Within Grasp: Home Field Advantage

The Detroit Tigers lost in the 10th inning at the hand of the Seattle Mariners.  That puts them 2-4 on the month and 26-26 since the All-Star break, when the Tigers were a phenomenal thirty games over .500 only 88 games into the season.  The victory last night by the Randy/Jorge-powered Yanks puts New York two games behind Detroit in the win column and dead even in the loss column for the best record in the American League and home field advantage, potentially all the way through the World Series.  Home field advantage is the Yankees’ to lose, as New York holds the advantage in head-to-head play with Detroit, five games to two.

New York caught Detroit by going 32-19 (.627) since the break.  As
Detroit fades in the stretch and watches their lead evaporate, it
appears more likely that pressure for the best record will come from
the Twins or the Athletics.  Minnesota is 33-18 (.647) since the break,
and Oakland has been even more impressive at 34-16 (.680).  The White
Sox are 23-27 since the break.

Despite their recent troubles and curious, suspicious dismissals,
Detroit is still the team with the best record, and
he-who-makes-coffee-nervous won’t let it slip easily.  Detroit’s
opponents over their last 22 games are Minnesota (4), Texas (2),
Baltimore (4), Chicago (3), Kansas City (6), and Toronto (3), evenly
split between away games and Comerica Park games.  New York finishes it
season playing 24 games against divisional opponents Baltimore (7),
Tampa Bay (7), Boston (4), and Toronto (6), 13 games at the Stadium and
11 on the road.

Whatever slight advantage New York may have in the schedule based on
the quality of opponents and that two of Detroit’s opponents are
divisional contenders may be offset by two things:

A. The fact that New York has only one day off after today, a travel
day between Toronto and Tampa Bay.  Fortunately, all
travel is within the Eastern time zone.

B. Though New York had great success against their fiercest rival in the last set in Boston, New York went 2-4 immediately following the sweep in Fenway.  In fact, New York is 8-7 since that series, though two of the losses were games where NY was leading in the ninth and ended up blowing the game.  The four game set in three days September 15-17 should hold for some high drama, and possibly another post-series letdown, regardless if the last series didn’t quite live up to its billing, and it is certain that all of the AL East opponents would enjoy their shot at spoiling New York’s hopes for home field.

In all this many would say that making the playoffs is the most
important thing and that home field isn’t the prize, which is a fair
point.  I have also heard the opinion that depending who would result
as the first round opponent, the best record might not be as desirable,
which is a concept I don’t support.  Right now, home field advantage is New York’s to take.

13 comments… add one
  • What about those Twinkies? Certainly they can’t be written off for the AL Central, division-wise. They are 3 back of the Tigers and Yanks in the loss column, so they (or even the A’s) could, somewhat improbably, end up stealing home field. But the Yanks have to be the favorite, I agree.

    SF September 7, 2006, 3:25 pm
  • I completely agree regarding the Twins, and think that the race is more likely to come from them or the A’s, as I said in the second paragraph.
    I did a write-up on those teams’ remaining schedules but edited it out for brevity. The upshot of that paragraph noted that the A’s and Twins have much more difficult schedules on paper. The A’s only easy opponent on paper is Tampa Bay. They also play the Twins three games, seven against Anaheim, three against Chicago and four against Cleveland, and three against Seattle. The Twins, in addition to their set against the A’s, play Detroit, Cleveland, Boston and Chicago, with their “easy” opponents being KC and Baltimore.

    attackgerbil September 7, 2006, 3:37 pm
  • Hey, don’t leave the Sox off that “easy opponents” list, Gerb!

    SF September 7, 2006, 3:39 pm
  • Never poke the bear.

    attackgerbil September 7, 2006, 3:43 pm
  • I would agree with AG that it’s best to have the top record, if only for it sends a message to the other teams: we’re the top dog. But the home field might not be that big of an issue. The Yanks will have home field in the first round by virtue of their record. They get it in the World Series, should they make it, regardless. So we’re talking about 1 series here, theoretically against Detroit. Do they need home field against Detroit? Is it preferable, against an inferior team, to have the 2-3-2 format, where you get the middle games at your own house? Probably doesn’t much matter.

    YF September 7, 2006, 4:47 pm
  • Last time the Yanks were in a seventh game the home field made a huge difference, if I recall.
    Oh, wait…

    SF September 7, 2006, 5:30 pm
  • I think the statistics bear out that home field usually doesn’t mean much in the playoffs. Of course, it’s hard to discern it because by definition the better team has the home field, but still, the point stands. From everything I’ve read, it’s a negligable difference.
    I’m more concerned with Joe running Proctor and Villone into the ground for no good reason. Can someone PLEASE explain that one to me?

    Sam September 7, 2006, 5:39 pm
  • “The Yanks will have home field in the first round by virtue of their record.”
    As of today, that is true, and will continue to be true so long as they outpace Oakland and the wildcard comes out of the central.
    Runs differentials:
    784 scored, 368 home, 416 away
    649 allowed, 290 home, 359 away
    +135, +78, +57
    690 scored, 324 home, 366 away
    551 allowed, 276 home, 275 away
    +139, +48, +91
    677 scored, 352 home, 325 away
    601 allowed, 262 home, 339 away
    +76, +90, -14
    649 scored, 328 home, 321 away
    601 allowed, 302 home, 299 away
    +38, +26, +22
    Looks like it sucks to be a visitor to the Metrodome.

    attackgerbil September 7, 2006, 5:53 pm
  • In some cases, particularly the divisional series, the advantage actually lies with the non-homefield team.
    Let’s say it’s Twins vs. Yanks in the first round, with NY having the better record. As AG noted, the Twins kill in the Heftydome, so the Yankees actually are disadvantaged, having to play the first two games there. The Twins would be a good bet, imo, to take those two games, then need only to win one of three in Yankee Stadium to take the series.
    In a seven-game series, of course, it’s different because the homefield team gets the first two and the last two games at its home park. But in those five-gamers, sometimes it’s better to be the visitor.

    Paul SF September 7, 2006, 6:18 pm
  • That is, the team without homefield advantage. Blech. All scatter-brained today…

    Paul SF September 7, 2006, 6:19 pm
  • If I recall correctly, Wang pitches significantly better at Yankee Stadium.

    Kevin September 7, 2006, 7:02 pm
  • Wang’s record:
    Away: 6 wins 3 losses, 1 save, 5 no dec. that resulted as 1 win, 4 losses for the team
    Home: 10 wins 2 losses, 3 no dec. that resulted as 2 wins, 1 loss

    attackgerbil September 7, 2006, 8:25 pm
  • His ERA/WHIP/BAA is:
    Away: 4.87/1.55/3.12
    Home: 2.76/1.10/2.37
    Looks like you recalled correctly, Kevin.

    attackgerbil September 7, 2006, 8:27 pm

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