MLB Musings: Home Field Advantage – Do You Want It?

As the long and winding road of the MLB season enters into the home stretch, our resident baseball nerd here at FirstAndMonday.com got to looking at the standings. The old “If the season ended today…” hypotheticals begin to slowly look like plausible endings, and one may be inclined to wonder:

How much does home field advantage really mean to some of these seemingly playoff-bound clubs? 

              He who comes, will likely lose.

First, we’ll dispense with a little non-drama. Boston has home field advantage throughout the playoffs for as far as they can advance. The home team for the World Series, no longer determined by the All-Star game winner, now goes to the team with the best record. That will be Boston. Fenway is a great home park, and the Red Sox have more or less the same winning percentage on the road versus at home. To the point of this article, does Boston want it? Sure. Honestly they’re so good, it probably doesn’t matter.

But as we look a little further down the line, we see some teams who, from a logical perspective may not be entirely enamored with the supposed advantage. Take Houston, for example. The defending champs are 90-54 overall, which ties them with the Yankees for the second best record in baseball. However, while their 12 games over .500 home record is just fine, they’re a staggering 28 games over on the road. Now obviously many factors come into play here, but could it be possible that the 2018 version of the Astros simply doesn’t fit quite as well into their friendly confines and would be just as well off NOT having the advantage? Lest we forget that the 2017 iteration of the ‘Stros that won the World Series did so without the advantage.

The NL East-leading Atlanta Braves have one of the more road-leaning splits of the teams who, at this point, seem to sit fairly safely in the playoff-bound category. The Braves are currently 80-64 overall, and their 43-30 road record is good for the third best road mark in all of baseball (behind just the aforementioned Red Sox and Astros), but they’re just 37-34 at SunTrust Park.

Of course there are examples on the other end of the spectrum as well. The AL Central leading Indians are just 37-35 on the road, but a much more robust 44-28 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Similarly, the NL Central leading Cubs are 39-35 away from Wrigley Field, but 44-25 at home. The Brewers, who are currently nipping at the Cubs heels trying to steal away the central for themselves, have extremely similar marks with a 38-35 record away from Miller Park and a 45-27 record when playing there.

What does it all mean? Very little, probably. But you can see how some teams may be a little more enamored with having the “advantage”, especially if they’re of the mold of the modern baseball front office who tends to look a little deeper into the numbers. Still, on the surface, every team wants home field advantage. The chance to play in front of the home crowd and to sleep in ones own bed is always more appealing, but that doesn’t mean it’s for their own good.

 

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