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Sunny days favor the pitchers

May 4, 2011, 11:02 AM EDT

Roy Halladay AP

If it truly is always sunny in Philadelphia the Phils are going to have a better year than we thought, because that stuff favors the pitchers:

It turns out that batting averages go up when the sun ducks behind a cloud, according to a new study that looked at thousands of major league baseball games played between 1987 and 2002.

And hitting isn’t the only thing – the presence or absence of clouds affects baseball in all sorts of ways, from strikeouts to errors to which team wins, Wes P. Kent and Scott C. Sheridan report in an analysis published by the American Meteorological Society.

There’s a lot more date in the linked story. Seems this was all part of Kent’s master’s thesis in climatology.

In other news, I always smile when I see that people have managed to shoehorn baseball research into non-sports academic studies. You can almost picture them laughing to themselves and rubbing their hands together when they realize that the convinced their adviser to let ‘em get away with fun stuff like that.

  1. Jonny 5 - May 4, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    That’s funny because for his career (before 2011) Cole Hamels has like an additional + 1. something era for day games over night appearances. So I guess it effects people differently. I always figured it was people seeing his delivery better or something… I dunno. Interesting.

  2. halladaysbicepts - May 4, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    When I was a kid playing baseball, I always hated hitting when the sun was out. It’s harder to see the ball when sun glare gets in your eyes. Same goes for playing in the field. This study makes perfect sense. No surprise here.

    That being said, day games are always the best to watch in person at the ballpark.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - May 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Considering the Phillies are already 10-0 this year in day games, this guy may have a point.

  4. bigxrob - May 4, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    So, if that is the case, was there a statistically significant increase in batting averages as baseball transformed from a daytime only game to a mostly night time game in the middle of the last century?

    • bigxrob - May 4, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      And to continue my thought, is it directly related the the games being played at night or other factors, such as expansion?

  5. spudchukar - May 4, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I have seen similar stats before, but they baffle me. Unlike bicepts(which I assume means capability of having 2 ideas per diem), I always preferred the daylight. El Sol, certainly produces a more vivid viewing environment, than its aped electronic counterpart, so why the difference. It seems counter-intuitive. How do flyballs lost in the sun help pitchers? Why is there so much emphasis on the proverbial creeping late afternoon shadows? Maybe it has something to do with warmer air.

    And yes, day baseball is probably best, but the night has a splendor of its own. I am glad we have both.

    • halladaysbicepts - May 4, 2011 at 12:03 PM

      bicepts – 2 ideas per day…LOL!!!!!!

  6. APBA Guy - May 4, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    One of the things you have to allow for in studies like this is practice, ie, players play at night mostly now, and they are used to those conditions moreso than daylight. So the contributions of the daylight effects may be overstated unless you can standardize the groups into roughly equal “daylight” and “nightime” habituated players. Otherwise, some of the effect may be learning curve as about 70% of games played are night games, and players, even professionals, relearn/readjust playing in the sun.

    Anyway, the A’s like to schedule Gio during day games. For some reason, mainly because he says he likes it, he seems to do better in the daytime. And napping at an empty stadium is certainly more pleasant in the mid-afternoon sun.

  7. cktai - May 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    I once wrote an essay on the reception of sabermetrics by the general audience of a course on Science and the Public. I even quoted you Craig :D

    • cktai - May 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      for* a course

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