Is there a surprise to be found in terms of the in-series pattern of home-field advantage?
In the first three articles of this series, we have studied what home-field advantage affects, who it affects most, and where it shows up most. We have found that home-field advantage affects nearly every aspect of a team's performance, including pitching, defense, baserunning, and offense. We found that the Rockies are the only team that has statistically significant home-field advantage, and that most other teams are bound to win about eight percent more games at home than on the road in the long-run. We also found that home-field advantage was larger in interleague games than intraleague games, larger in interdivision games than in intradivision games, and even within divisions, it was larger the further apart the teams played. This suggested that travel might be playing a significant effect in home-field advantage. Further evidence of this came from the fact that interleague games within teams in equivalent divisions (e.g. East vs. East) had smaller home-field advantages than interleague games where longer travel distances were involved.
Drilling down even more deeply into the subject to find out where, why, and how.
In trying to understand home-field advantage, we have asked what home-field advantage actually makes a team do better, and we have asked who has the biggest home-field advantage. The first article of this series answered the question of what home-field advantage actually makes you do better-everything, as home teams do better on walks, strikeouts, balls in play, and errors. They are better at pitching, hitting, baserunning, and defense, and all aspects of their games seem to improve. The second article of this series showed that most teams have pretty much the same size home-field advantage, with the exception of the Rockies. Even though natural luck can make a team look like they are particularly good or bad at home, the 29 non-Rockies teams are pretty much right around eight percent home-field advantage, plus or minus a little statistical noise.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The most powerful and the most hapless divisions of the Wild Card Era.
The World Series is over, and the Rays lost, but from an analytical standpoint, they're a gift that keeps on giving. One much-discussed topic during their post-season run was the strength of the American League East, particularly during the AL Championship Series, where the Rays met and defeated their division foes, the Red Sox. It's no secret that this year's AL East was a particularly deep division in today's smaller-division setup, as its top four teams-the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays-finished above .500 and ranked among the top six teams on the year-end Hit List. The question is: Where does this division fit in historically?
The Red Sox are happy as is with their new, low-key left fielder, plus news and reviews from around the major leagues.
ST. PETERSBURG—The Dodgers' acquisition of Manny Ramirez will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest in-season moves in baseball history. The left fielder played a huge role in the Dodgers winning the National League West and advancing to the National League Championship Series. He hit .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs in 53 regular-season games after being acquired from the Red Sox as part of a three-team deadline-day trade that also included the Pirates. That was enough for Ramirez to lead all Dodgers’ hitters with 47.6 VORP while also posting a sizzling .404 EqA. Ramirez was 5-for-10 with two home runs and five runs scored in the three-game sweep of the Cubs in the National League Division Series, and has gone 3-for-8 with a homer in the first two games of the NLCS. Nevertheless, the Dodgers trail the Phillies 2-0 in the best-of-seven series that resumes tonight at Dodger Stadium.
The NLCS features two evenly-matched clubs, but how the managers line up their rotations could make all the difference.
The Phillies claimed their second NL East title in as many years by embarking on a 13-3 tear to end the season, once again storming past a shell-shocked Mets club. They made short work of the Brewers in the Division Series, and come into the Championship Series with arguably the most potent lineup of any of the four remaining teams along with the top starting pitcher in Cole Hamels.
Disappointment and acceptance in Chicago and Anaheim, Sabathia prepares to receive his suitors, and the commissioner nips an idea in the bud.
The Angels and Cubs spent six months building the best regular-season records in their respective leagues. Now, they will watch the rest of the postseason at home in front of their flat screens after both were knocked out of the League Division Series.
The LDS round ends early again, leaving us with a few days without baseball to ponder what just happened to give us baseball's final four.
The four teams that advanced to the League Championship Series are probably the top two teams in the AL, and two of the top three playoff teams in the NL. We can debate the Dodgers; relative standing in the NL as a whole, complicated by the fact that their playoff lineup is nothing like anything they used during the season, but I don't think anyone would argue that they're a better team than the Brewers at the moment.
However great the place over the broad sweep of its history, recent seasons have given cause for discontent.
Back on September 13, a week ago last Saturday, I attended my final game at Yankee Stadium, the last of over 130 contests I've witnessed there over the course of 13 seasons. Like the Yankees' doomed run of consecutive postseason berths, like the team's residence in the House That Ruth Built, like so much else this season, my stay at the ballpark ended not with a bang but a whimper, as a listless lineup appeared barely able to summon the energy to go through the motions of losing to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-1. The Yanks didn't score until the ninth inning, or even draw a walk on the afternoon. Who were those pinstriped zombies?
Narrowing the field to just a half-dozen stories proves impossible, so how about covering the outcomes in a half-dozen conferences?
This was another weekend-and its getting this way every weekend-where narrowing down the action to six stories seemed impossible. The ACC, MWC, Big East, Big 12, and Pac-10 all had series involving two of the top three teams, while the SEC and Big West had a lot of important series that might affect their standings. So, rather than determine just six stories, and since we're a month away from the tournament's release, I decided to choose six conferences to detail. Before I get into trouble, let me explain why I didn't choose a few other series that didn't make the cut. In the Midwest, Michigan and Wichita State have been utterly dominant, and both look well-positioned to win their conference and host a regional. Rice's 13-game win streak was ended on Friday against Central Florida, but the Owls bounced back to win the series, and I'm sure they will win Conference USA. The Big East saw St. John's top Notre Dame in South Bend this weekend, effectively ending that race a month early. Finally, the West Coast Conference is being left out, perhaps unfairly, but with a San Diego/Pepperdine matchup coming up this weekend, I promise to do the conference justice in my preview at the end of the week. Now, the six I chose to detail:
A first taste of the playoffs has helped inspire a hunger for more for the Phillies and their fans.
The Philadelphia Phillies waited 14 years to get to the playoffs, and their stint in the postseason seemingly ended before it even began, as they were swept in three games by the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. Thus, the Phillies' storybook finish--in which they overcame a seven-game deficit to the New York Mets in the final 17 days of the regular season to win the NL East--ended against a team in the midst of a hot streak for the ages. The Rockies had won 14 of their last 15 games to capture the NL wild card, then went
on to sweep Arizona in the National League Championship Series after dispatching the Phillies. Ultimately, Colorado had 21 wins in 22 games before being swept by Boston in the World Series.