How weather can help your baseball team win or lose
Factors such as precipitation, wind, humidity and elevation affect players and their gameplay.
Baseball is more than just a game. It’s a time for camaraderie, a time to witness comebacks and a time to feel the energy of the crowd when your team makes history.
That is, of course, weather permitting.
"Every single aspect of baseball ties back to weather in some way," said Kevin Roth, a meteorologist at Rotogrinders.com.
"It's really tied together, so it's really fun for a meteorologist to focus on that sport in particular," he added.
Here are five ways weather can sway the game.
Rain and snow
Baseball is very much at the mercy of the weather, particularly when it comes to precipitation.
According to Roth, unlike football and other outdoor games, baseball games are often delayed or canceled because of too much rain.
"Games get completely washed out," Roth said. "It happens all the time. We lose dozens and dozens of games to the rain."
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As much as rainouts can interrupt baseball games, so can the rare snow out.
"Sometimes they'll try to play in the snow, and it's beautiful, and it's like Christmas in April," Roth said. "But sometimes the snow is just too heavy, and they'll cancel games because of it."
Hot and cold
The air temperature can determine how far a ball can go.
According to Roth, when the air temperature is hot, the air is also thinner. This means there’s less resistance for a ball to move through.
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"If you're playing these games in really hot temperatures – 80 or 90 plus degrees in the dead of summer – that ball carries really well," he said. "You actually see an increase in runs scored during that time of year because all of these ballparks are playing in the heat."
In contrast, cold temperatures, particularly during early- and late-season games, make the air denser. This creates more resistance and prevents a ball from traveling as far.
"Those games are generally lower scoring because of that," Roth said.
Another weather factor that can create resistance is humidity.
"Even though it's counterintuitive, high humidity is actually less dense, than less humid air," Roth said. "So, really humid air is thinner and the ball will carry farther."
While high humidity may make for a sweaty, muggy experience for fans, it makes for an excellent game as it helps the ball sail out of the ballpark.
Wind can "obviously" also impact how a ball moves through the air, according to Roth.
"If you get powerful winds and those winds are blowing out to center, it's literally carrying that home run ball farther, so you're going to see more home runs," he said.
Conversely, wind can be a baseball player’s worst enemy.
"If you get the winds coming in from center and blowing towards the hitter, you can hit the ball really hard and that wind is just fighting it the whole way," Roth said. "What would have been a home run is all of a sudden just an easy out."
According to Roth, some ballparks are more susceptible to different kinds of wind.
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Wrigley Field in Chicago, an older stadium, is structured in a way that makes it particularly open to the wind. In contrast, the newer Oracle Park in San Francisco is built to block prevailing winds.
"So, where you're at and the microclimate that these different stadiums create can be fascinating the way the wind can swirl or impact some, but not impact others," Roth said.
Not only can the design of a stadium impact the outcome of a game, but also how high the stadium is.
"Elevation is a big factor," Roth said. "We see every year, year in and year out, Coors Field in Denver has among the most home runs in the league – and it's because of that elevation."
The Mile High City is a mile above sea level, so the air within it is thinner than air at lower elevations.
According to Roth, the thin air at Denver’s Coors Field allows baseballs to carry farther and lead to more home runs. Because of this, Coors Field has among the most home runs in the MLB.
"The amount of runs in these games can be a little ridiculous," he said. "They're waterlogging the ball, they're keeping it in a humidor and trying to make the ball more humid and heavier so that it doesn't carry as far — because in that stadium, it's going to go for a mile."
The weather provides the environmental framework for every baseball game.
"From a fan's perspective, from a player's perspective, from the game's perspective, weather has a hand in almost everything that happens from the distance to hits to how much a pitch will actually break on a curveball," Roth said. "Weather impacts all of that."