6/24/2014 12:00 A.M. ET
Understanding the nuances of weather in fantasy play
Watching wind, temperature and humidity can create advantages for your team
By Jonathan Bales / Special to MLB.com
One of the fun aspects of the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com, besides competing for MLB tickets for free, is participating against a large field of entrants and coming out on top. Finishing in the top 10 percent of the contest isn't an incredibly difficult feat; you might be able to just pull a "set-it-and-forget-it" move with your lineup and still beat most of the field if you know your stuff. To finish at the top of the leaderboard and take home prizes, though, you need to pay attention to the details.
We've discussed the importance of weather in these lessons because, well, it's vital to your daily fantasy baseball success. Part of that is monitoring the forecast for chances of thunderstorms so that you don't start players who are in games that end up being postponed. However, there's more to it than that. Here are a few specific weather-related pointers to increase your chances of winning the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com.
1. Watch the wind, but don't go overboard.
The direction and speed of the wind can wreak havoc on the flight of a baseball, either pushing it out to turn warning-track power into homers or pulling it in to steal long balls from deserving sluggers. You should monitor the state of the wind before games, emphasizing it when it's very strong in one direction or the other.
However, even though wind is really important in determining the distance of fly balls, you can't place too much emphasis on it because it's unpredictable. Yes, it's going to help your batters if they hit long fly balls just as a gust of wind is blowing out to center, but it's really difficult -- impossible, really -- to predict when those gusts are going to occur.
The wind isn't completely steady at all times; it picks up and slows down, so penalizing a batter because the wind is blowing in at 10 mph isn't a smart move, just because it won't always be moving at that speed. It's the really strong winds -- 20-plus mph -- that you want to really stress.
Oh, this all goes out the window at Wrigley Field, where the wind gusts can be so strong that it's almost a necessity to target bats in Chicago when the wind is blowing out at a high velocity.
2. Heat it up.
The majority of what determines the flight of a baseball is air pressure, and air pressure is affected in part by temperature. There's a lot of complicated science behind it, but higher temperatures often help because they expand the air and allow for a smoother flight of the ball. There can be a massive difference between a fly ball in 90-degree weather and one in 60-degree weather (about 12 feet on an otherwise 400-foot hit).
3. Monitor the humidity.
It might seem trivial to examine humidity levels when playing fantasy baseball, but it's the combination of small advantages that turn good daily fantasy baseball players into great ones. Similar to high temperatures, high humidity allows for an easier flight for the ball.
This might seem counterintuitive because humidity results in "thick air," but moist air actually decreases the friction on the baseball as it travels, allowing for longer hits. If you look at the distance of fly balls in Marlins Park, for example, you'll see that they go farther when 1) there are very warm temperatures, 2) it's humid (as is often the case in Miami) and 3) the roof is open.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.