How does weather impact a baseball game?

Weather
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With the Curve Home Opener less than a day away, let’s take a look at how weather can impact baseball.

Does a baseball travel farther on a dry day or on a humid day?

You make think that humid air is thicker, but a baseball will travel farther because humid air is less dense than dry air. This is because water molecules (H2O) are lighter than both nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) molecules.

Does a baseball travel farther in warm or cold air?

A baseball will travel farther in warm air than in cold air. This is because warm air has a lower density than cold air. At 95 degrees the air is 12 percent less dense than at 30 degrees. For example, if a home run travels 400 feet at 75 degrees, it would travel 408 feet at 95 degrees.

Do warm and cold air masses impact the pitcher’s grip?

Yes, each type of air mass impacts the pitcher’s grip. If it is warm and the pitcher is sweating a lot the ball can be harder to grip, sometimes prompting the use of a rosin bag. The cold air can also make it harder to grip the ball as the pitcher’s fingers can go slightly numb, that can lead to more walks.

Can high pressure and low pressure affect the distance of the baseball and the way the ball is pitched?

The area of low pressure allows the baseball to travel farther than an area of high pressure. This is because the air under the low pressure system is thinner and less dense than the air under an area of high pressure.

This also applies to areas of higher elevation as the air pressure is lower than at sea level. This is why the baseballs travel farther at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, which is approximately a mile above sea level. For example, if a homerun is hit 400 feet at sea level, it would travel 430 feet at Coors Field.

A pitcher who specializes in curveballs and sliders, called breaking balls, would rather have an area of high pressure or be closer to sea level. This is because breaking balls need the denser air to be able to change directions.

Can cloud cover make a difference for an outfielder?

Yes. Cloud cover can make a difference for an outfielder. A day with plenty of clouds can affect how the player sees the ball coming off the bat. While with a fly ball on a bright day with no clouds can cause problems with depth perception.

The most important question though. How much does wind impact the game?

Wind is the most important factor to a baseball game. The wind impacts the pitcher and the batter in both positive and negative ways. It can also make the outfielder’s job harder.

For the pitcher, if the wind is going toward home plate the ball will travel slightly faster. If the wind is traveling toward the pitching mound it will be slower, but breaking balls will move more. While a cross wind can move a fastball by a few inches.

For the batter, if the wind is traveling toward home plate the ball will travel a shorter distance making a home run harder to get. While if the wind is traveling toward the outfield, the ball will travel farther after it is hit, making the chance of a home run greater. A cross wind can mean the difference between a foul or fair ball for the batter.

The stadium architecture can create winds that are different than the outside air, such as the speed and the direction. So a swirling stadium wind can make an outfielder’s job of catching the ball harder.

Sources:  

http://www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints/285/
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/changes-in-air-density-can-aff/28805375
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2010/06/can_the_wind_make_strasburgs_f.html

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