Does Cold Weather Provide Value for MLB Over/Under Bettors?
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Winter just won’t end. A cold wave and rounds of snow are expected across the Midwest and Northeast through Sunday with record low temperatures possible per the Weather Chanel. This is bad news for baseball fans as artic weather and the boys of summer do not mix.
The cold impacts hitting in the majors. Using data from beyondtheboxscore.com from 1990-2013, we see that batting averages drop as temperatures decline.
If you assume this leads to decreased scoring, you’re correct. Below are the average runs scored in all MLB games from 2005-2016 using data from Bet Labs.
There is more than a run difference between games played in temperatures below 50 degrees and games with temperatures over 90 degrees. Over the next few days, nine games are forecasted to take place in near freezing temperatures. If scoring decreases in cold weather, should bettors wager on the under?
In general, it is true that scoring decreases as temperatures drop, but that hasn’t made the under a profitable bet. In fact, the over has gone 68-61-8 (53%) in games with temperatures below 40 degrees.
In the chart above, we see that runs scored trend in the same direction as temperature (down), until we get below 50 degrees and then scoring begins to increase. Possible explanations for the change are that colder temperatures make it more difficult for pitchers to grip the baseball, causing command to become an issue. The frosty conditions could add another element of variance to the game which increases the likelihood scoring.
Whatever the reason, in the last 10 seasons the over has gone 43-33-3 (57%) in games played in cold weather (40 degrees or cooler). When a majority of bets are on the under, the over has gone 13-8-1 (62%).
This is a small sample and I’m not suggesting that you blindly bet the over when temperatures dip below 40 degrees. But if the public assumes scoring will be limited because of cold weather, contrarian bettors could find value on the over.
Upcoming Cold Weather Games:
- Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners (Thursday): temperature projected to be 32 degrees
- Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (Thursday): temperature projected to be 35 degrees
- Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals (Friday): temperature projected to be 37 degrees
- Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves (Friday): temperature projected to be 31 degrees
- Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets (Saturday): temperature projected to be 36 degrees
- New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (Saturday): temperature projected to be 34 degrees
- Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Saturday): temperature projected to be 33 degrees
- St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (Saturday): temperature projected to be 33 degrees
- Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers (Saturday): temperature projected to be 33 degrees
Note: Forecasts change so be sure to check our free weather page at Sports Insights for updates.
Pictured: Minnesota Twins outfielders