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Why is home field advantage no big advantage?

Sep 30, 2010, 12:00 PM EDT

You'd think that having the home field advantage would help you in the playoffs. It really doesn't do all that much for you. Why?

Buster Olney — or, rather, his research guy Kenton Wong — notes today that since the advent of divisional series play, the team with home field advantage in the divisional series has won
just 31 of the 60 series (25 of 48 since it changed to a 2-2-1 format in 1998). Since the advent of the LCS in 1969, teams with home-field advantage are 39-41.  So yeah, maybe home field advantage isn’t that huge of an advantage.

Which goes against our predispositions — as well as some pretty major home-road splits by some teams this season — which hold that home cookin’ does a baseball game good. I’m not sure anyone can come up with a great explanation for this, but here’s my stab:

The thing that gives you home field advantage is the better overall record. The thing that gives you the better overall record over the course of a long, long season is depth, both in the rotation and otherwise.  That depth, however, is seriously overrated in the postseason when you can do crazy things like lean on a couple of hot relievers and top starters, rather than go five deep, day-in-day-out. Meanwhile, the teams without home field probably had to fight tooth-and-nail to get their playoff spot, and thus were on more of a playoff footing longer, relying on a couple of top guys.

There might be a dozen things wrong with that, but I can’t do any better. Well, I could cite random chance, but people really, really hate when you do that when talking about baseball.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    By the way…PART 2…Craig…why did you post a picture of the Phillies in your article about how “Home Field Advantage is no big advantage”? Hmmmmmm…..

  2. Mr. Heyward - Sep 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM


  3. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Because the Phillies are the one team guaranteed to have it in every round they play this postseason?

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Going into the 2009 playoffs, the following were the statistics…
    the team with home field advantage in the divisional series has won just 27 of the 56 series (21 of 44 since it changed to a 2-2-1 format in 1998). Since the advent of the LCS in 1969, teams with home-field advantage are 38-40. So yeah, maybe home field advantage isn’t that huge of an advantage.
    Yet, NOWHERE was this article written. I didn’t see Buster do any research when it was the Cubs with Home Field in 2008. Or the Dodgers with Home Field in 2009. However, the Phillies get Home Field and we have an article on how “Home Field Advantage isn’t that huge of an advantage”!!! The more I think about it, the more I wonder…in the back of the minds of these national writers, they just subconsciously hate Philadelphia. And Craig posted the picture of Werth’s earlier walk-off bomb because……..Yeah, I usually have a different point about things, but you guys have to admit, it’s kinda strange that this is a story in 2010 when it wasn’t a story in 2008 or 2009 and the home field was even LESS of an advantage before the playoffs began those two years.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Of course…thus the article. Where was the article last year, when the DS teams were 27-29? Now that they are 31-29, they decide to write the article? Coincidence? Bleh!!!!!

  6. Giant Space Ants - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    You got it wrong Craig. It’s all about grit and hustle and elbows and heart. That’s what home-field teams lack. They’re mainly cyborgs, who care only about counting money and their own stats and finding Sarah Conner. They don’t have time for winning and victory and triumph and finishing and being first and prevailing and getting the edge and doing the little things and overcoming adversity and perseverance and…

  7. Giant Space Ants - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    It’s the Illuminati. Calcaterra is a Free-Mason!

  8. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    You’re right, everybody hates Philadelphia. That’s it. You know why? Because of assholes like you.
    Happy now?

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    Craig didn’t write the story…National MLB Hero and Baseball “guru” Buster Olney did…using his researcher Mr. Wong. I don’t fault Craig for blogging it…only wondering why this is all of a sudden a big story this year. I guess they just “missed it” last year, when the teams with HFA in the DS were under .500.

  10. Utley's hair - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    The hot dog launcher is obviously compensating for something. Hell, surrounds himself with kids while wearing a shirt and no pants, but nobody ever says anything about it.

  11. Mr. Heyward - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    I certainly am.

  12. Jonny5 - Sep 30, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    And I saw him dry hump a little boy before. Not cool.

  13. Ditto65 - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Me too. People don’t hate Philly. People hate Chris Fiorentino.

  14. Ari Collins - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    I don’t know if they blogged it last year, but I certainly talked about how it’s not that important with a number of friends of mine.

    This is like, if I have my latin right, “Ad hoc, ergo propter hoc.” After this, therefore because of this. I mean, seriously, which do you think is more likely?

    1. Most teams are either going to the postseason or not, and sportswriters are bored. One of them decided to examine the homefield advantage numbers.

    2. Sportswriters have had theories about homefield advantage not being that big a deal for years, but have been holding onto that story, waiting for the time when the city they hate most clinches home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so they can throw the fact that it’s not that important in their faces at just the right time.

  15. Glenn - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Did we all let Chris Fiorentino ruin a perfectly good subject again? It only happens because we let it. We need to stop looking when someone demands “Look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!”.

  16. Ditto65 - Sep 30, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    Look at me! Look At Me! LOOK AT ME!

  17. Kevin S. - Sep 30, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Am I the only one reading that with Heath Ledger’s voice in my head?

  18. Route36West - Sep 30, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Or it could be that 1 or more of the teams with home field advantage had easier opponents all year long then the road teams. They could play in an easier division that makes it easy for them to get to the playoffs with all those wins and get home field advantage and the road team could have it alot harder keeping them from home field advantage. Then when the 2 teams meet the better team wins no matter whos home or whos away.

  19. skitchx48 - Sep 30, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    No one talks about the good stuff when it comes to Philly fans. Sure, we can be a rough lot, but honestly, I’ve been in other stadiums in other cities, and the fans generally act the same way towards the opposition that Philly fans do. (Now our own team, that’s a different story…)
    How about the standing ovation we gave Bobby Cox, a guy who stomped all over us for 14 straight years? No one cared to mention that. And the only reason they mentioned the ovation Thome got is because he proceeded to destroy the baseball immediately afterward.

  20. Ari Collins - Sep 30, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    You were. But now your comment’s nearly made up for all the Fiorentino. Thanks, dude.

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