Handicapping Weather Effect on MLB Picks & Betting Odds

Kevin Stott

Friday, April 3, 2015 2:03 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 3, 2015 2:03 PM GMT

Much is made about Weather Forecasts when handicapping MLB games, but it’s important to realize MLB Odds makers build this information into their lines, as do so-called Wise Guys.

Talk of Weather and Effect on MLB Totals Often Much Adieu About Nothing?
Everybody's talking about Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, this-ism, that-ism, Ism ism ism, all we are saying, is give it a friggin break with the Weather Forecast and the Totals hype when betting MLB maybe? Certain ballparks like Wrigley Field in Chicago and Coors Stadium in Denver certainly have their quirks and nuances when it comes to the 81 games played there over a given 162-game MLB schedule every season, the three main players in this picture of Sports Gambling—the MLB odds makers, who create the numbers we bet into; the Sportsbooks who post and take the bets; and, the Wiseguys (professional bettors) who usually are the first to bet into the lines when they come out (seeking not only both the best number, but also to create potential hedging or overlap situations)—are the ones who really need to know about Weather and the ones who have either the most liability or the most to gain from finding a perceived “hole” in any given MLB Total. By the actual time that either you or I—John Q. Public—usually get a crack at it, an individual MLB Total is usually right where it should be. Just like most things in most marketplaces (except razorblades). Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, holes in oddsmakers’ lines and varying Totals existed in the MLB betting marketplaces, but with the advent of Computers and the Internet, bookmakers at the Milky Way Hilton on Jupiter’ Moon Callisto probably know of any MLB Totals changes 3 seconds after the bookmakers here on Planet Earth have already done it. The Internet has made us all one and ruined us all at the same time. Thanks, Al Gore. We never wanted to go outside again anymore, anyway.

And so, if you think you have some deep advantage because you saw Tom Skilling on WGN say on Tuesday night that a big front is on the way to Chicagoland and you want to be all sly like that and get a jump on it and bet the Under on Wednesday’s game, perceiving this forecasted front will keep scoring down (or help it), then you must first realize that your perceived edge has been built into that 7½ or 11 or whatever Total number it is the sportsbooks hang up. Weather, and perceptions of exactly what it’s going to be like on any given day and what kind of effect it will have on a Number set by grown men in A Game played by grown men is like trying to figure out which leaf will be the next one to fall from a tree. Things are constantly changing (in Life as well as Weather and Sports) and what we think is going to happen next often doesn’t. Instead of having Weather be such a big part of one’s MLB handicapping arsenal—unless a fan of a given team and actually living (and paying attention) in that MLB marketplace—one would be better off using that precious Time to chart and learn which teams actually play good in which Road stadiums and which teams have played good against other teams over the past 2-6 years or so. Forecasted temperature, humidity, precipitation and wind speeds and directions and the other various things a Weatherman tells you about what the weather should be like (usually the next day) at a given ballpark are definitely a part of the whole handicapping picture. And, granted, Weather is probably just as important an element in betting MLB Totals than any other sport—including the NFL (and College Football)—but always remember this: That Weather Forecast is already baked into the cake you’re thinking about cutting a piece of and eating.

And if you really do go to the school where Weather and betting MLB Totals because of the real weather that is happening in the real world at the real ballparks, I strongly suggest betting this wonderful sport Live In-Game, as then you will be looking at exactly what the real Weather conditions (temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, sunlight/shadows, real wind speed/direction/affect on balls) is literally like for the players. And the line (Total, or its juice) for a MLB game won’t usually that drastically different from either the Opening or Closing Total posted for the individual game. Hype ruins everything these days.

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Where Weather Can Be Deceiving or Have Biggest Effects on MLB Gamblers
When weather forecasts come out for individual MLB games, they are usually accompanied by various predicted Wind Speeds and Directions, and to me, this is where some value could lie in the Forecasts. But it’s important to note that weather is such a massive variable from minute-to-minute and from ballpark-to-ballpark, and that a Forecast which predicts Wind Speeds of 25-35 from the SSW could (and quite often do) have moments when the wind is either gusting more than the forecasted range, or possibly not even blowing at all. And if the forecast is for SSE Winds of 30-40 mph at Wrigley Field, and bettors perceive baseballs flying out of the park in RF and choose to bet the Over, and then the Winds are actually like 6 mph for the majority of the game on Chicago’s North Side and the Wind Direction is actually NNW, then what? Do you sue the Weatherman? We’re talking about The Weather here.

In his book “The Physics of Baseball,” author Robert Adair wrote that every 1 mph of Tailwind can add up to 3 feet to the 400-foot flight of a baseball. But how does one measure something as inconsistent and unique as Tailwind? And the actual game Temperature and day’s Atmospheric Pressure may often be as important, or even more important than the aforementioned Wind Speeds. For example, Atmospheric Pressure is very low in the Mile High City of Denver, making it much easier for baseballs to carry and go out—and kicked footballs to carry farther in the very Thin Air of Denver—of Coors Field. But if you look at Totals from Coors Field (and often the delays in posting MLB Totals from both there and Wrigley Field), you can see the Weather built into the daily odds for Rockies games. And with Temperature, baseballs fly farther in Warm Air (because it’s less dense) compared to Cold Air, but one can tell by simply analyzing Totals in Colorado games that the Atmospheric Pressure probably actually outweighs the actual Temperature, as ball fly out in Coors Field even when the temperature is in the 30s, 40s and 50s—perceived as ‘Cold’ by the majority of mammals on this planet. Baseballs soar much farther when it’s 70°, 80° and 90° out than they do when it’s 50° or below. And hands holding the bats sting way less (after contact) when the weather is warm, meaning Cold-Enough Weather is probably reason enough to lean Under, especially early on in an MLB season when it’s still Spring, players haven’t worked all the Rust out and Pitchers probably do kind of hold some strange seasonal advantage, at least for some time.

 

Where to Find Good Weather Information for MLB
The local news seems like the best tool for MLB handicappers to use, but trying to watch the local news for 15 different cities before games is impossible, so searching for good information and using the Internet and Reliable Connections is the best way to gather Weather information for your Totals (or even game) handicaps. One tool on the Internet which does appear to have a comprehensive and decent way of letting MLB bettors actually visualize the coming Weather conditions is at Baseball-Weather.com, but a friend who follows the MLB and handicaps the sport quite closely, and who, by the way feels that Weather may have more of an effect on MLB Totals (in some instances) than I do, suggests both DailyBaseballData.com as solid Sources to check with when handicapping MLB Totals. And the thing about finding out forecasted Weather Information the night before a game is that it that the actual weather itself is constantly changing, so any Totals bets made on individual MLB games are probably best made immediately after the Opening Odds are posted or right before the First Pitch. And if the Weather (and its related elements) are a massive part of your Totals and MLB handicap, betting In-Game seems a wiser route as there you can theoretically always be making betting decisions in that actual Weather in which the game is actually being played, and not some perception in your head of a random Weatherman’s forecast or some words and/or numbers some dude wrote down on a website.

For me, the biggest part of trying to use Weather in a given MLB handicap would be to use it to try to find those unique situations in which the Total is about to rise or drop a ½ run (or sometimes in rare instances 1 run or more)—and you don’t know that’s going to happen until after it’s already happened—and having a better (perceived) Totals Number than the rest of the betting public. For example, you hear that it won’t be so bad, conditions-wise in Denver (Coors Field), so you bet the Over at 9½ and then oddsmakers move the Total to 10. Then the Rockies end up winning the game 7-3 and you end up winning this theoretical while other Over bettors who have 10 end up pushing their wagers. The little things.

In my mind, the people who would have the best grasp on Weather’s effects on an individual coming scheduled game would be the Gambling Superfans who live in those cities and follow their teams (and the weather, living in it and seeing the local forecasts) on a daily basis. In short, if you live in Denver or Chicago and are used to the Weather Patterns, you’re a better source of what the Weather and its potential effects may have on a given game. And one thing which does seem to be clear watching the Weather over the past two to three years on this planet of ours is that there is much more precipitation in the air, meaning that the balls should be a bit ‘heavier,’ the ground a little more saturated, both presumably good for Unders. But there are 30 MLB teams with 30 different ballparks, and the season is played over three different seasons, so, all of the variables which could go into handicapping MLB Totals could possibly overwhelm the overthinking sports gambler who is just making small bets or trying to enjoy sports betting on a recreational level.

 

Conclusions
My conclusions? Don’t overemphasize forecasts, public opinion or any line movement too much in trying to use Weather’s impact on betting MLB Totals. Weather is baked into the oddsmakers posted Number, and serious bettors have likely already bet into in this marketplace, refining the number in its evolutionary odds way, so your and my John Q. Public Perceptions of the Number oddsmakers have hung on a given MLB game are simply perceptions of a Number which others who do this for a living have posted, combined with betting action (and movement) from a decent percentage of professional bettors. So, the perception of what The Weather—in the context of the Forecast for the specific site where the MLB game is scheduled to be played the next day—is already built into the Total for MLB games. And it’s the same exact thing in the NFL, but something with which gamblers of the NBA, NHL and Soccer (luckily?) don’t have to contemplate. Unless Janitor Bill at the Oklahoma City Thunder game decides to blast the Air Conditioning down to 47° Fahrenheit, creating his own little Indoor Weather. What? You never know these days.

And, combined with our own our own perceptions of what kind of effect The Weather will have on a given MLB game over a given 3-hour period, we’re basically talking about betting on our perceptions of their perceptions—but isn’t that what Sports Betting really is when you break it down to its’ core? And Perceptions seldom lock up with what Reality are in my experience. Weather Science has never been better, and MLB bettors have never had the kind of wonderful information at their disposal as they do now—being able to see forecasted storms, Wind Speeds, Precipitation, Humidity and all, but the best Totals bettors are probably either the ones that get to the Opening line first or those who choose to bet the sport Live In-Game. And with its often tortoise-like pace, the MLB game is ideal for In-Game gamblers, with plenty of Time to analyze and fire and almost as many games (162) as the other three major American sports—NFL (16), NBA (82) and NHL (82)—combined.

The 2015 Major League Baseball season gets underway this Sunday night when the Chicago Cubs (23/1 to win World Series, bet365) welcome the St. Louis Cardinals (+1300, Bwin) to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field (ESPN2, 8:05 p.m. ET/5:05 p.m. PT) for what is sure to be a memorable Opening Night, with new Cubs-signee John Lester (16-11 in 2014 with Athletics, 2.46 ERA) scheduled to get the start against Redbirds ace Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA in 2014). Welcome back, old friend. It’s been awhile.

MLB FUTURES PICK: MLB Futures Odds Cardinals-Indians World Series Matchup, 95/1 (5Dimes)

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