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MLB Playoffs 2017: Home field advantage could help spark a Cubs comeback

Home teams have a .750 winning percentage so far this postseason.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Home-field advantage in baseball is something rarely discussed as anything meaningful.

One reason for this is that, according to this Fangraphs article, the winning percentage of home teams has been remarkably stable for at least a century:

The road winning percentage of visiting teams was .461 in the 1910s. Road winning percentage stands at .464 to date in the 2010s. Road winning percentage has remained consistent over the decades.

This doesn’t change much in the postseason, according to the same article:

Sports on Earth found that there have been 154 best-of-seven series in MLB history following “the current 2-3-2 home-field pattern.” The team with home-field advantage has won 85 of those series, good for a .552 winning percentage.

The Sports On Earth article was written before the 2016 postseason, and the Fangraphs article is from January 2017. The team with home field in the three seven-game series played last year won two of them, both of the LCS. The World Series was won by the Cubs, who did not have home-field advantage. Those results increase the overall percentage noted above to .554.

And now we are in a postseason where home teams, so far, have gone 18-6. Based on the notes above, that would seem to be an extreme anomaly. In this year’s postseason, just one teams has won more than one postseason road game: the Cubs, who won twice in Washington. The home team has won all five games played so far in the championship-series round.

How does this compare to last year? In 2016, home teams went 16-19 (.457) in the postseason, far below what you’d expect. Six of those 19 road wins were accomplished by the Cubs, who won one game in San Francisco, two in Los Angeles and three in Cleveland. That’s the same number of road wins that all visiting teams have, to date, in the 2017 postseason, and home teams have already won more games this year than they did in the entire 2016 postseason.

I’m telling you all this because the current trend — and granted, it’s a minor one — would seem to indicate the Cubs have a pretty good chance of still making a go at winning the NLCS.

In addition, the Cubs’ overall record against the Dodgers over the last three seasons would seem to give them a shot at coming back in this series. The two teams have played 28 times since the beginning of the 2015 season, 20 in the regular season, eight times in the postseason. And home teams have dominated this matchup.

In the regular season since 2015, the Cubs are 9-11 vs. the Dodgers. Breakdown: 7-4 at Wrigley Field, 2-7 at Dodger Stadium.

In the postseason since 2015, the Cubs are 4-4 vs. the Dodgers: Breakdown: 2-1 at Wrigley Field, 2-3 at Dodger Stadium.

Thus overall since 2015, the Cubs are 13-15 vs. the Dodgers. Breakdown: 9-5 at Wrigley Field, 4-10 at Dodger Stadium.

Granted, they’ll have to win at least one game in Los Angeles in order to win the series. But their record against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field would seem to indicate that the Cubs have a very good chance to send the series back to Los Angeles for Game 6.