World Series 2011: Which Team Has Biggest Home-Field Advantage in Their Park?
Since 2003, when Major League Baseball began awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that won that year's All-Star Game, home-field advantage in the World Series has been nonexistent.
In those eight seasons, the team with home-field advantage has a record of four wins and four losses. This year's World Series, however, offers the possibility of both teams benefiting dramatically from home-field advantage at their own parks.
St. Louis Cardinals
In this year's Series, home-field advantage belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, thanks to the National League's 5-1 victory in the All-Star Game.
The Cardinals didn't benefit in games played in Busch Stadium this year; the Cards were 45-36 both at home and on the road. Yet they will still find one significant advantage over the Rangers in games played in St. Louis: the lack of a designated hitter.
Every National League team has some degree of advantage over their American League opponent when a game is played without the designated hitter.
National League pitchers get a far greater number of at bats during the regular season, and thus they are better prepared to bat in the postseason.
What makes the Rangers pitchers particularly vulnerable is their young age and lack of experience with major league hitting.
Four pitchers have started games this postseason for Texas: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. The four pitchers combined have only 40 career at-bats, and this season they have only 21.
By comparison, the Cardinals least-experienced starting pitcher, Jake Westbrook, has 86 career at-bats, while Chris Carpenter leads the team with 433.
The greater experience held by the Cardinals pitchers in batting give them a small but important advantage over the Rangers.
The Cardinals will also not have to contend with the difficult decision the Rangers must race: what to do with designated hitter Michael Young. Though Young has not had a particularly noteworthy postseason, he is coming off of a season in which he batted .338 with 11 home runs.
Young is capable of playing in the field at several positions, but the Rangers will have to decide which of their players to bench during games in St. Louis.
The Cards will face no such difficulty, and will benefit from adding one of the hitters from their deep bench during games in Texas. This problem is not unique to the Rangers, but is faced by every American League team that makes it to the World Series.
Unlike the Cardinals, the Rangers have gained a significant advantage over their opponents when playing in Arlington. The Rangers, a respectable 44-37 on the road, jumped to 52-29 when playing at home. The team has also scored 39.5 percent more runs at home than on the road, or 1.74 more runs per game.
The Cardinals, by contrast, actually scored far more runs on the road than they did at home, a result of Busch Stadium favoring pitchers.
Though the Rangers actually allow more runs to score at home than on the road (for example, ace C.J. Wilson's ERA at home is 3.69, while on the road he is 2.31), that number is dwarfed by the offensive surge the Rangers experience at home.
For home games in 2011, the Rangers averaged 6.15 runs per game scored while allowing an average of 4.91. On the road, the Rangers averaged 4.41 runs scored, while allowing 3.44.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, scored an average of 4.32 runs per game at home while allowing 4.16. On the road, the Cards scored 5.09 runs per game while allowing 4.38 runs per game.
These numbers indicate that the Rangers are likely to score somewhere between 4.38 and 6.15 runs per game at home and allow between 4.91 and 5.09 runs. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are likely to score between 3.44 and 4.32 runs while allowing between 4.41 and 4.38 runs.
This gives the Rangers an average win of 5.265 runs to 5.0 runs at home, and the Cardinals an average loss of 3.88-4.40 in St. Louis.
Thus, though the Rangers advantage at home over the Cardinals is only slight, the Cardinals actually are at a disadvantage in St. Louis.
Predicting who will have a greater home-field advantage in the World Series is tricky, as recent history suggests that home-field advantage has been far from decisive when all the marbles are up for grabs.
While the Rangers have dominated in their home stadium far more than the Cardinals have this year, the advantage the Cards have in their experience of playing without a designated hitter will benefit them as it does every National League that plays in the World Series.
Both teams have an advantage at home, but the overall difference is insignificant enough that the best team should win the World Series, not necessarily the team with the home-field advantage.
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