There is a lot of talk about Home Field Advantage (with CAPITAL letters), and what the Twins should or should not sacrifice to get it. Let’s put this quickly in perspective.
Last night I tweeted that while Home Field Advantage would be nice, I doubt it’s that important. After all, the Twins lost 2 of 3 vs the Yankees at home earlier this year, and they lost 3 of 4 against Tampa Bay at home, too. And immediately, the stats guys want to talk about small sample size, because after all, that Twins are 48-23 at home.
But that’s the thing about small sample size – it’s in the eye of the beholder. If I’m talking to a Yankee fan, that 48-23 record is also a small sample size. Historically, home teams win about 55% of games vs. 45% that visiting teams win. So by playing at home, a team wins about 10% more.
Not that it matters much. The Twins aren’t too far off of that number right now. They have won 68% of their games at home and 53% of their games on the road. So they’re about 15% better at home. I’ll let you conclude which of those numbers – 10% or 15% – you trust more based on small sample size.
Note that isn’t a 10-15% increase in EVERY game. It’s a 10-15% increase in ONE game. That’s all the more advantage a home team ever gets – they never play more than one extra game at home during a series. Also, it’s not for the entire playoffs. It’s only for the ALCS (the 2nd round). The Twins have basically clinched home field advantage for the 1st round, and the World Series schedule was determined by the All-Star Game (which the NL won).
So the question is, would resting the position players and juggling the rotation increase the Twins chances of advancing in the playoffs more than having a 10%-15% advantage in Game 7 of the ALCS? (If, of course, you get there.)
Frankly, I can’t believe it’s even a debate. Home field advantage (lower case letters) might be fun to beat one’s chest about, but it’s not a particularly significant factor, and might be none at all.