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August 16, 2004 12:00 am
Baseball teams show a consistent home-field advantage each season, with homer teams playing about .540 ball. Is that edge due to home teams doing a better job of taking the extra base thanks to familiarity with their environment? James Click breaks it down.
The source of this advantage is unknown. It's been suggested that local knowledge, how to hit or pitch better in a team's more familiar home park, is the key. Perhaps some of the home team's advantage lies in knowing the nuances of their particular ballpark, but applied in a different area. It's possible that home teams may be better baserunners, knowing better than their opponents which balls will allow them to take the extra base.
Before getting into whether or not a baserunning advantage is the result of a particular park, it's important to first establish that parks do affect the baserunning in a consistent manner from year to year. To determine if park factors for baserunning do exist, I'll look at three typical baserunning situations where the runner is faced with the choice to take the extra base or not: a runner on first during a single, a runner on first during a double, and a runner on second during a single. There are three possible outcomes to each baserunning event: the runner can take the base he's supposed to, the runner can take the extra base or the runner can be thrown out.