Friday, September 21, 2007

Home field advantage

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't really feel too strongly about whether the Sox take the Wild Card vs. the AL East. Obviously, winning the division would be awesome, but the Yankees are in a 63-33 run, which is pretty damn hard to compete with, and losing serious ground to a team like that does not constitute a choke. Check out this piece of ridiculousness comparing the Sox 2007 season to 1978. Note that the words "wild" and "card", which are kind of important when discussing the playoffs, don't appear until about 3/4 of the way down.

Just about the only argument that makes any sense why the Sox "need" to win the division is the home field advantage that comes with it. So: does it matter? The Sox offense is way better at home (AL rank in parentheses):

HOME: .295 BA (4th), .378 OBP (2nd), .459 SLG (3rd), .838 OPS (2nd), 71 HR
AWAY: .263 BA (10th), .344 OBP (3rd), 419 SLG (6th), .763 OPS (6th), 80 HR

But check out their pitching stats:

HOME: 4.18 ERA (6th), 2.50 K/BB (4th), .261 BAA (5th), .726 OPSA (5th)
AWAY: 3.57 ERA (1st, by a lot), 2.20 K/BB (3rd), .233 BAA (1st, by a lot), .684 OPSA (1st, by a lot)

I have no idea what this means; and I don't have time to look these numbers up for only August-September. But it would seem to suggest that either (1) with the exception of HR, Fenway is still very much a hitter's park, or (2) we have the right hitters but the wrong pitchers for Fenway.

Either way, given these differences I'd expect not too much of a road-home split in wins. But it's huge: they're 47-28 at home, 43-35 away.


  1. Earl makes a good argument. The other thing that irks me is that I would like to see the Sox firing on all cylinders as they hit the post-season. I know the Tigers limped into the post-season last year and made it to the big game, but they lost big once they got there. I think the Yankees and the Angels have a huge psychological advantage, because they have been playing well. That is what scares me the most. I just don't see Manny coming back firing anybody up, unless of course he hits a ton of homers or just whacks the crap out of the ball.

  2. I totally agree with Dino. The important thing is to be playing well when heading into the playoffs. If the Yanks go 9-0 to win the division, but the Sox go 7-2, with some good pitching along the way, Manny and Youk coming back, and the pen shaping up, that would not be as bad as.

    CLE have been playing great as well. And with two good pitchers and a solid pen, they will be tough as well. And right now, even the division does not guarantee home field.

    All this 1978 stuff is awful. The yanks went something like 40-12 to finish that season. Pretty sick. and sure the sox got swept in that awful series, but they also win the last 7 or 8 games of the season to force the tie.

    Oh well, tonight was nice.

  3. Except: several teams limp into the postseason and do just fine. Sure, the Tigers lost last year, but the Cardinals - who had an even worse last couple weeks - won. The 2005 White Sox, who basically clinched the Central in May, nearly lost it to the Twins in September. The 2000 Yankees had an atrocious last couple weeks (worst in history by a playoff team, let alone a WS winner), being stuck on Magic Number 1 for over a week. (It was a Sox loss, not a Yankee win, that finally did it for them).javascript:void(0)
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  4. Was that the 2000 Yanks or the 2001 team? I always thought it was 2001, but I'm sure you are right.

    I know what CAN happen. It just would make things less scary heading if the playoffs started today. Especially in Boston, where everything is life and death. In STL last year, they limped in and probably played pretty loose, with an uber supportive fan base. Ditto for DET who was making their first post season appearance in someting like 15 years. The phrase "happy to be there" does not exist in Boston.

    But your right. Beckett and Schilling could dominate games one and two and they could go from there..

    The other thing is dice K could now be set up to pitch on the next 4 saturdays (assuming the team keeps going), giving him the much talked about extra rest. Of course he needs to actually pitch better with that rest (which starts today).

  5. That is interesting stuff Earl. Once again, what seems like common sense certainly doesn't add up when you look at all the facts. To X's point, I think the "psychological" advantage might just be with the fan base. So, yea I would be less worried if the team were playing well. That said, it looks like we will make the playoffs and maybe almost losing the division will light a fire under the Sox? Who knows?