The weather is heating up, and so are the Yankees. Surely you’ve heard that the ball tends to travel better when it’s warmer out. But just how much better? Newcomer Giancarlo Stanton has gotten off to a relatively slow start, but will the summer temperatures help the slugger get back on track?
Brandon Koch and Anna Panorska of the University of Nevada conducted a study and published a paper that looked at over 20,000 games from the regular seasons spanning 2000-2011. They categorized the temperatures during the games into three buckets: “cold”, “average”, and “warm.” Stadiums with permanent roofs were excluded. Here are some of the most interesting insights gleaned from the study:
First, the piece dove into how a baseball will typically leave the bat at a lower speed in colder weather than in warmer weather. The reason for this is because the actual temperature of the ball would be colder, and thus its coefficient of restitution, a factor that measures the ratio of speeds before and after impact, is lower as well. Additionally, human reaction times are decreased when it’s more frigid outside, leading to batters potentially not having their ideal timings down.
Now on to some of the actual numbers. There were a lot of interesting insights, but I chose to highlight a few.
A.L. vs. N.L.
It turns out that from this study, American League teams saw a much larger increase in offensive production from “cold” to “warm” weather than did National League teams. For example, as seen in the table below, runs scored increased by about 20 percent in the A.L. vs. only about 7 percent in the N.L. Home runs increased in the A.L. by 35 to 46 percent vs. 21 to 29 percent in the N.L.
How does this relate specifically to the Yankees? According to this study, playing in the American League will somehow allow them to truly see a spike in their offensive numbers as the weather heats up. Furthermore, as seen in the table below, being the home team at Yankee Stadium, they saw some of the largest increases in many of the categories of any team in the league.
As we are already starting to witness, this team will become more and more dangerous offensively as the season wears on. And now here is some data to reinforce this notion. Currently amid a six-game winning streak, we are starting to see glimpses of players such as Gary Sanchez and Stanton breaking out. Even without those two clicking yet, the team still leads the league in runs scored and home runs.
As the study mentions, batted fly balls hit in cooler temperatures of up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit traveled approximately sixteen feet less than those hit in temperatures of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So that means sluggers like Aaron Judge can only perhaps hit the ball 479 feet instead of 495.
All in all, the weather is heating up, the Yankees are heating up, and it should only get more fun from here.