By In Baseball

The Power of Home Field

Got a piece coming in a few minutes on the C.J. Nitkowski kerfuffle — though I don’t use the word “kerfuffle” in the story.

Now, though, from NBC SportsWorld:

Of course, you can cherry-pick the numbers all you want. But the point here is that this year, I think home-field advantage might play a massive role in the baseball playoffs. That’s because this year — perhaps more than any year in recent times — teams are built for their ballparks.

Start in the American League, where Toronto and Kansas City are going to the wire for the league’s best record and home-field advantage. There’s no telling if the Royals and Blue Jays will actually meet in the American League Championship Series. But if they do, the most important factor could be where Game 1 is played.

No Place Like Home

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15 Responses to The Power of Home Field

  1. Marc Schneider says:

    Just a minor quibble. You talk about Seattle’s home field advantage in the playoffs. But, in fact, Seattle was beaten until Green Bay made a couple of inexplicable blunders that I don’t think had much to do with being on the road. In general, the home field in the NFL has been pretty decisive, but even that has changed somewhat in recent years, as a number of wild card teams have made it to the Super Bowl playing no games at home. Baseball certainly has traditionally had the least home-field advantage, but, again, that seems to have changes in recent years, as Joe points out, at least for the World Series. I think the DH has something to do with that. In basketball, of course, home court in the playoffs is virtually outcome determinative, especially in decisive games. I always liked the fact that, in baseball, the home field didn’t determine the outcome and it bothers me that it has become so important in recent years.

  2. KCJoe says:

    Please open a comment section for the Nitkowski thing.

    All I can say is you are so good of a writer that you make other writers better to read.


  3. Curtis says:

    There is a confounding variable in there – in the NBA, NFL, and NHL, the team hosting the deciding game always had a better record (or the same record and won the tiebreaker.) So you have the likely somewhat better team playing under favorable circumstances. In MLB, hosting game seven of the World Series, or hosting the last game of the championship series pre-wild card era was not dependent on having the better record but just a fluke of whether it was an odd or even year.

    That by itself would mean that baseball would be more likely to converge on the regular season home vs. road split, whereas in the other leagues, I would expect a higher win percentage than in the regular season for the home team.

  4. Brian S. says:

    Chelsea’s “15-4” record at home last year was 15 wins and 4 ties (0 losses). So their winning percentage was 0.895. They are terrible this year, though.

  5. dgstan says:

    The story that doesn’t seem to be getting much traction regarding the Dodgers/Mets quest for home-field advantage is that when the Dodgers play at Citi Field, they ARE the home team. I went to a Mets/Dodgers game (Kershaw’s complete game) this year and there were twice as many Brooklyn fans as there were Mets’.

    Sure the playoffs might tilt that ratio to some degree, but the Dodgers are beloved in NYC.

    • Chris M says:

      Probably bc it’s just completely untrue. I wasn’t at the game you mentioned but I’ve gone to numerous Mets-Dodgers games at Citi Field and Shea Stadium throughout the years (including an ’06 NLDS Game) and have never noticed a higher number of Dodgers fans than is usual for a visiting club. They left Brooklyn almost 60 years ago, there’s almost no residual Dodgers fandom that I’ve ever experienced.

      • I haven’t been there, so I don’t know the experience. But, what I have seen from time to time is the visiting team drubbing the home team. Such that the home fans are silent (and even leaving early) and the visiting fans really get going. It can seem like there are a lot of visiting fans, when it’s just a loud minority shouting over a silent crowd of home fans.

        • Chris M says:

          Are you talking about Citi Field? Because I would say that’s absolutely true…prior to July 31, 2015. The Mets have been bad since the day the left Shea Stadium, and more than just being bad they had quite possibly the worst owners in MLB. A lot of Mets fans stopped going to games as a protest of what was happening both on the field and off of it.

          But seriously, have you watched any Mets games the last 2 months? It’s like it used to be at Shea, which is just awesome.

    • dtro says:

      I think the phenomenon you’re describing is just a team with recent success playing in the park of a team without it. There’s almost no residual Brooklyn Dodgers random in NY that wasn’t already transferred to the Mets by 1969. And now that the Mets are good again it’s possible you’ll see the opposite of what you’ve described as there are almost certainly more NY to LA transplants than vice versa.

  6. Chris M says:

    You give us a bunch of paragraphs about how the Royals are built for their home park and the Blue Jays are built for theirs and how different the parks are. Then you talk about the Dodgers and Dodgers Stadium, but barely even mention the Mets and don’t mention Citi Field at all. Yes, Kershaw and Greinke are great at their home pitchers park, but Citi Field isn’t exactly Coors Field. I’ll take my chances with Harvey and DeGrom in a pitchers park on the road, then come home with Syndergaard on the mound.

    Early in the year the Mets were awful on the road and great at home, but since the deadline they’ve been the best road team in baseball, and in September have looked a bit tight at home. For a young team playing the franchise’s first playoff series in nearly a decade, I’d prefer to open up in LA.

    • You seem pretty confident for a fan of a franchise that has done nothing for a couple of decades. The Mets obviously have shrewdly added better position players to what was already a good rotation. But I wouldn’t exactly go to a place where not having home field is a good thing or even an OK thing. The Dodgers are REALLY tough at home. The last thing you want is to face is Greinke and Kershaw at Dodger Stadium for games 1, 2, and either 6 or 7 (possibly both depending on how the off days fall). If you look at the splits for all pitchers involved, the Mets would be at a significant disadvantage. No. You want those key games at CitiField.

      • Chris M says:

        Not really sure what the past few decades have to do with 2015, though I will point out that the Mets have been to a World Series more recently than any team in this years playoff race besides the Cardinals.

        And I don’t mean to sound confident, because I’m not. I was merely pointing out that Joe had an in-depth argument for why home field mattered in the AL but really glossed over the NL. The Mets are ALSO built for a park like Dodgers Stadium. And I do think that right now the Mets are the better team, though not by much.

        And fwiw, small sample size and all, but the Mets took 2 of 3 in LA in early July, back when they were a middling team with no offense.

  7. TWolf says:

    The Royals are, indeed, a much better team at Kauffman this year. However, in their World Series year of 2014, the Royals were actually better on the road. They only won 42 games at Kauffman and won 47 on the road.

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