The 10 Biggest Home Field Advantages In The MLB
While a baseball team is only as good as the nine guys they put on the field, often times there are outside factors that can influence the outcome of a baseball game.
While the stadiums of today are not nearly as quirky as places like the Polo Grounds with its 483 foot center field, there are still certain home field advantages that give teams a distinct advantage 81 games a season.
Aside from the stadium itself, the people paying to fill the stadium can also influence a game. Playing in front of a loud, enthusiastic crowd can fire up any team and lead them to victory.
So what follows are the ten biggest home field advantages in the big leagues today. I encourage you to suggest anything I may have excluded, and I look forward to your feedback.
No. 10: The Tomahawk Chop - Turner Field
While the Braves have fallen on hard times lately, after their ridiculous playoff run in the 1990s and 2000s, the Tomahawk Chop has survived.
There may be no single thing in all of baseball that gets fans behind a rallying team or that celebrates a run like the chop, and when the foam tomahawks are present, it is quite a spectacle.
With the buzz surrounding Jason Heyward, and the wide-open NL East, don't be surprised if Braves fans are doing the chop more often this season.
No. 9: The Foul Territory - Oakland Coliseum
Thanks to the fact that they share a stadium with the Oakland Raiders and thus need to accommodate end zones, the A's field has by far the most spacious foul territory in all of the majors.
This may seem like a non-issue, but for every out that is made in foul territory, A's starters are throwing that many fewer pitches during the course of the season.
Like with any other home field advantage, the home team has learned how to exploit the advantage, with A's pitchers climbing the ladder in an attempt to force the batter to popup the ball and get a cheap out.
No. 8: Tal's Hill - Minute Maid Park
Named after team president Tal Smith, Tal's Hill is among the oddest and most challenging fielding obstacles in all of the majors.
The field was inspired by the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, which had a 15-degree incline in left field known as the terrace. The Astros took the idea to the next level though, with a sharp 30-degree incline coming right off of the warning track.
Many a center fielder has fallen on the hill, and a big reason why current Astros center fielder Michael Bourn took home his first Gold Glove last season is his ability to play the hill.
So while it may not always be a deciding factor in a game's outcome, Tal's Hill is certainly an adventure for visiting outfielders.
No. 7: The Rally Monkey - Angel Stadium
The Rally Monkey, made famous during the Angels World Series run in 2002, originally got its start on June 6th, 2000.
With the Angels trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth against the San Francisco Giants, scoreboard operators Dean Fraulino and Jaysen Humes took a clip from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective of a monkey and imposed "Rally Monkey" over it. The Angels scored two runs to win the game, and a legend was born.
Perhaps the best known Rally Monkey sighting was during Game Six of the 2002 World Series when the Angels trailed 5-0 through seven innings and were facing elimination. After the Rally Monkey made an appearance, the Angels scored six straight runs to win the game and went on to win the series.
Anything that can bring the entire ballpark together to get behind the team for a rally is always an advantage, and that is exactly what the Rally Monkey does.
No. 6: The Wind - Wrigley Field
There may be nowhere in all of Chicago that better illustrates the nickname "Windy City" than Wrigley Field.
The direction of the wind is different on any given day at the Friendly Confines and is very noticeable thanks to the outfield flags, and depending on what way they're blowing can completely change the face of a game.
When the wind is howling in, a pitcher's duel will almost certainly ensue, while 7-6 games are the norm on days when the wind is howling out.
The effects of the wind go beyond the offensive side of the ball though, as opposing fielders often struggle with what would normally be a routine fly ball, as it is blown several feet from where it should land.
No. 5: The Phillies Faithful - Citizens Bank Park
As much as fans of other teams would hate to admit it, myself among them, the Phillies have perhaps the most dedicated and the craziest fans in all of baseball.
The Phillies routinely sell-out their stadium, and the past two seasons they have actually averaged over 102 percent attendance. Phillies fans come out in force, and with the recent success of the team, they have only been more enthusiastic.
So while it is the players on the field that make the plays, having a fan base like the Phillies do can go a long way towards getting a team fired up for a game, and giving every game a playoff-type atmosphere.
No. 4: The Pitcher's Park - Petco Park
Baseball people tend to like to dub a stadium as a "hitter's park" or a "pitcher's park", but the Padres' Petco Park is the very definition of a pitcher's park.
In six full seasons since it was opened, the Park has finished last in the league in runs scored four times and second to last the other two seasons. Further, it has ranked last or second to last in HR hit five of those six seasons as well.
This has not translated to success for the Padres as a team, but has given some less than stellar Padres pitching staffs a chance to at least be competitive.
No. 3: The Green Monster - Fenway Park
The Green Monster may be among the most recognizable landmarks in all of baseball, and has been added onto over the years since Fenway Park opened in 1912.
Originally made of wood, the 37’2” wall went to tin and concrete before settling on the hard plastic that it is today in 1976. Aside from the material, the team has also added the scoreboard, and most recently the seating since it was first erected.
While some would look at the wall as a deterrent rather than an advantage, many Red Sox players over the years have learned to use the wall to their advantage. For every line-drive home run that hits the wall, there are two fly outs that turn into double once they bang off the wall.
This plays clearly plays to the Red Sox favor, as their hitters learn to take the ball to left field whenever possible. They are taught early too, as the Low-A and Double-A fields both have similar walls in left field.
No. 2: The Thin Air - Coors Field
The thin mountain air of Colorado does not play nearly as big of a factor as it used to, but does still effect the game.
After routinely leading the league in home run frequency, it was determined that it was the dry air, not the thin air, which influenced the ball. A drier ball is hard, and thus travels further off of the bat. So, starting in 2002, the Rockies began storing balls in a humidor to cut down on this effect.
Nonetheless, the elevation still plays a role, as the thin air not only helps the ball travel but also tends to flatten out a pitcher’s breaking pitches. Because of this, the Rockies rotation is often made up of sinkerball pitchers, with Aaron Cook being the perfect example of someone built to pitch in Colorado.
No. 1: The Short Porch - Yankee Stadium
At just 314 feet away, there are few spots in all of baseball that beckon hitters more than the short right field at Yankee Stadium.
With a virtually unlimited payroll to sign the game's top sluggers, the Yankees have built a lineup that is tailor made to hit the long ball at their stadium. That was evident last season, as seven players topped 20 HR and they launched a whopping 244 as a team.
Despite all the fancy bells and whistles of the new Yankee Stadium, the team kept the same dimension that the "House That Ruth Built" had, and that gives them the most significant home field advantage around.