Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why Division Series Home Field Advantage is Overrated

Continuing from my thoughts on the Wild Card and how to fix the Playoffs, I thought I'd dissect the results of the Division Series since 2000. Of the 28, 5-game Division Series played since 2000, 16 have been won by the team without home field advantage. This is the exact opposite of what you would expect, but let's walk through each of the scenarios that the team without home field advantage faces in the Division Series.

The best case scenario is to win both away games and return home with two chances to finish off your opponent. That one is pretty straight forward.

The realistic expectation is to split the away games and return home with home field advantage. At this point, winning Game 3 is huge since then you have the chance to end the series at home in Game 4. If Game 3 is a loss, then you get to play a must-win game in front of your home crowd. Winning that game gives you the momentum heading into a decisive Game 5.

The worst case scenario is losing both away games. However, you then return home to play a must-win game in front of your fans. Winning Game 3 repeats the same scenario where you play in front of your fans in a must-win game. Forcing a Game 5 means that you have all the momentum in the series.

So, looking at it from that perspective it isn't a mystery why the home team has lost 57% of the Division Series these past 7 years - the format favors the team that starts on the road. This just goes to show how genius Cashman and the rest of the Yankees organization is by playing possum for the Division Pennant only to find themselves in a more powerful position by winning the Wild Card!


Michael in New York said...

For heaven's sake, you've got me worried we might win the division and be screwed. If only we'd been wild cards, we might have a few more World Series games to our credit.

But I doubt 6 years of stats can give you any meaningful pattern. In short, a five game series is unfair.

priv8pete said...

From 2000 through 2006 is 7 years and I'd say those numbers are approaching statistical significance if they aren't already.

How about you leave the numbers to Jewcie, Joe and me and we leave you to your cranky exhortations about A-Rod, Giambi and Rocket?