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Washington Nationals: Are win/loss records impacted by early season road games?

June 3, 2010

There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding the Nats 2010 schedule. Specifically, comments have been made regarding the difficulty of the Nats schedule, the 20 games in 20 days streak, and the fact that the Nats have 31 road games in their first 55 games. The Nats are currently completing a 10 game road trip that included 6 games on the west coast and 4 in Houston. The blogosphere is eager to see that Nats come home to help get back above .500. So here’s the question – is there a correlation between a team’s early season home/away ratio and a team’s win/loss record? Will the Nats return to Nats Park help the winning percentage?

Through June 2nd, 13 teams have played more road games than home games, 13 have had played home games than road games, and 4 have had an even split. For the most part, the imbalance is what you would expect – warm weather and domed stadium teams have played more home games, and cold weather teams have played more road games. There are a few notable exceptions, which defy any logical explanation.

Home Weighted Schedules

The two teams with the most home games through June 2nd are the Florida Marlins (makes sense) and the BOSTON RED SOX (?). Why do the Red Sox get a front loaded schedule to start the season? They have 8 more home games than road games. I’m sure there are many conspiracy theories to explain this scheduling quirk, but there isn’t a meteorological one. I never really considered Boston a warm weather city. ESPN must like to show Fenway in April. You will also see balmy Cincinnati with 6 extra home games. I don’t remember ESPN in Cincy for a ball-game though.

Here are the teams with more home games than away. This list is ordered by home/away percentage.  At this point in the season, the Giants have played the highest percentage of games at home.

  1. San Francisco – Warm
  2. Boston – ????
  3. Florida – Warm
  4. Houston – Warm/Roof
  5. San Diego – Warm
  6. Cincinnati – ????
  7. Seattle – Warm/Roof
  8. Los Angeles Angels – Warm
  9. Texas Rangers – Warm
  10. New York Mets – The mets will be at an even 28-28 after June 3rd
  11. Minnesota Twins – New Stadium
  12. Chicago Cubs – 1 Game Extra in Wrigley
  13. Toronto Blue Jays – Roof

Balanced Schedules

Here are the teams that have played an equal number of home and away games:

  1. Detroit
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Tampa Bay
  4. Oakland

It seems that, if you were scheduling by weather, you would want Tampa Bay (Dome) and Oakland (Warm) to get a few more home games early in the year. I guess it was more logical in the minds of MLB to spend 8 extra games in Fenway than to shiver in the air conditioning at Tropicana Field.

Road Weighted Schedules

These teams have been early road warriors. The Orioles have played on the road 10 more times than they’ve played at home. That is an exhausting start to the season. This list is ranked by percentage, with the lowest home percentage at the top.

  1. Baltimore
  2. Arizona – ????
  3. Cleveland
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Washington
  6. Milwaukee – ????
  7. Colorado
  8. New York Yankees
  9. Atlanta – ????
  10. Pittsburgh
  11. Kansas City
  12. St. Louis
  13. Los Angeles Dodgers

Again, most of these cities on the list are cold North/Northeast/Mid-West cities. I have trouble understanding the Diamondback’s schedule. They are a warm climate team with a retractable roof stadium. I know with an unbalanced schedule that it’s hard to build a reasonable schedule, but you would think the geniuses in the league offices could figure out a way to play a few more April games in Phoenix.

What Does it Mean?

Back to the original question – is there any correlation between the home/away schedule and the win/loss record of each team? Here’s a graph showing the correlation between home game percentages and winning percentages.

In this graph, the dashed line represents the perfect correlation between home games and wins. If each team won an equal number of games as home games played, each team would fall on this line. The light blue line is the linear weighted trend-line for the graph. As you can see, there is very little correlation between the winning percentages of teams and the percentage of games played at home. The Yankees, Brave, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Phillies all have above .500 records while playing more road games than home games. In fact, the Phillies have played a higher percentage of road games than the Nats through June 2nd. The Astros and Managers have managed to play significantly below .500 while playing several extra home games.

This is bad news for Nats fans hoping the Nats will hit a mid-season win streak with a couple of extended home stands. Hopefully the Nats will turn it around with better pitching (Stephen Strasburg, Scott Olsen) and the healthy return of Pudge Rodriguez.  While we are at it, a right fielder with a bat would be a big help. Unfortunately, home games alone won’t move the Nats back above .500.

One Comment leave one →
  1. RobBob permalink
    June 7, 2010 12:43 PM

    Interesting. You didn’t indicate the correlation coefficient, but I’m pretty sure it’s small. The thing that intrigues me is that those teams who are “above the line” are generally doing very well so far… and the Nats are, in fact, above the line. I’m sure the recent series haven’t helped, but there’s a bit of comfort to be taken here nonetheless.

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