Friday, September 17, 2004
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Red Sox is a virtual lock for the playoffs (knock on wood) and so two are the MFY. Hence, the A.L. East crown is for home field advantage and a psychological advantage over each other if the pair advances past the first round. With no way to reasonably measure any an advantage in the mind game, let's take a look at the home and away stats for the MFY and Sox.
The Sox have won 51 games at home out of 88 wins or 58%. On the other hand, the MFY have won 54% of their games at home (Twins - 53%, Oaktown - 58% and the O.C. - 49%). It appears that the Sox would have more of an advantage playing three out of five at Fenway than the MFY.
It has been reported that the inventor of the DIPS concept and Sox consultant, Voros McCraken, was given the assignment to find hitters that would be more successful at Fenway than the average player. It seems like the Sox have done a good job with the acquisitions of Ferris B. Mueller (990/648) and Kevin Millar (1026/676). It is reflected in the club's numbers too. The Sox average 6.3 runs at Fenway and 5.3 on the road. It is no fluke either. The team has hit 262/344/444 on the road and 305/378/507 at friendly Fenway. A full run per game is significant over the long haul.
On the other hand, the MFY average 5.3 runs in the beautiful? Bronx and 5.7 on the road. The MFY hitting splits are basically the same at 267/351/455 at home and 272/359/464 away. Since both MFY Stadium and Fenway are essentially neutral parks, the Sox would have more of an advantage playing an extra game in Beantown than the MFY in the Bronx.
Neither club has a big split on the run prevention side of the game. The good guys have given up 4.7 runs at home and 4.4 away, while the MFY yield 4.7 at the Stadium and 5.3 on the road. The Sox and MFY defense independent pitching stats splits, K/9, K/BB, and HR/9, are fairly similar. Thus, it can be reasoned that the difference in home and away run prevention is mostly due to the glove work and park configuration. Regardless, it should not be much of a factor in a five or seven game series. (Intuitively, the MFY must have a disadvantage playing Sheffield, the weaker defender, in right field on the road since in most parks; your stronger defensive player usually patrols the area behind the second baseman. But I have no data to support my theory, and it certainly would not account for a half of run difference on a strikeout staff.)
Of course, any club would have an advantage playing in front of their fans in a comfortable environment. It appears the Sox would benefit more than the MFY and most clubs given the way they pound the ball at Fenway. But the advantage is only ONE game, IF it goes to a deciding game. It is not a big deal. Anything can happen in a short series.
"The way he changes speeds and moves the ball around the plate - in and out, up and down - it makes it really, really hard to hit," said Javy Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles.
"I've always had a hard time, because it's hard to pick up his slider. You see the slider and the fastball pretty much the same. You only can tell if it's a slider when the ball is almost right on top of you."
I can't wait to see El Duker tonight. Is he for real? Hopefully not.
Programming notice: The late end to Wednesday's game, my PC crashing, an auto issue, and no clean underwear lead to no Sox comments yesterday.