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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Removing Fans Didn’t Remove MLB’s Home-Field Advantage

This season, fans were banned from ballparks, which gave home-field advantage scholars the natural experiment they were waiting for. At first, teams’ home field edge seemed to have dissipated or disappeared with flesh-and-blood fans replaced by cardboard cutouts, which seemed consistent with previous research on basketball and soccer games played in empty stadiums or between teams with the same home facility. On August 17,’s Mike Petriello noted that home teams had won only 50.5 percent of their games, which was lower than any full-season figure.

However, FanGraphs’ Ben Clemens observed days later that while home teams weren’t yet winning at their typical clip, they were still outproducing visiting teams at the plate, which seemed to augur good outcomes ahead. Sure enough, home teams finished the season strong. And now we know the answer to that common question from June: Not only was home-field advantage still in effect, but it was bigger than usual. Historically, MLB home teams have won 54 percent of their games. (Home teams have gone 95,205-80,954 in the regular season since 1920, a .540 winning percentage.) This year, home teams went 500-398, a .557 winning percentage. That’s the highest home winning percentage in a season since 2010. Multiple teams boasted historic home/road splits in the small-sample campaign: The Astros and Twins recorded the two biggest gaps ever between home winning percentage and road winning percentage, and the Yankees showed the greatest gulf between average home and road run differentials.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 30, 2020 at 09:28 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home field advantage

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   1. Cblau Posted: September 30, 2020 at 09:14 PM (#5980024)
So this year visiting teams that hit second were 11-18, and teams batting second in neutral parks the past few decades were 31-37, yet the author claims there is an advantage to batting second.
   2. Rally Posted: September 30, 2020 at 09:36 PM (#5980031)
Maybe if you are on the road but have to make up a home game, you should just say "no thanks, we'll bat first"

Small sample size and all but 31-37 certainly makes it hard to support the idea that batting last is an advantage. We could get some real data if MLB did a slight rule change: Every game, the home team manager can elect to bat first or second.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5980051)
This would seem to support my long-held belief that HFA is based primarily on some combination of travel and familiarity with/ability to construct a roster for the home park.

   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 30, 2020 at 11:08 PM (#5980080)
It would be interesting to separate out the games in which the home team had just arrived back, so that both had traveled immediately previously.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2020 at 11:30 PM (#5980089)

It would be interesting to separate out the games in which the home team had just arrived back, so that both had traveled immediately previously.

Yes, I would assume travel benefits would likely occur at the start of the second/third legs of homestands, when they've been playing there for a few days and the opponent is playing after flying in.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: September 30, 2020 at 11:31 PM (#5980090)
It would be interesting to separate out the games in which the home team had just arrived back, so that both had traveled immediately previously.

There is a lot of data out there that can be looked at, and that people have proposed... and some have been at least superficially looked at. It's just a matter of finding a person who wants to do it, and is willing to pull themselves away from a personal viewpoint... from memory (and no I can't find it) there were studies that were done on the coors effect and the fact that the home team suffered more in the first series after a road series than they did after the second series... Ultimately though, understanding where the homefield advantage comes from in baseball is somewhat important to be honest.

In theory, the uniqueness of the stadium should be a matter of importance, but home field advantage for baseball is less than homefield advantage for the NFL or NBA (not sure about the NHL) and in both of those cases, the uniqueness of the stadiums isn't actually that important (same with the NHL) Of course the main difference between the four major sports in the U.S. is that in MLB... the single most important player in the game varies 5 times a week... none of the other sports have that...I mean Joe Montana, as a pitcher, played 160 games in a season... imagine peak Pedro Martinez giving you 160 starts... homefield isn't really going to matter. Yet apparently it does in the other sports.... (note: a dominant pitcher is probably worth at about 40% of a team win, while the greatest quarterback in history is still at best around 25% of a teams win--so I admit that was an overstatement... but it was intended to show the fact that in the NFL they only have a number one starter)
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 01, 2020 at 08:46 AM (#5980144)
imagine peak Pedro Martinez giving you 160 starts

Sounds like an interesting Strat-O-Matic project, although I imagine his stats would start to overflow the field limits after a couple of months.
   8. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 02, 2020 at 07:48 AM (#5980498)
imagine peak Pedro Martinez giving you 160 starts

Sounds like an interesting Strat-O-Matic project

Or OOTP. OK, let's do this.

I took the 2000 Red Sox and cloned Pedro four times, so that the entire Sox rotation consists of Martinezes. Here's what happened:

Predictably, the Sox laid waste to the American League, but not quite as much as you might think: 121-41, 37 games ahead of the second-place Blue Jays. (The Yankees finished 67-95, in last place. Har!)

Four out of five Pedros (sounds like an old TV commercial!) won 20 games, except, surprisingly, the original:

Pedro A Martinez: 21-4, 216 ERA+, 8.3 WAR
Pedro B Martinez: 20-9, 202, 11.3
Pedro C Martinez: 27-2, 251, 12.2 (led the league in everything, won CY and MVP)
Pedro D Martinez: 20-5, 219, 10.5
Pedro J Martinez: 19-5, 191, 8.0 (made only 27 starts, and was actually in the bullpen late in the season!)

Also, Paxton Crawford started on the final day of the season, against Tampa Bay. Dunno.

In the playoffs, the Sox swept A's, needed the full seven games to oust Seattle (!), then swept the Dodgers in the World Series. A was 2-0 in the playoffs, B was 2-1, C was 3-0, D was 3-1 and Derek Lowe was 1-1. (J only pitched a few innings and had no decisions.)

The lesson? Having five Pedros IZ GOOD.
   9. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 02, 2020 at 08:43 AM (#5980500)
How many innings did the Pedros throw for the season (individually and collectively)?

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