Sunday, October 20, 2013

How important is home field advantage in the World Series?


Won with Home Field Advantage (since 1980)
4-0: 1989 A's, 1990 Reds, 1998 Yankees, 2004 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox, 2007 Red Sox, 2012 Giants
4-1: 1983 Orioles, 1988 Dodgers, 2000 Yankees, 2010 Giants
4-2: 1980 Phillies, 1993 Blue Jays, 1995 Braves, 1996 Yankees, 2009 Yankees
4-3: 1982 Cardinals, 1985 Royals, 1986 Mets, 1987 Twins, 1991 Twins, 1997 Marlins, 2001 Diamondbacks, 2002 Angels, 2011 Cardinals

Won without Home Field Advantage (since 1980)
4-0: 1999 Yankees
4-1: 1984 Tigers, 2006 Cardinals, 2008 Phillies
4-2: 1981 Dodgers, 1992 Blue Jays, 2003 Marlins
4-3: None

Teams with home field advantage in World Series since 1980: 25-7

There have been 11 times where a road has been able to close out a series in Game 6, and they were 3-8 in these games.  Every single one of the teams that lost Game 6 went on to lose Game 7.  It wasn't always guaranteed that the home team would win Game 7: from 1955-1979, road teams won Game 7 in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979 (home teams won in 1960, 1964 and 1973).

Of the 7 teams that won without home field advantage, the only one who won the first 2 games were the 1999 Yankees.  Five of the six remaining teams split the first 2 games, while the 1981 Dodgers lost the first 2 games. 

The template most likely to get the Cardinals to a championship is probably the one they used in 2006: split in Boston, then win the next 3 in St. Louis.  If they return to Boston leading 3-2, they'll have a shot to close it out in Game 6, but it'll be tough.  If Boston forces a Game 7, St. Louis will try to become the first team since the 1979 Pirates to win Game 7 on the road.  If they return to Boston trailing 3-2, recent history suggests they'll be toast.

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