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April Weather: Cool Weather and Cold Bats

   by Bryan Leonard - 04/04/2008

So how did the Royals sweep the Tigers? Detroit couldn’t hit! Despite all that offensive power the Tigers have on paper, they struggled to score runs. If you look at the third full day of baseball last Thursday, the unders started out 7-1 that day. All of which is not uncommon this time of the year.

From a handicapping perspective the cooler April weather adds a key dimension. One is that it’s tougher to hit a baseball in cold weather, which is why the old baseball expression is that offenses heat up along with the summer weather. That’s been the case with a bunch of low scoring games in cold cities.

This happened last year, too, as it was even colder the first week of the season. In April 0f 2007 the Phillies traveled to the Mets as old lefties Tom Glavine and Jammie Moyer hooked up. It was 44 degrees in a 5-3 Mets win, the game going under the total. That same night it was 57 degrees in Baltimore. The Royals and Orioles couldn’t muster any offense in a 2-1 Baltimore win – in 10 innings! The same night in Atlanta it was practically a heat wave, 66 degrees, as the Nationals and Braves squared off. The final score? 2-0 Washington, another game going under.

In fact, you may recall the Indians first series in 2007 was snowed out as the Indians had to play their home opener in Milwaukee, because of the snow. “It think it was the best solution because of the condition of the field and the weather forecast here for the next couple of days,â€쳌 said Indians manager Eric Wedge at the time. The frigid weather and blizzard conditions prevented baseball from being played, wiping out the four-game series with the Mariners.

The other is the travel being affected. The Boston Red Sox started 3-1 under the total with a terrible travel schedule, opening in Japan, then flying to Oakland. It wasn’t cold, but their bats sure looked frozen and out of synch. A year ago the Red Sox had to cancel an April game with the Mariners because of a forecast of rain, sleet and snow. The Red Sox started 6-2 under the total playing a string of cold weather games in KC, Texas and Boston.

Cool weather often influences a lot of things with teams: hitting, travel, starting pitching, and even future start times on games! We saw two shutouts in the AL last Wednesday, as the Tigers got shut out at home and so did the A’s.

A year ago the Orioles first four home games were against the Tigers and Royals in cool weather and all four games went under the total. The losing team scored 2, 1, 1, and 1 run in the four games. The winning team scored 6, 4, 3, and 2 runs. You won’t see that all summer in an American League four-game series. In fact, Baltimore started 6-3 under the total, a trend that continued this season in the opener as the Orioles scored just 2 runs at home.

A year ago the Tigers started 6-2 under the total while the White Sox started 5-2 under. Fans may like home runs, but April baseball often features the pitchers ahead of the hitters. You can't predict the weather, but don’t look for offensive numbers to be in mid-season form in April.

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