Sunday, May 24, 2009

Home Court/Field Advantage

Dave and I were chatting about baseball and basketball playoffs. He mentioned that there are more upsets in baseball than basketball meaning home field advantage is less of an advantage in baseball.

This is interesting because it seems that baseball would have more advantage due to the home team always having the last scoring opportunity and the fields are not standardized like they are in other sports.

First off, I would need to compare actual data to see if HCA is significantly different (number of upsets) in baseball than other sports. Secondly, if there is a difference, then I would need to make a testable model. 

Some preliminary ideas I have are that due to the simultaneous offense and defense in baseball or that baseball has a slower pace therefore crowd fed momentum may be less influential. Or perhaps scoring in baseball is driven primarily by consecutive hits instead of one time attempts in basketball. 

Any other hypotheses out there? 


  1. I wasn't saying that there are more upsets; just noting that the "home team" seems to be more heavily favored in basketball and football than in baseball, which seems counterintuitive. I don't have data to back this up, but in 2008 the team with the best home record was 57-24, or 70%. In basketball the best home record was 39-2, or 95%. That may have been an outlier, but still, I think it is consistently above 80 or 85%. Maybe we should look at the delta between home and away winning percentages. The baseball team reference above that won 70% of its home games only won 50% of its road games. The basketball team won 66% on the road; a much larger drop off. What is going on? The court dimensions are identical. The standards are named that for a reason. Maybe it has to do with all the fans enthusiasm being bottled up indoors. So what if a zealous owner bought a majority of seats to away games, and filled those seats with home town fans? If that is the difference could he not win a lot more games?

  2. I think Jeff's ideas are on track. It would be an interesting study.

  3. How about this Dave, in baseball, the away team plays three consecutive games right? This is unique in sports. You could compare away wins in the first game vs the following two.

    How are the playoffs in the MLB? 22111 or 232 or 221?

    Another thing I have thought about is travel time compared to recovery time. This would be hard to find data for - but if a team travels for 4 hours then plays 24 hours later, are they less likely to lose than if they played the same day?