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.
While the April bump in homer rates has created questions of causation, it's worth noting what's remarkable—and what isn't.
The 2009 season is just three weeks old, and already one of the dominant themes of discussion is rising home-run rates. As with many subjects this spring, the new Yankee Stadium has done much to drive the conversation and skew the numbers, with 26 home runs flying out of the yard during the Bronx Bombers' initial six-game homestand, a result that even piqued the interest of idle meteorologists. Elsewhere, anecdotal observations of balls not particularly well struck flying over fences abound, and measure-meister Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker has noted that distances are up. In a staff piece cobbled together by request from our partners at ESPN last Friday, Marc Normandin pointed out that April home-run rates were up from 1.78 per game last year to 2.15 this year. As colleague Will Carroll often asks when passing along data for examination by the more mathematically inclined, "Is this anything?"
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A player whose power is tamped down by the faraway walls of Petco.
Last week we took a look at how the wind and his home park affected Kevin Youkilis' home-run production in 2008. Youkilis is an example of a player who is being overrated due to some homers receiving a boost from those factors, but it can work both ways; there are also players who are underrated due to these same effects holding their power numbers down, and this time out we'll take a look at one of them.
While baseballs can fly, fly, fly away off of many hitters' bats, the results aren't always the same for any one of them year to year.
Home runs are one of the most exciting parts of a baseball game. They're the fastest way to score a run, and unlike moving baserunners from station to station, they happen in an instant, causing fans instant joy or equally instant sorrow. There is a reason that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are said to have "saved" baseball back in 1998, as fans who had left the game behind following the '94 strike flocked back to watch home-run records being set.
With both League Championship Series at 3-1, what are the chances, and how often has it happened?
With both the Dodgers and Red Sox facing 3-1 deficits in their respective League Championship Series, the inevitable question being asked by advertisers and network executives desperate for a marquee World Series matchup-not to mention any fan who's decided they'd like to hear Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and a chorus of moralizing pundits tell us even more about the Manny Ramirez saga-is, "Can they come back?" The answer is, probably not, as just 11 teams have come from down 3-1 to win a seven-game post-season series. Still, the legendary comebacks and heartbreaking collapses in those 11 series have stocked baseball lore with a memorable cast of heroes and villains, including Mickey Lolich, Willie Stargell, Don Denkinger, Donnie Moore, Steve Bartman, and Dave Roberts.
Has the perceived decrease in foul territory brought by the new stadium boom contributed to the surge in home runs over the past two decades?
Last time around, after discussing how the baseball itself may have changed in a manner that helped to boost home run rates over the past two decades, I took a look at the myth of the shrinking ballpark. To recap, the notion that the stadium construction boom that's taken place over the past 20 years has left us with a game full of bandboxes is actually a false one, at least when it comes to fence distances:
The past might be a foreign country, but at the moment, where 756 is concerned, we're still well within its borders. What does the gang think of Barry Bonds' achievement?
Maury Brown: There ought to be one word that comes to mind when taking in Bonds' place as the all-time home run king. Maybe that word is 'confused.' Or cloudy, muddy, murky... take your pick. In the history of sports, I don't think anyone has ever faced the dilemma of asking whether or not a record was legitimately set or not. Barry Bonds has forced us to look at that issue with arguably the most revered and sacred of records in baseball. After all, the record has been achieved, and controversy be damned, he hasn't failed a drug test, nor has he been indicted by the Feds, nor has some mountain of evidence landed in George Mitchell's lap that makes one think that Bonds is going to be the focus of his soon-to-be published report.
Jeff Cirillo's comments about the baseballs used at Coors Field were right on the money.
The Associated Press reported a story yesterday that pushed me to do research I'd been wanting to do for a while. Tuesday afternoon, Brewers utility infielder Jeff Cirillopointed out what should have been obvious for some time: that the Rockies' use of a humidor for storing game balls has gone past the point of a minor correction for atmospheric conditions and become a means to creating a pitchers' park. Cirillo cited little more than the way a ball felt in his hand and second-hand comments by his teammates, but he did add this:
As Dan explains, it's not the heat that gets you...
Two weeks ago I offered a few theories on why run scoring at Coors Field is down this year in response to a rash of articles on the "humidor effect" last month. Through games of June 15, some back of the envelope calculations show that run scoring is about 5% higher at Coors while home runs are up about 16%, whereas historically those numbers would be around the 25% and 50% range respectively. Obviously small sample-size caveats apply, but in that article we found that through the first two months of the season, run scoring and home runs have never been this low in Coors, a fact that verified Hurdle's statements and justified all the talk around the league.
It wasn't that long ago, really. In 1992, 30 homers would have placed a
hitter fourth in the National League. These days, a player could hit 30
home runs and never show up on the typical fan's radar. We're in the middle
of the biggest home run jump in baseball history. (Big news, to you all,
I'm sure. Tomorrow's feature: the Pope wears a skullcap!)
If the sportswriters of the future aren't careful, then hitters of the '90s
are going to be seriously overrepresented in the Hall of Fame, the same way
that hitters of the '20s and '30s are today. People looked at the gaudy
batting averages of the era (Freddy Lindstrom hit .379 in 1930! Ooooooh!)
and instinctively viewed then through the prism of their own era (a .379
average in 1976, when the Vets' committee inducted Lindstrom, would have
been 40 points higher than any major leaguer actually hit that year).