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Home Team Batting First and Marlins in San Juan

Posted by Sean Forman on June 29, 2010

There were a couple of goofy ballpark issues during games the past week.

As you likely know the Phillies "hosted" the Blue Jays for a 3-game set.  The games were originally scheduled for Toronto, but were moved due to the G-8 in Toronto.  Though the games were in Philly, Toronto batted last and the DH was also used.  It took a little bit of work to get our programs to handle this case (it also happened back in Sept. 2007 in a Mariners/Indians game), so we've been showing these as Blue Jay home games.  That will now change these will be presented as Phillies home games with the home team batting first.  I believe home/road should always match the location, so that is the way are presenting them.

Second, MLB sprang a neutral site series on us with the Marlins hosting the Mets in San Juan.  For the purposes of WPA, I'm treating this as a neutral NL park, which may not be accurate, but is close enough (I believe) for this case.

33 Responses to “Home Team Batting First and Marlins in San Juan”

  1. Surly Duff Says:

    Yeah, who cares about accuracy! Just go with your gut and what you "believe". That's way better than, you know, the official home/road designations.

  2. Cutter Says:

    G-20 summit.

  3. Sean Forman Says:

    Surly Duff. So your view is that Vernon Wells home run on Saturday was a "home field" home run? And that the Blue Jays win on Saturday was a win at home?

  4. Sean Forman Says:

    FWIW, STATS LLC agrees with our reading, though MLBAM appears to not.

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There can be arguments made both ways, but what is a home/road split supposed to indicate? Players don't usually perform better at home because they are batting last, it's because they are familiar with the park. The Phillies were the road team, but they weren't playing "on the road."

    MLB "officially" says Ty Cobb has 4,191 hits (I think). Do you think this site should simply follow official dictates? exists for that. I think this site exists to present the information as accurately and fairly as possible.

    If you have a reasoned argument for how the data should be presented, I'm sure Sean will listen. As I said, I'm of two minds about it. I could almost see that the games should be included in the Phillies road record, but the stats should be counted in the players' home splits. Of course that leads to numbers not balancing.

  6. Jim Says:


    Though I dont agree with the sarcasm, I do agree with Surly Duff.

    Yes Vernon Wells' home run WAS an at "home" home run. Though it wasn't played at his ball park, his team batted last and used their (American League) rules. Home field advantage is NOT the park you play in, nor the crowd, but rather the amicable position of batting last in the game.

    The splits should be credited to the Phils road record, as they batted first in the game. However, their ball park splits should obviously reflect that of Citizens Bank Park.

  7. Sean Forman Says:

    What about the game in 2007 when the stats were credited to the Mariners as a home game and the Indians as a road game? Or did MLB get that one wrong?

    What about the fact that up until 1950 the home team could decide whether to bat first or last?

    From the retrosheet newsletter

    Although we now take it for granted that the home team bats last, this
    was only formalized in the rules in 1950. Prior to that it was the home
    team's option. It would appear that it is always advantageous to bat
    last, since it gives the chance for a sudden-death win. However, there
    are interesting cases where the expected did not occur. For example, in
    the very first game played by the New York Yankees (called the
    highlanders then), on April 22, 1903, the New Yorkers batted last
    because the home town Washington Senators chose to bat first. The
    reason for this selection was to have more chances to bat the new ball,
    which quickly lost its resilience since games in those days were often
    played with one ball for the entire contest. Ron Fisher has entered
    several games from the 1901 New York Evening Telegram and has also
    encountered cases of the home team choosing to bat first.

    Or what about the fact that batting last may not actually be an advantage.

  8. Andy Says:

    BTW Surly Duff is the modern day ImAShark. He's just goading you, Sean.

  9. nightfly Says:

    Is batting last really that much of an advantage?

    The game lasts nine innings. If you score in the bottom of the ninth to win, the game ends; in the top of the ninth, the home team takes a final turn. But it's a turn they're entitled to anyway. The only reason they don't take a normal turn in the ninth when they're ahead is that it's pointless. In a way, it's the baseball equivalent of taking a knee in the final minute of a football game. You're not getting an extra chance to win that the road team doesn't have, you're taking your normal turn if you need it.

    So I think that MLB should just go ahead and call these Phillies home games. They can bat first if MLB really feels better that way, but these games are in the Phillies' park - they don't have to stay in a hotel in an unfamiliar city (and how often does Toronto come to visit Philadelphia?), they have their fans, they have their familiar clubhouse and field and surroundings. Having "last ups" is beside the point.

    I'm not sold on the DH being the big advantage to the AL either. Some NL teams do have an extra big bat they'd love to get into the lineup more, and interleague games give them that chance. A guy you normally suffer through in left or at first moves to DH and a superior defensive player takes that spot; even if they aren't good hitters, they're going to be better than the pitcher.

  10. nightfly Says:

    LOL Sean, we cross-posted on last ups!

  11. Jim Says:

    If you ask me, batting last is a HUGE advantage, even if it just psychological.

    The thought of knowing that you will always have the last say in the game is quite nice. Being able to take a lead in the 9th inning and the opposing team not being able to have a chance to retake the lead is a big advantage.

    Obviously, there's two schools of thought on this matter and the fact is it probably only affects less than 1% of all games ever played. Its your site Sean so you can do what you want but you seemed like you were asking for input on an opposing view so I gave it. I frankly don't care which one you go with, but I like to debate such frivolties.

  12. Evan Says:


    As you may be aware there is an ongoing debate in another post about the advantages/disadvantages at play for the two leagues during interleague play because of the different rules employed by each team in its home park. Your Bats column from May 27th was referenced by Raphy in a comment and I see that the column was about the same study you reference above.

    From what I can gather the study only considers extra inning games and those that were tied after 8 because the focus was home field advantage arising from last at bat. This seems to do a good job of focusing the study on close games where home field advantage might have an impact (any home field advantage is likely just noise in games decided by more than 2 or so runs), but it may exclude two possible advantage that I could foresee in batting second.

    First, predictability of start time for the first inning. The starting pitcher for the home team knows what time his first pitch will be thrown and can tailor his warm-up accordingly. This could seemingly have a greater factor considering that many pitchers struggle in the first inning of games, but later settle down.

    Second, when playing under National League rules in a close game where both pitchers are performing well the home team's starting pitcher will often be able to pitch an additional inning over the visiting team's pitcher because his pitching efforts for any given inning take place before he would come up to bat in that inning (i.e. home team starter can pitch the 7th and be pinch hit for in the 7th, but the visitor cannot).

    Are you familiar with any research that addresses these aspects of the advantages of batting second, rather than just the "last licks" component that the above-referenced study examined?

  13. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Sean, take heart; Surly is well-named, if not well-considered.

    The last year that there were such critters as Montreal Expos, they also played several "home" games in San Juan. Montreal was recorded as the home team for those games, just as Florida must be for these.

  14. Jim Says:

    By the way, I was at Fridays game between the Phils and Jays. Who was anyone kidding by even trying to play it off as a Blue Jays home game? The announcer still went wild announcing the Phillies line up and gave dead pan for the Blue Jays. They had "Ask the Phillies" in between innings and the Phillie Phanatic even did a routine with the Canadian Mounties.

    Still, it was interesting seeing an American League style game, and it was cool seeing the first designated hitter ever in Philadelphia. Jose Bautista will be the answer to that most trivial of questions.

  15. Jeff J. Says:

    Sean says:
    "The games were originally scheduled for Toronto, but were moved due to the G-8 in Toronto."

    He was probably thinking of a grounder up the middle to the center fielder 😉

  16. Raphy Says:

    If we are more concerned with the stadium/location than the official designation, why is last night's game considered a home game for the Marlins? It wasn't played in FLA. I understand that it wasn't the Mets' ballpark, but it was just as much theirs as it was the Marlins.

  17. Jim Says:

    The game was billed as a home game because MLB scheduled a home game for the Marlins vs the Mets on that date.

    Also of note Sean et al,

    The home team does have some more rights and responsibilites than just batting last. Before a game starts, the HOME TEAM gets to decide whether to delay or postpone a game due to inclement weather. After the game starts, this role is handed to the umpire. I'm not going to go quoting the rule book but I know this to be true.

    Another thing, should the fans become un ruly or the stadium become unfit to play, the HOME TEAM must foriet the game. Theroetically speaking, if the Phillies fans had started a riot at during the Jays game, the Jays would have had to forfiet to the Phillies.

  18. Sean Forman Says:

    Another thing, should the fans become un ruly or the stadium become unfit to play, the HOME TEAM must foriet the game. Theroetically speaking, if the Phillies fans had started a riot at during the Jays game, the Jays would have had to forfiet to the Phillies.

    Jim, this just points out that the Phillies were the home team. There is no way the Blue Jays would have to forfeit.

    Also according to Kurkjian, Elias and MLB agree with our ruling.

  19. Jim Says:

    Even if the Jays would not have to forfiet, which quite frankly, there is no proof of. There are other responsibilites for the designated, offical, home team that I have mentioned.

  20. Jim Says:

    Also, Sean, I say "Phillies fans" because most of the fans there were wearing Phillies gear. However, it doesnt matter which "fans" start the trouble. The Blue Jays were the offical HOME team and the rules state that should the crowd become unruly, the game must be forfieted to the other team. See 50 cent beer night and disco demolition night for good examples.

  21. Larry R. Says:

    It's a good thing the Phils fans didn't realize the forfeiture rules...they would have been tearing the joint up all weekend!

  22. Jim Says:

    Yeah, Larry, because I think they were really unhappy with taking 2 of 3.

    Truth be told, had that kind of forfeiture rules happened, it would have been appealed down the line and probably overturned in favor of the Blue Jays given the sitatuion. However, it still remains that the inital ruling would have gone in favor of the Phillies

  23. JWL Says:

    I heard the Phillies used their regular bullpen in the PHI at TOR at PHI series. The Blue Jays used the road bullpen which is closer to the fans.

  24. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Back in 1991, the Montreal Expos had to play their last 26 games on the road because of a roof problem presenting a safety issue in Stade Olympique. This included two trips to Philadelphia. I don't recall the Phillies being required to bat first in whichever of the two series was originally supposed to be played in Montreal. I wonder if the decision to give the Blue Jays the final at bat in this past weekend's series came about as a result of some complaints having arisen from the way that long unplanned Expos rode trip was handled.

    I thought I rememberd a situation in which a Phillies home game against Houston that was going to be the Astros' last game in Philadelphia that season was rained out, and it was made up during a series that the Phillies played not too long after that in the Astrodome. That series in Houston was a weekend one - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The make-up game was part of a doubleheader on Sunday. I remember reading that normally, the doubleheader would be required by MLB rules for the first game of the series (that's why you see so many Friday twi-night doubleheaders for rain make-ups, because of further problems if later games got rained out), but an exception was made because of the series taking place in a dome.

    I tried to find this game here last week, but I couldn't find any such game within the following parameters:

    1. After I moved to Philadelphia, which was in the 1986-87 offseason, but before the combination of the split into three divisions per league (1994), interleague play (1997), and the most recent expansion (1998) cut back the number of times the Phillies and Astros played each other. I seem to recall that this was when the Phillies and Astros still met for four series - two in each city - every year. But I still went as far as 1999 in my search because of the next item.

    2. In the Astrodome era, which ended in 1999. While I'm pretty sure that Enron/Minute Maid is either also a dome or has a retractable roof, I seem to recall the Astrodome being involved here.

    3. The last series of the year between the two teams took place in Houston and was shown as a four-game series, with a doubleheader on Sunday. (While I knew that the first game in the series was not made into a doubleheader, I wasn't 100% sure that the DH was on Sunday. So I looked for a Saturday twin-bill, too.)

    4. Not 1993, because I knew what happened in every game that season for many years to come. And not 1994, either, because it was not during the strike-shortened season.

    Maybe my 58-year-old eyes are no longer what they were before, or I only imagined this happening.

    I didn't know about that September 26, 2007, game in Seattle. I wondered if I'd find someone who played in that game who also played in the Toronto/Philadelphia series just concluded. I looked mainly for guys who were in Sunday's game in Philadelphia because I was at that game. And sure enough, I found two! Raul Ibanez started as the DH for the "road team" in Seattle and again for the "road team" in Philadelphia this past Sunday. And who was playing LF, his usual position, on Sunday for the "road team"? None other than Ben Francisco, who played LF for the "home team" on 9/26/2007.

  25. Malcolm Says:

    Well when you're the Phillies and your closer is Brad Lidge, having the last at bat is really, really, REALLY nice.

  26. Fireworks Says:

    Personally I feel that you can't possibly have two teams in cities that far apart, and have one team play a designated home series in the other team's park and still call them the home team. It'd be different if the Mets for whatever reason had to play a home series against the Yankees in Yankees Stadium--it's very easy for the Mets to ensure that their fans are nearly as well-represented as they would be in Citi Field. However, a team like Toronto can't do that in Philadelphia. There should probably be a rule preventing teams like Toronto from giving teams like the Phillies three extra home games when there is just the one series that has to be impacted and it isn't a bother at all to move to a truly neutral location. There are already enough imbalances in the schedule, we don't need the lure of a big gate to trump a proper neutral site series considerations.

  27. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I actually wondered when the Philadelphia-Toronto series shift was announced why a neutral site wasn't considered. Is Stade Olympique in Montreal still standing and still in a position in which it could have been made ready in time for such games? Or maybe the ballpark in Puerto Rico where the Mets and Marlins are playing this week. Of course, prior commitments for these stadia may have prevented such scheduling.

  28. John L Says:

    Re: 27
    I also wondered that. I think all the Florida spring training sites should have been in play. Did the Devil Rays play a few regular season games in one of those ballparks a few years back or did they not?

  29. BSK Says:

    Who got the gate proceeds? Because missing 3 interleague games is a HUGE financial hole for the Blue Jays.

  30. Sean Forman Says:

    Phillies collected the gate and sold all of the tickets, but I'm sure they sent a little somethin' somethin' to the Blue Jays to compensate them for the three lost games.

  31. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I thought the Jays kept the gate and Phillies got the concessions.

  32. dunnowhat2type Says:

    I thought the purpose of home/road designations by MLB was to define who kept the gate. I remember reading something about that when they announced that the game had been moved.

  33. Penn State Clips Says:

    Another thing, should the fans become un ruly or the stadium become unfit to play, the HOME TEAM must foriet the game. Theroetically speaking, if the Phillies fans had started a riot at during the Jays game, the Jays would have had to forfiet to the Phillies.

    How can this possibly be true? I know MLB makes some dumb decisions, but you are saying they are COMPLETELY devoid of common sense.