What Happened to Home Field Advantage in MLB
We're approaching 40 games for all Major League Baseball teams this season here in the second week of May. I don't think I've ever seen something quite like this before. All of the following teams have better ROAD records than home records
Chicago White Sox (3-15 at home!)
A couple of other teams are right near break-even. That means HALF THE MAJORS hasn't been enjoying home field advantage this season?
Sure, you expect it with a handful of teams over a small sample size. But, it's becoming NORMAL. How can this many teams be playing better on the road than at home one fourth of the way through a season?
The Dean of Sports Handicapping has some theories...
*Attendance is so far down for some franchises that any boost from the crowd is impossible. Players are performing in a near empty stadium. If you're a team getting virtually NO support from local fans, how inspired are you going to be to play at your best? The home team lacks enthusiasm, the visitors are still trying to win...hence, a lot more wins than normal for road teams.
*The acceptability of "tanking" in pro sports (once almost unthinkable) has made it okay for rebuilding teams to lose a lot more home games than before. The Houston Astros were horrible for a few years, then became a juggernaut. If you tell the home fans that you're going to be the Astros in a few years, they'll accept a poor home record. This doesn't explain the full list, because there are clearly some contenders who aren't getting results at home. But, those that are cellar dwellers are going to stay cellar dwellers. Teams like the White Sox or Reds have convinced themselves they NEED to lose a certain number of home games to create a better future.
*But, what's the deal with the Astros now?! They're a juggernaut and still not showing much of a home field advantage? The case here is that the roster may not be properly built for that home stadium. Many don't realize that Minute Maid is a great pitchers park (check the ballpark effect stats from the past few seasons!). Houston is built to dominate EVERYWHERE, but isn't as well-suited to its own park as it is a cross-section of stadiums in other cities. If you think about it, teams who are great on the road will have trouble showing much home field advantage.
*Finally, the relative "standardization" of play is making home park influences less relevant. Every hitter is going to the plate swinging as hard as they can. Every manager is trying to build a bullpen that can take him one arm at a time through the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Teams who are best suited to play "2018 baseball" because of their talent will win anywhere. Those who aren't won't do well anywhere. Ballparks are less relevant than ever in that light.
Your homework this weekend is to make a good faith evaluation for true home field advantage in all 30 Major League parks. You can't just use this year's stats only, because that's too small a sample size. Calculate home and road records for each team over the last three seasons, and determine how many "wins per season" are likely attributable to home field advantage.
After you've done that, tweak those numbers to create money line estimates for best expectations for the rest of this season. Assume tankers will have almost no home field edge (maybe only worth a few cents on the moneyline). On the other end of the spectrum, try to spot teams who are well-suited to perform in their own ballparks, and could have monster performances this season as a result.
I believe this could be one of the most important homework assignments you've encountered here in the coursework of my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping. What you learn will pay off over the next five months, and all the way through in the playoffs through the World Series.
If you'd like some help finding baseball (and basketball) winners, KELSO STURGEON'S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the office by calling office at 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours. I do have great rates for extended packages that go through the NBA Playoffs, the MLB all-star break, or the full baseball season.
Thanks for your attendance. I'll be back again on Monday to talk about the Eastern and Western Conference Finals in the NBA. We don't spend time with hockey here in our coursework. I can tell you, though, that the city of Las Vegas is buzzing like I've never seen before for the Golden Knights in the NHL playoffs. Never thought I'd see the day. Very happy I did. There's nothing like the energy of a galvanized city when a championship is up for grabs. Here, we add in the fact that fans can cash in huge tickets on winning the Western Conference or the Stanley Cup Finals if the Golden Knights can make it that far. Personally, I'm honored to have played a role over the years in popularizing sports betting. See you next week.