-ball pitcher. With that said, all is not lost if the wind is blowing out. Pitchers that induce more ground-balls can minimize the effect of the wind blowing out. Just like you play match-ups between players to find advantages, you can also play match-ups between players and weather conditions to find other advantages.

Humidity

Contrary to conventional wisdom, humid air is better for hitters than dry air. As humidity increases, the density of air decreases. This reduces drag on the baseball, allowing it to travel farther than an equally struck baseball in less humid conditions.

For pitchers, the effect of humidity on baseball flight is a give-and-take. Yes, drier air is better for pitchers due to the increased drag on a baseball in flight, but drier air also provides less grip for pitchers. This can be problematic for control and sharpness of breaking balls. If your pitcher relies more on fastball/changeup, drier air will provide more positive effects than if your pitcher relies on breaking balls and pinpoint control.

Altitude

While not technically a “weather” factor, I would be remiss if I did not mention altitude. With all other factors being equal, from a hitter’s perspective, the higher the altitude the better. Air at higher altitudes is less dense than the air at lower altitudes, reducing drag on baseballs in flight. This increases distance on fly-balls and line-drives, and is a big reason why Coors Field produces some of the most inflated offensive statistics year in and year out.

On the other side of the coin, less dense air can be problematic for pitchers. It can reduce the bite on their breaking balls which can lead to more hard contact, which feeds directly into the problem with increased distance on batted balls.

I hope that you find these weather tips helpful and they allow you to take advantage of weather conditions. Good luck to all of you this season.


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Brad Workman is a correspondent for FantasyPros. You can follow him on Twitter @SensibleWeather and check out more sports weather information on his website www.sensibleweather.com.

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