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Home Field Advantage in Sudden Death WS Games

Posted by Raphy on November 4, 2010

In 1979  the Pittsburgh Pirates  defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.  It wasn't easy. Not only did the Pirates have the Herculean task of   coming back from a three games to one disadvantage, they had to do so  with the last  two games on the road. The Pirates persevered,  and in the 30 years since,  no road team has won game 7 of the World Series. There have been 8 World Series game 7s since the Pirates victory, but each time it has been the home team that walked away with the hardware.

The entirety of my baseball fandom spans those thirty years and that fact combined with a constant media barrage about the difficulty of winning game 7 on the road has led me to accept that game 7 at home is a significant advantage. However, it wasn't always so. In fact, after the Pirates successful comeback vs. the Orioles, road teams held a  17-10 advantage in sudden death World-Series games. It wasn't until 2002, the last World Series game 7, that the home teams retook the overall historical edge.

Here are the results of all the sudden death World Series Games.  The home teams are in red:

Rk Date Series Gm# Winner Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI LOB #
1 2002-10-27 WS 7 ANA SFG W 4-1 34 27 4 5 3 0 0 4 5 1 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.161 -0.349 .705 6 10
2 2001-11-04 WS 7 ARI NYY W 3-2 39 37 3 11 2 0 0 3 1 0 13 1 0 0 3 0 0 1 0.338 -1.464 1.840 11 14
3 1997-10-26 WS 7 FLA CLE W 3-2 47 40 3 8 1 0 1 3 6 1 11 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0.080 -2.602 2.186 12 20
4 1991-10-27 WS 7 MIN ATL W 1-0 41 34 1 10 2 0 0 1 5 4 5 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 -0.344 -3.637 2.009 12 15
5 1987-10-25 WS 7 MIN STL W 4-2 38 32 4 10 2 0 0 4 5 0 6 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0.040 -0.537 1.347 10 11
6 1986-10-27 WS 7 NYM BOS W 8-5 39 32 8 10 0 0 2 8 4 2 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.577 4.366 .857 7 15
7 1985-10-27 WS 7 KCR STL W 11-0 42 36 11 14 1 0 1 10 6 1 4 0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0.298 6.910 .396 7 10
8 1982-10-20 WS 7 STL MIL W 6-3 43 39 6 15 2 0 0 6 4 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.404 2.339 1.316 13 13
9 1979-10-17 WS 7 PIT BAL W 4-1 41 36 4 10 3 0 1 4 2 2 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 -0.008 -0.581 1.039 10 13
10 1975-10-22 WS 7 CIN BOS W 4-3 40 33 4 9 0 0 1 4 6 0 2 0 1 0 1 2 2 0 0.150 -0.743 1.727 9 15
11 1973-10-21 WS 7 OAK NYM W 5-2 35 33 5 9 1 0 2 5 2 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.238 1.369 .380 6 13
12 1972-10-22 WS 7 OAK CIN W 3-2 38 32 3 6 2 0 0 3 4 2 9 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0.115 -0.657 .891 8 14
13 1971-10-17 WS 7 PIT BAL W 2-1 33 33 2 6 1 0 1 2 0 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0.129 -1.848 .719 4 9
14 1968-10-10 WS 7 DET STL W 4-1 36 35 4 8 1 1 0 4 1 1 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.100 0.610 .727 5 11
15 1967-10-12 WS 7 STL BOS W 7-2 41 36 7 10 2 1 2 6 4 0 5 0 0 1 1 0 3 1 0.283 2.982 .488 7 9
16 1965-10-14 WS 7 LAD MIN W 2-0 38 32 2 7 2 1 1 2 4 1 6 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 -0.082 -2.147 .885 9 10
17 1964-10-15 WS 7 STL NYY W 7-5 37 33 7 10 2 0 2 5 2 0 6 0 1 1 1 0 2 0 0.222 3.090 .595 6 9
18 1962-10-16 WS 7 NYY SFG W 1-0 36 32 1 7 0 0 0 0 4 0 4 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 -0.321 -3.469 1.070 8 9
19 1960-10-13 WS 7 PIT NYY W 10-9 35 31 10 11 0 0 3 10 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 1.251 5.188 1.372 1 15
20 1958-10-09 WS 7 NYY MLN W 6-2 40 34 6 8 2 0 1 6 3 1 5 0 2 1 2 0 1 0 0.322 1.934 1.116 7 11
21 1957-10-10 WS 7 MLN NYY W 5-0 40 34 5 9 1 0 1 5 3 0 4 0 3 0 3 1 0 1 0.214 0.832 .583 8 10
22 1956-10-10 WS 7 NYY BRO W 9-0 42 37 9 10 2 0 4 9 4 2 8 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0.269 4.318 .365 6 9
23 1955-10-04 WS 7 BRO NYY W 2-0 37 29 2 5 1 0 0 2 5 1 4 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 -0.123 -2.439 .887 8 11
24 1952-10-07 WS 7 NYY BRO W 4-2 39 36 4 10 1 0 2 4 2 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0.201 -0.207 .944 8 15
25 1947-10-06 WS 7 NYY BRO W 5-2 38 30 5 7 1 1 0 5 7 0 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.260 1.359 1.158 9 13
26 1946-10-15 WS 7 STL BOS W 4-3 36 31 4 9 4 0 0 4 4 2 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.340 0.341 1.087 8 11
27 1945-10-10 WS 7 DET CHC W 9-3 44 35 9 9 3 0 0 9 8 1 5 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.375 4.631 .521 8 11
28 1940-10-08 WS 7 CIN DET W 2-1 31 29 2 7 3 0 0 2 1 1 6 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 -0.022 -1.939 1.216 5 11
29 1934-10-09 WS 7 STL DET W 11-0 47 43 11 17 5 2 0 10 4 0 4 0 0 0 1 1 2 1 0.341 5.867 .457 9 10
30 1931-10-10 WS 7 STL PHA W 4-2 31 27 4 5 0 0 1 2 3 0 9 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.176 -0.144 .532 3 10
31 1926-10-10 WS 7 STL NYY W 3-2 37 34 3 8 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 0 2 1 3 0 0 1 -0.081 -1.702 1.100 7 10
32 1925-10-15 WS 7 PIT WSH W 9-7 40 38 9 15 8 1 0 9 1 0 3 0 1 0 2 1 1 0 0.805 4.155 1.613 7 16
33 1924-10-10 WS 7 WSH NYG W 4-3 46 44 4 10 4 0 1 4 2 1 7 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 -0.059 -2.542 1.921 8 16
34 1912-10-16 WS 8 BOS NYG W 3-2 41 35 3 8 3 0 0 3 5 1 4 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0.287 -1.585 2.202 9 12
35 1909-10-16 WS 7 PIT DET W 8-0 46 30 8 7 3 1 0 6 10 0 1 1 4 1 2 0 4 1 0.291 4.420 .753 11 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/4/2010.

Of course, this is all a very small sample and is more of a curiosity more than anything else. In other playoff rounds road teams have had plenty of success, even recently. In the LDS, road teams have won 9 of 17 sudden death games. In the LCS,  the road team has won 9 of 24 sudden death games.

It is interesting to note  that since the LCS was switched to a 7 game format, road teams have only won 5 of 14 games. This means that since 1980, the road team has won a sudden death game 7 postseason game only 23% (5 out of 22)  of the time; while in sudden death game fives they have won 48% (13 out of 27).

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 5:40 am and is filed under Game Finders, Postseason, World Series. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Home Field Advantage in Sudden Death WS Games”

  1. Being too lazy to actually look them up, I am thinking that since 1982 (the last 7 series that ended in 7 games), that more times than not the home team won games 6 AND 7 at home. I know that I SHOULD know all of them off the top of my head, but the memory is playing tricks.

  2. Thanks for the great list! Wow. Confoundingly streaky: Home team goes 7-3. Visitor goes 13-3, home goes 8-0. Weird.

    The probability of a series going to 7 games is 5/16, or around 31% (assuming both teams have a 50/50 shot at winning each game). With this in mind:

    Most consecutive years with a game 7: 4 (1955-58)
    Most exciting time: from 1955-1975 13 of 21 WS go to 7 games.
    Longest time with half WS going to 7: 47 years (1945-1991, 24 of 47).
    Most years without a game 7: 8 (2003-2010, 1913-23 [includes 3 best-of-9 series])
    Least exciting time: 1988-2010: Only 4 of the past 22 WS have gone 7.

    Weird, how things even out here, too. The recent dry spell puts the total at 35/102 (not including 4 best-of-9 series), or 34%. In 1987, that stood at 31/80, or nearly 39%.

  3. To finish my post from @1:

    I looked up all of the series, and just the Indians-Marlins series in 1997 was there a split in games 6 and 7. In the other six series, the home team won both games 6 AND 7.

    And if you go back and include the 79 Pirates, the winning team of the WS won the last two games of the series seven times out of the last eight.

    I guess the message is that if you are up 3 games to 2 in the WS - you have to finish it off in game 6.

  4. One last point about this list...

    I guess it is just the nature of the World Series, but to me, it is amazing just how many of the recent 7-game series include a truly amazing game 6 or 7.

    2006 - ANA comeback in game 6, 2001 - ARIZ comeback against Rivera in game 7, 1997 - Reneria in game 7, 1991 - Jack Morris in game 7, 1986 - Schiraldi/Buckner in game 6, 1985 - bad call on Orta/Iorg hit in game 6, 1975 - Fisk in game 6/Reds in game 7

    just to go back 35 years.

  5. In 1985, everybody made a big deal about how the Royals came back from being down 3-1 to win in 7 games...twice.

    In fact, looking at the complete history, I find only two teams have had a 3-1 lead and won the series 4-3...The Red Sox in 1912 and the Cardinals in 1967, against the Red Sox (curse, anyone?).

  6. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Something to think about...
    As much importance that is attributed to having fans "motivate" the home team psychologically, I'd imagine that when the home team is losing or the visitors rallying, having the crowd go silent must balance that 'home-field advantage'.
    Watching your fans head for the exit or hold their heads in grief must take some of the pep out of a team.

  7. Anybody know how they determined home field way back when? From 1946 to the 1994 lack of playoffs it is clear that the NL got even years and the AL odd. But the Cubs had HFA in 1945. And I can't see any pattern before that.

  8. Kds, the 2-3-2 structure only came into being around 1924 - before that, it was worked out afresh each year. 1945 was an anomaly, due to war-imposed travel restrictions, they went to a 3-4 format.

  9. Gerry is right, the '24 series was the first 2-3-2. The '43 and '45 series were 3-4 instead due to the war.

  10. @Dahook:

    The KCR championship was due to Denkinger, remember?

    According to the people who own this blog, Denkinger and Jim Joyce belong to the Hall of the Fame.