Since the 7-7 tie at the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, the winner of the Summer Classic has been awarded home field advantage for the World Series. So the fans decide the players of the teams that play for the advantage in the biggest series of the year. But how big of an advantage is it?
Let’s take a look at how the home and visiting teams have done over the course of time.
The current format of 2-3-2 started in 1924, with the exception of three years. In 1943 and 1944, the World Series used a 3-4 format due to World War II travel restrictions. And in 1994, there was no World Series due to the strike. Over those 85 World Series the team with the home field advantage have won 50 times. That is just 58.8% of the time. That may not seem like a huge advantage, and mathematically this might be a small sample size, but if I’m in the series I’ll take any advantage I can get.
However, if we look at more recent trends, the team with home field advantage has won 24 times since 1981. That is 31 World Series and a rate of 77.4%. Perhaps when MLB decided to give the winner the home field, they were looking at recent trends.
You might be thinking, well it only matters if they go to a Game 7. While I would disagree that it is more than that, let’s take a look at how teams have done in Game 7’s.
Since 1924 the World Series has gone to a Game 7 a total of 24 times. The team with the home field advantage has a record of 18-16. There was a huge shift in this trend since 1980. Prior to that year, the home team went 9-16 in Game 7’s. Since, they have gone 9-0.
While trends will change from time to time, the current trend leans heavily on the home team.
But what has happened since the change after the 2002 All-Star Game? The home team has gone 7-3 and won the only Game 7 that has been played since then.
So does having home field really give a team the advantage? I’ll leave that for you to decide. It may not be as big as people think, but I do think there is something to it in the end. There are so many outside factors that go into each series that will determine the winner. The home field is just one of those many factors.
Should the fans vote in the All-Star players to determine who gets home field advantage? That’s another story for another day that we will look at soon, but I’d love to hear what you think.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.