There is an old axiom in sports that you play for the tie at home, while on the road you play for the win. I was curious if this strategy was actually implemented in baseball, so I decided to use the "Batting Event Finder" to select one opportunity to play for a tie and compare the results at home and on the road. Teams which trail by one run with no outs in the ninth and a runner on first will only sacrifice the runner over if they are "playing for the tie." Here are the percentages of such plate appearances which result in sacrifice bunts at home and on the road. (Keeping in mind that the years prior to 1973 may not be 100% complete.)
|Years||Home PA||Home SH||Home %||Road PA||Road SH||Road %|
The key here is to compare the percentage of plate appearances at home that are sac-bunts vs. those on the road. A quick look at the table shows that there is a tremendous difference.
Here is the same information in chart form. As you can see the difference is quite striking. ( The years recorded are the statistics for the previous five years. So when 2010 is marked in the chart, it really is 2006-2010.)
Since 1950 a home team is more than 2.7 times as likely as a road team to bunt a runner over from first when trailing by 1 with no outs in the ninth. While the degree has varied over time, and individual single season anomalies exist (if you're curious, check out 2008), this has essentially been true in baseball for the last 60 years. Judging from this one scenario, it would be logical to conclude that the axiom is true. Home teams play for the tie; road teams play for the win.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 at 8:18 pm and is filed under Event Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.