Aug
30

The advantages of playing at home

By

As the games melt away from the 2010 baseball season, the Yanks’ grip on a playoff spot grows stronger. The Bombers are 6.5 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox with 32 left to play and share an AL East lead with the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, one of the two beasts of the east can win the division, and the crown this year carries a steep price. The winner will secure home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS while the loser will likely end up with the second-best record in the American League and no home field advantage at all.

For the Yankees, the schedule, as I’ve written a few times this month, isn’t on their side. I’ve updated the spreadsheet of remaining games to include the results from the past week, and if anything, the Rays’ schedule has gotten easier after they took two of three from Boston. For the Yankees, they play 32 games against teams with a combined winning percentage of .522. On the season, the Yanks are 36-22 against these teams, and if they duplicate those results in September, they’ll end up with 99 wins and 63 losses. That should be good enough to win the AL East.

Tampa Bay, however, has other plans in mind. The Rays have 32 games left against teams with a combined .480 winning percentage, and the AL upstarts are 42-24 against these competitors this year. If Tampa Bay duplicates those results, they’ll end up with a record of 100 wins and 62 losses. Baseball Prospectu’s Playoff Odds report doesn’t see either team reaching that 100-win plateau, but gives Tampa that one-game edge in the standings. Considering how many woulda, coulda, shoulda games the Yanks have played this year, that final regular season result would be a tough one to take.

Of course, much could change over the next five weeks, and the Yankees and Rays both seemingly control their own AL fates. The two teams meet seven times over the season’s home stretch, and if the Yanks can strike a decisive blow against Tampa, something they’ve struggled in doing this year, the AL East crown could be theirs for the taking. With Boston now on the ropes, I’m not going to root for the Rays any longer this year.

It’s all well and good to look at how the Yanks can get to October, but the division title concerns the elusive home field advantage. Does it matter if the Yanks don’t have the home-field edge this year? Make no mistake about it: The Yankees are better at home than they are on the road. At Yankee Stadium, where CC Sabathia doesn’t lose, the Yanks are 42-22; on the road, the club is a still-impressive 38-28. At Yankee Stadium, the club puts up a .367 wOBA while on the road, that mark falls to .332. The home-road split could be more significant if the Yanks must play four out of seven games in Tampa Bay where they are hitting just .229/.297/.398 this year.

Whereas the Yanks score 6 runs per game at home and just under 5 per game on the road, their pitching exhibits less drastic splits. Yankee hurlers have a higher ERA at home than they do on the road — 4.08 vs. 3.75. Because Bombers pitchers have given up a whopping 39 more home runs at home in 0.1 more innings than they have thrown on the road, we can say that Yankee Stadium giveth and Yankee Stadium taketh away.

Still, we can’t underestimate the CC effect. Despite the weaker pitching at home, CC Sabathia, the Yanks’ presumptive Game One starter, is 10-0 at home with a 2.46 ERA/3.21 FIP and 8-5 with a 3.75 ERA/3.85 FIP on the road. Never mind the pride of a division crown; I want home field advantage for the joy of watching CC Sabathia dominate in the Bronx.

With 32 games left and seven against Tampa Bay, the Yankees just need to win. They’re not yet guaranteed a playoff spot, but their October Magic Number is a cool 26. Even without bragging rights on the line, they need to gain that home field advantage for another run at a World Series trophy. The longer the standings remain knotted at the top, the more of an edge Tampa Bay gains, and so it is time to just keep on winning.

Categories : Playoffs
  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    We’re all going to laugh about this when the Rays come to YS3 for the four-game Monday-to-Thursday set September 20th-23rd down a game and drop 3 of 4 to a healthy and fully stocked Yankees club, burying them in a three game hole they can’t climb out of.

  • Jose the Satirist

    but their October Magic Number is a cool 26.

    Is the uniform countdown making a return this year?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder
      • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

        Fun fact: despite not playing a game since May 22nd, Randy Winn is still dead last on the team in bWAR among position players at -0.5.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          All he doesn’t is Winn.

          • Gonzo

            But he took Lincecum deep!

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    Related discussion question: should HFA be determined by a division win or best record? I think it should be the latter. If the WC team has a better record than the division winner it faces, it should play at home. Agree? Disagree?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Probably, but I guess the thinking is that without the Wild Card, that fourth team wouldn’t make the playoffs. Thus, they should be satisfied with the 4th seed. It’s not quite logically consistent considering that, under a two-division league, only Texas or Minnesota and not both would make the playoffs.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Wild card teams should get 0 home games in the 1st round.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          That’s not enough. They should get negative 1 home games, and start the best of 5 in an 0-2 hole. And no DH, and in the NL, no leftfielder.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Also, make all the pitchers throw with the opposite hand(in a land of 1-armed pitchers, Venditte is king).

            Maybe a bit harsh. 1 home game. 2-1-2 format.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              All jokes aside, I don’t care for your idea. The difference between a division champion and a wild card team is usually what, less than 5 games?

              The two best teams in each league should get HFA, irrespective of how they qualified for the playoffs. And HFA means one more home game, not three. May the best team win.

              • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                2nd place deserves punishment.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Agreed. We just define second place differently.

                  You look at a 99-63 Rays team that came in behind the 100-62 Yankees and say they finished in second. I look at that same Rays team and see that both Texas and Minnesota have fewer wins than they do and say both Texas and Minnesota came in second to the Rays.

                  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                    If they are so good then they should have no problem winning 2 games on the road.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      The same can be said of the Oh So Mighty Champions of the Ruggedly Impossible to Conquer AL Central and West.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      HFA for the World Series should go to the winner of the All Star Game.

      HFA for the LCS rounds should go to the team that has the most previous winning participants of all prior PCL/IL AAA All Star Games.

      HFA for the LDS should go to the team that has the 25-man active roster mean birthplace proximity geographically closest to the winner of the Little League World Series of that year.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Hire this man.

      • Jose the Satirist

        “HFA for the LDS should go to the team that has the 25-man active roster mean birthplace proximity geographically closest to the winner of the Little League World Series of that year.”

        Reason #2344 why we should have kept Matsui.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Kei Igawa is still available to be added to the playoff roster, you know.

        • Thomas

          Finally, Igawa has a use.

          • Thomas

            I clearly should have refreshed my browser before posting this.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              It’s okei.

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

        HFA for the LDS should go to the team that has the 25-man active roster mean birthplace proximity geographically closest to the winner of the Little League World Series of that year.

        WEST COAST BIAS!

      • Tank Foster

        How about doing away with all the crap and having a single AL and single NL division, and choosing the top 4 teams. Evenly balanced schedule, no “division rivalries.”

        Adopt (or eliminate, I don’t care) DH rule in both leagues.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Meh, too much. People like divisional rivalries, it gives them a place to localize their hatred. It’s too hard to hate 13-15 other teams, much easier to just detest 3 or 4.

  • KofH

    What about Swish? Seems like he’s not 30-5 away/home like last year.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Home: .285/.356/.482 in 253 PA with 11 HR
      Road: .303/.377/.557 in 278 PA with 13 HR

      His BABIP is .032 higher on the road than at home which can explain a lot of the difference in the two lines this year.

  • Rob

    I’ll gladly take the Wild Card. In fact, let the Rays have it and rest the old guys. I’d much rather face the Twins than the Cliff Lee All-Stars. The Wild Card gets the best Division winner and the Twins have the better balanced team and an easier road.

  • Hughesus Christo

    We’re the effing Yankees. We fear no man, nor Ranger, nor Twin, nor Ray (Devil or otherwise).

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      (passes out bayonets)

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      They.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      Post of the Decade. Everyone, read this, then grab a bayonet.

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    Honestly, while I think Ben has good points in this article (though the hitting in Tampa thing is likely a SSS), I don’t think one of the reasons we should be worrying about the division/WC is what team we play. I mean, I was dying to play the fading Tigers in 2006, and look what happened.

    Also, at this point in time, the Rangers’ and Twins’ records are too close to definitively say what team gets the ALE winner and what team gets the WC winner. And I think both teams are really good, but we’ve handled both well, so it’s not an issue there.

    We beat whoever we play, though. >:D

    • https://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      We beat whoever we play, though. >:D

      You’re right, Bexy, but the easier road is much better than the hard one. Liriano and Lee is a wash, but the Rangers rotation and bullpen >>>>>> Twins Rotation and bullpen. Combine that with a Morneau-less lineup, and they’re easily the weaker target.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Rangers post ASB team ERA: 3.79
        Twins post ASB team ERA: 3.50

        The worm is turning. C.J. Wilson is the only Rangers starter with a sub 3.00 ERA; Harden is the only other one under 4.00. Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis have been utterly meh lately, Hunter/Feldman/Holland have been much worse.

        The Twins, meanwhile, back up Liriano with an effective Pavano (3.41 ERA post-break), Scott Baker (3.83), Brian Duensing (2.83), and Kevin Slowey (3.79). And their Capps/Fuentes/Guerrier/Crain/Rauch/Mahay/Manship bullpen is just as stout as Texas’s.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          That, I have no idea why people are writing off the Twins other than that we usually own them. I feel like we could handle their pitching better than Texas’, but it’s just a gut thing.

          And Steve, you kind of missed the original point of my post, that people have been saying “Win the division = we play Minnesota and that’s easier.” I think there are definite advantages to winning the division, but right now, the potential opponent isn’t really one of them. For one, their records are too close to definitively say who’d face the WC and who’d face the ALE winner, and for another, I think they’re both very good teams.

          Actually, if the playoffs started tonight, we’d be playing Minnesota… as the Wild Card. I could possibly be wrong on that, but I think it’s true :X

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Actually, if the playoffs started tonight, we’d be playing Minnesota… as the Wild Card. I could possibly be wrong on that, but I think it’s true :X

            You are wrong on that, yes.

            The playoffs don’t start tonight, they start October 5th.

            /deliberate’d

            • nsalem

              If its not snowing in Minnesota.

              • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                heh, I forgot that. Target Field during the playoffs is gonna be fun.

          • Mike HC

            You are right that it is too close predict how it will play out. The Yanks should just be focused on winning games and getting/staying healthy.

            But if you had to choose an opponent, I think Minn is the pick. If only for the fact that you would avoid having to travel to Texas, which is a more taxing trip than to Minn. I think travel plays a big role in a Texas vs New York series.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          Power pitching wins in the playoffs though. I’d personally rather face the Twins, especially considering Morneau might be out for the year.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Power pitching wins in the playoffs though.

            Only if it’s actually pitching well, though.

  • Cam

    It’s amazing that Hughes has almost half of all those HRs allowed at home.

  • Anthony

    Where is the magic number countdown on the sidebar?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I’m hoping it appears on September 1st.

  • Anthony

    Jesus Montero should be called up right away. With the world ending in 2012 it doesn’t matter if his clock is started now.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      (scans post)
      (realizes Jesus Montero is not mentioned)
      (directs Anthony here)

      • CS Yankee

        guity as well for my reply

        (hangs head in shame)

      • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

        If I put it on that post it would not be seen by anyone.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          That sounds like a “you” problem.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          That’s not the point, Anthony. We have commenting guidelines and enforce off-topic comments pretty rigorously around RAB. Thanks for your understanding.

          • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

            Got it.

    • CS Yankee

      This, winning this year is everything.

      If Montero was going to be traded for two month lease of Lee at least put him on the 40 and get him some MLB pitching before October.

      Logically,
      if Lee (10+ starts & postseason) >>> Montero’s Yankee career
      then…
      Montero (for 30 days & possible postseason) >>> WDLR or whatever other limited prospect is at the bottom of the 40.

      #28 is about the next 60 days, #29 cannot begin without having #28.

      Your only as good as your last pitch!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Your argument is sound, but that first premise is flawed.

  • Mike HC

    I think it is a relative big deal to win the division. There is still respect and honor in winning the division, rather than being the wild card team. Plus, winning the division means you had a better team throughout the regular, even if only by a game or two. I would like to think the Yanks were the best regular season team in the league. And home field advantage of course. There is plenty to play for and win even with a playoff spot all but locked up.

    • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

      I think it’s more important to have all of your players ready to go and healthy for the postseason then whether you finish the season as the division winner or wild card winner. It would definetely be a bonus to win the division, but as long as this season ends up with #28, that’s all that matters.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Agreed.

        There’s honor in winning the division, yes, but the ultimate honor is winning it all, and you can win it all either as a division champ or as a wild card. Either route is honorable.

      • Mike HC

        How much does staying healthy have to effect winning games. In reality, only Jeter, ARod and Posada should even be in the discussion on sitting games and resting for the postseason, and even then, how many do they really need to miss. Maybe sit once or twice a piece in September.

        I highly doubt the Yanks start aggressively resting guys, more than they have been, if they are in the middle of a pennant race. I just don’t see it. Winning the division does mean something.

        • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

          I don’t think that they will aggressively rest guys, but that they will be given occasional days off and be pulled out more often later in games. Also the starters I think will not stay in the games as long, and not go that far past the century mark with all the extra arms in the bullpen come September 1st.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I’d like to give our starters a little extra rest as well.

    • Hughesus Christo

      I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I wish I did. In my mind the Yankees and Rays have had the playoffs locked up since Pedroia’s foot exploded.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    I would actually rather face the Rangers in Texas, since Cliff Lee cannot pitch in hot weather. Also, since Lee hates Texas and already considers himself a Yankee, he’ll probably just tank it and allow the Yankees to win.

    /Cowherd’d

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Please tell me he didn’t actually say that.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        He did. How’d you miss that?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I attempt to have as little Colin Cowherd in my life as possible.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            Oh me too, but it was all over most of the general baseball sites I read.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        He didn’t say anything about tanking. But he did say Lee can’t pitch in the heat and hates the Rangers. Just wants to be with the Yankees already.

      • FIPster Doofus

        “He doesn’t care about Baltimore. He doesn’t care about Texas. When he pitches against elite teams, he is showcasing his talent. ‘Here I am. I still got it’. [Saturday] against the Orioles, he mails it in. That is a dude that gets out of town the second the season ends. He’ll get out of town, go to the Yankees and jettison the Rangers.”

        • pat

          Sounds like a plan to me.

  • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

    http://www.bostondirtdogs.com/ Look at the 1st picture on the front page. Even the Red Sox fans know they are done after the series against the Rays.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      It’s Boston Dirt Dogs. They are really dumb. They went from calling Tex a “Portuguese prince who Boston will love” or something like that when it looked like he was going to sign with them, to “an overrated DH-type” when he signed with the Yankees.

  • nsalem

    Yankees are 0-3 as wild card entrants. It is arguable that having the HFA may have yielded different results in 1995 and 1997. Though we were the Division Champs in 2005, we lost the HFA because Torre didn’t think it was necessary go all out to win game 162 and we lost a close game 5 to the Angels in the Hanky House (Thanks Joe). It would obviously be much nicer to be at home. The Game 5’s in Seattle, Cleveland and Anaheim were not very pleasant.

    • FIPster Doofus

      While winning the division and getting HFA would be ideal, that the Yankees are 0-3 as the wild card will have no bearing on this season’s outcome. Those teams were far different from this one, obviously.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        That. Just like having HFA didn’t help us too much in 2006. Also irrelevant.

      • nsalem

        Doofus of course what the Yankees did 14 years ago has no bearing on what happens this year. As clear as your feeble attempts at sarcasm.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      I’d rather win the division but the fact that the Yankees are 0-3 as WC teams doesn’t really mean much. Especially when you’re talking about 1995 and 1997.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        That’s one (and two) managers ago. Ancient history.

        Luis Polonia and Pete Incaviglia were on those teams, respectively.

        • UncleArgyle

          I totally forgot Incaviglia was on the 97 Yanks. Ah the forgotten season