Baseball Players Grow Better in Sunnier Weather

When thinking about what areas of the United States are considered the hotbeds for producing major league baseball players California, Texas, and Florida immediately come to mind. My ongoing joke has always been there must be something in the water but there might be another more practical reason for that.

The common thread connecting those three states is that they are all warm weathered climates. It is a commonly accepted belief that baseball players who play in warmer weather climates are at a developmental advantage to their colder weather counterparts. The logic behind this is pretty self-explanatory with warmer weather throughout the year; the player can spend more of the year on the baseball field.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if that belief showed up in the Major League Baseball Draft. As an experiment I looked at the location of the schools each draftee played at before being drafted. I analyzed the first 10 picks of the draft from the last 10 years to give 100 total players to compare. I figured in most circles the first 10 picks in the draft are considered premium so it’s a good metric for analyzing the best perceived players of that draft class.

Now for the results…drumroll please…out of the 100 players taken in the first 10 picks of each years’ draft dating back to 2008, 78 players came out of warm weather places. This number could vary incrementally depending on which states you consider warm weather but the results remains the same, players from warmer places tend to get drafted first.

Of course, this isn’t to say that warmer weather states generally produce better players, however, but I think it’s safe to assume that players from schools in warmer climates arrive in the professional ranks with slightly more polish. For example, Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball hails from New Jersey, a state we can safely say experiences four very distinct seasons.

Though interestingly enough only four MVP award winners and four Cy Young winners in the past 10 years have hailed from warmer climates. To be fair though, three of those said players won awards twice which make the award gap not as wide. For better understanding: there has been 20 MVP and Cy Young award recipients in the last 10 years and five MVP winners and six CY Young winners come from schools that players in areas that don’t have the ability to play baseball outside for much of the year.

For added measure and for the sake of more numbers, just 13 of the 70 winners of the College World Series are schools located in cooler climates. That might be the most astounding number yet, in favor of baseball being better coming from sunny weather.

I imagine scouts have a better idea about all of this than the number-crunching nerd that I am but for the sake of my own curiosity I feel I covered it well enough. I wager in the end it doesn’t matter so much as to where the player came just as long as they have a successful professional baseball career.