Saturday, April 30, 2016


Just a few odd facts and figures here, nothing elaborate or in any way comprehensive. The first thing that leaps out is the disappearance of the home field advantage (at least thus far in 2016):

AL teams at home: .509 WPCT
NL teams at home: .457 WPCT (!!!)

That last stat is not a misprint. We have some NL teams having an incredibly tough time winning at home. First, the Atlanta Braves, who, of course, are off to a disastrous start but who've done most of their self-gravedigging at home (1-12). Then, the Miami Marlins, playing much better overall but struggling at home (2-7). And the T
T, usually built to play well in their home field, but not doing that thus far in 2016 (4-7).

This would be more readily explainable if the NL were tanking in interrelate games, but the weird thing is that they aren't (at least not yet): as of this morning, they actually have a 15-13 lead over the AL. (They are only 7-8 vs. AL teams at home, however.)

It's inconceivable that the NL will keep this up all year, but at the moment they rank 234th out of 234 league-years in terms of home field "advantage." The next closest "home non-advantage" occurred in the 1953 AL, when home teams posted a .491 WPCT. (Three other leagues had sub-.500 home records, all in the NL--in 1917, 1923, and 1972.)

Meanwhile, the AL isn't doing all that well in this area, either. Their home WPCT thus far in 2016 is only .509. That ranks 223rd out of 234 league-years.

Last season the leagues had very normal home WPCTs: .540 in the NL, .543 in the AL.

Then we have the Chicago Cubs. Of course, the mainstream media has expected them to dominate the NL this year, and April has been like a dream. Their 17-5 mark after 22 games is second only to the 1907 team, which began 18-4 (we are omitting nineteenth-century incarnations. This year's Cubs are having a better start than the 1906 team (16-6) which went on to win 116 games.

But underlying that incredible start are some other numbers that might be worth some pondering. These are related to the home WPCT stats we were looking at above. The chart at left shows the record for all MLB teams when they play at home against "good teams" (those with a .500+ WPCT). Over all of baseball history, this WPCT is under .500 (the exact WPCT is .479). As you can see, this year that WPCT is, again, down near historical lows (.404). Only 1912 (.375) and 1954 (.380) are lower than the current 2016 home record against good teams. (Last year, this particular WPCT was we have another astonishing reversal on our hands.)

What's interesting is which team you don't see on that list. That's right: the Cubs have yet to play a single game at home against a good team. Now, the Braves have already played thirteen--that's all of their home games (and, as you might recall, they are 1-12 at home). Six other teams have already played 10+ games at home against good teams.

Of course, some of these numbers are likely to change as certain teams move over or under .500, but it's still striking to see that some of the Cubs' start has to be seen as scheduling fortune.

We can see the corollary in the opposite breakout--teams' records thus far at home against "bad teams" (those with WPCT of .499-). Instead of there being only one team missing from the list, there are seven missing here (yes, the Braves being one of them: some of the other teams who've yet to play a bad team at home are the Oakland A's, the Los Angeles Angels, the Houston Astros, the San Diego Padres, and the Chicago White Sox).

Now, as noted, this will change and some of this will even out...but it really is striking that there have been so many more games played in home parks against good teams this month (203 as of 4/28, compared with just 122 against bad teams--that's a 66% difference).

This is such a big difference that it simply may be a scheduling aberration; we will try to keep tabs on this as the season unfolds to see if we have another month like this where the opposite type of result occurs. (And we will try to figure out a way to go back and recalculate these numbers at the year's end to see how much this April data may change as a result of teams jumping categories when they move over or under .500.)

But for now, the season has begun as a blazing anomaly--and wouldn't it be something if it actually stayed that way?