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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Teams win 54% of their home games. High? Low? Why?

Ahead in the CountHome-Field Advantages, Part One August 11, 2009
by Matt Swartz baseballprospectus.com

In every sport and at every level, the home team wins more games than the visiting team. While this is true in baseball, it's less the case than in other sports. Throughout baseball history, the home team has won approximately 54 percent of the games played. Nearly every aspect of the game has changed drastically over the last century, but home-field advantage has barely changed at all. Consider the home-field advantage in each decade since 1901:

Decade
1901-09 .533
1910-19 .540
1920-29 .543
1930-39 .553
1940-49 .544
1950-59 .539
1960-69 .540
1970-79 .538
1980-89 .541
1990-99 .535
2000-09 .542


... pitchers primarily control walks, strikeouts, and home runs ...
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Unfortunately the writer accepts the conventional wisdom about what the pitcher controls. See:

FIP meets common sense. Saturday, January 23, 2016

At least the article supplied the basic data I wanted. My friend Paul sent it.

2015 .541

2015 pitchers:
OPS home .704 better
OPS road .739

AB/HR home 84,576/2,436 = 34.7 better
AB/HR road 80,913/2,473 = 32.7 more HR in fewer AB

ERA home 3.77
ERA road 4.17

Those are healthy split buts not nearly as much as they probably could be. Baseball tends to not play both sides of the ball.

The home winning percentage has been pretty much 54% for 100 years. I found it high but others I contacted considered it low. It's higher in other sports, which, of course, unlike baseball, have uniform size playing areas. You'd think by now that baseball teams would have figured out a better way to exploit that most odd situation.

It should pay to make your park different, especially in a way that is inexpensive to exploit: probably favoring fielders. Maybe a nice BIG outfield in which, for instance, the three Yankee center fielders Gardner, Ellsbury and Hicks, would pay off. The Red Sox could afford to try Ramirez, either Manny in the past or Hanley in 2015, in left but not Jackie Bradley whose range would be wasted.

People tend to think the Yankees need lefty power because of the short right field in Yankee Stadium. But they also tend to ignore the need for lefty pitching to counter the lefty power of visitors. That's one reason I thought that the Yanks needed David Price even more than the Red Sox, who signed Price, and why it could be a big swing in the division.

Home/Road splits: Bobby Doerr, Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams. Friday, July 17, 2015

... played their entire careers for the Boston Red Sox, which means that they played all their home games in Fenway Park.

Yastrzemski and Williams batted lefty ...

All benefited a lot from their home park, especially Doerr.

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Would Red Sox have won with Phil Rizzuto? Friday, February 4, 2011

In the 1948,1949,1950 seasons Boston scored more runs at home than on the road by these margins: 55, 132, 223!  Per game the difference was: .63, 1.7, 2.9!  In 1948 and 1949 Boston per game allowed FEWER runs at home: -.68, -.61.  In 1950 Boston per game allowed more runs at home: .65. ..

For those three seasons the difference between Boston's home and road wins: 14, 26, 16.  In 1949 when Boston lost the last two games of the regular season at Yankee Stadium to lose the pennant by one game its road record was 35-42 (.455); at home: 61-16 (.792).  That's ridiculous and Ted Williams should have known that...

(1948-1950):
- each season Boston scored more runs at home than Yanks
- each season Yanks scored more  runs on road than Boston
- each season Yanks allowed fewer runs than Boston both home and road!
- each season Boston had higher winning percentage at home than Yanks
- each season Yanks had higher winning percentage on road than Boston

For many years it appeared that Boston stacked its club with players who could bang balls off and over that ridiculous 37 foot wall, the green monster, in left field at Fenway Park.  When they finally went to a more balanced offense including some speed they eventually won.
You live by the wall, you die by the wall.
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Today teams are jumping through hoops to get an edge. Maybe they should settle down and "fix" their home parks and aggressively exploit the rules that allow each team to have things like different home run distances. The home run limit is a minimum, not a maximum. Blow it up. Move those fences way back. That's one approach. It's inexpensive to get good fielders who are fast. The trick is balance so that you don't have a big disadvantage on the road and also to have a pitching staff that can take a comparable advantage.

Traditionally teams favor players who can hit. Now the emphasis is swinging more towards fielding as shown in that ridiculous contract the Cubs gave to Jason Heyward to play right.

Moving the fences back is just the most obvious technique. Others might include:
- fast/slow grass
- lots/little foul territory
- ground/fly ball pitchers and batters.

You get the idea. With all the data floating around you'd think that teams would be doing this. Instead they compete by imitation.

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