One thing that always baffled me was the lack of discussion on weather in general when it came to betting on baseball. During football season, you could not talk about a total and not have someone chime in with wind or a pending rain storm coming. The fact is, especially in football, to think the oddsmakers do not have the weather channel and factor all the above into the number is nieve. I am not claiming the lines and totals in baseball do not also account for weather conditions, BUT the various variables that effect everything from pitching to how far a ball will travel in no way are 100% accurate on the actuals numbers released for betting purposes. Without going into a full blow physics paper, here are some things to consider when handicapping MLB:
With the average wind velocity in the United States around 10 miles per hour, any variance can change a potential home run into an out. Using a potential 400 foot homerun in the air for our example, with the average 10 miles WITH the batter it will add up to an extra 30 feet to the that same 400 hit. On the flip side, if the wind (average of 10 miles) is blowing AGAINST the batter it will take about 30 feet off the same exact at-bat. So just using the average wind velocity and not anything outside of the norm, the 400 foot hit will either go 430 OR 370 feet depending on the conditions. That is a big difference, either a home run or an out. Even a small change of + or - 5 miles per hour either way jumps the change up to 45 feet using our example, or a 400 foot hit now going 445 feet.
Looking at air coming side to side of the ball (crosswinds) and not front or back, at 10 miles per hour it will blow a fastball off its target by up to 3 inches. The crosswind effect has even a greater effect on pitchers who tend to throw curveballs and knuckleballs.
With the air density lower, the ball will travel further. With everything 100% equal except the air density, the same hit in Denver will go 9% further versus it being hit in New York. So if someone can hit the ball 400 feet in New York, it would go around 436 feet when playing at the Rockies.
Professional handicappers I have known in the past have used the complex breakdown of weather to kill MLB totals. Besides beating totals, taking the time to know the pitcher in conjunction with the weather is a very dangerous tool if perfected when betting MLB. For example, Pitcher A with the same exact fastball would reach the catchers mitt quicker in Denver versus the same everything in Yankee stadium. In the event of being a pitcher who may use a curveball, he is better off in New York because in Denver it will break on average 3 inches less due to conditions. Experts in the field have estimated the infielders range decreases a foot or so and the outfielders about nine feet when you compare high elevation against a sea level ballpark.
Many of the weather sites now offer "sports weather" pages that show the stadium and conditions over the game. Taking advantage of changes on air or density conditions after the lines are released can be a valuable asset. Maybe conditions are optimal for hitting early in the game, but not the full 9 innings, which can be translated into an edge on betting the 1st 5 innings.
If you want to really become a nerd on this stuff, check out Robert Adair's “The Physics of Baseball. He is a Yale physicist who wrote an entire book on baseball and the relationship of physics on the game.
With baseball season upon us, I will try and add more "Basebal Betting Tips" in the coming weeks.
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