One of the long-standing adages in sports has to do with home field advantage. While that certainly has credence to it, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been winning baseball games at different places.
Baseball can be an odd sport. The best team doesn’t always win. In fact, the best team loses approximately 62 games per season. In terms of record alone, the Dodgers were the “best” team in 2018, winners of 104 of 162 games, which works out to a .642 winning percentage. Compare that to the NBA this past season, where the team with the best record, the Houston Rockets, went 65-17, a .793 winning percentage.
It’s often a lot harder to tell who the best team is in baseball versus other sports. Arguments can usually be made for four, maybe even five or six teams as to who puts the best product on the diamond. That isn’t so in other sports. Also unlike other sports, home field doesn’t matter as much in baseball.
We’ve seen it before. Teams have staggeringly better records on the road versus at home. Of course, even though baseball is different, this is still the exception and not the rule, although it is more prevalent in baseball. Last season, three out of six division winners had better road records than home records. Cleveland, Houston, and Washington were all three-plus games better away from their home turf.
In 2018, the Dodgers are 42-35. They are 21-19 at home and 21-16 on the road. Those are fairly similar numbers, with the edge going to the road record by winning percentage, perhaps only because they’ve played fewer road games.
The point of this isn’t to focus on the season as a whole, but rather the period of time in which the Dodgers have seen success this season. For that purpose, we’re going to go back to May 15, a little over a month ago.
On May 15 and 16, the Dodgers were in Miami, and they lost both of those games. But this was right before the tide shifted and Los Angeles looked competitive again. Since May 15, the Dodgers have gone 13-6 at home, a very respectable record, and right where a team wants to be at home. On the road, they’ve gone 13-5, which is nearly identical to their home record.
Those two records might indicate that the team plays equally as well at home as on the road, but the team statistics flesh out a different story. The Dodgers have played abundantly better offensively away from Dodger Stadium. Throughout the course of the entire season, up to June 25, the Dodgers overall run differential is +61.0. I wrote all about the exploding run differential here. Over that same stretch, the Dodgers’ run differential at home is +17.0, but it’s +44.0 on the road, a full 27 runs better.
More from LA Dodgers News
- Giants laughably sign pitcher that Dodgers absolutely own
- Dave Roberts’ quote about Padres in NLDS should motivate Dodgers
- Former Astro seemingly takes uncalled for shot at Cody Bellinger after Cubs deal
- Dodgers’ 2023 lineup without Trea Turner isn’t as impressive as it should be
- Recapping who Dodgers gained and lost in Rule 5 Draft
Since May 15, the Dodgers have had 663 plate appearances at home, and have scored 80 runs during that time. 729 plate appearances on the road have yielded 111 runs scored. Yes, they have more plate appearances on the road, but it’s been in one less game, meaning they’re getting on base at a much higher clip.
How much higher? On the road, the Dodgers are getting on base at a league-leading .363 wOBA, versus .315 at home, which is 16th in baseball. By virtually all metrics, the Dodgers have been performing significantly better on the road.
Why might that be? It’s hard to say. They haven’t been to disproportionately more “hitters” parks than “pitchers” parks. It’s pretty even. Here’s a list of parks they’ve played in, along with ESPN’s Park Factors and ranking: Marlins Park, Miami (0.834, 26th), Nationals Park, Washington (0.993, 16th), Coors Field, Colorado (1.397, 1st), PNC Park, Pittsburgh (0.926, 22nd), Wrigley Field, Chicago (1.021, 11th), and Citi Field, New York (0.757, 29th).
If you’re wondering, Dodger Stadium does rank well down the list, coming in at 28th at 0.767 runs. With that said, the only stadium with home runs than Dodger Stadium that I mentioned is Nationals Park. But Los Angeles has more home runs (38) at the other stadiums than they do at home (30), although it is closer than some of the other metrics we’ve reviewed.
So not only have the parks been pitchers’ parks, they’ve been mostly pitchers’ parks. Despite that, the Dodgers have been slugging .515 in those stadiums, which is first in baseball, while only slugging .432 at home.
The Dodgers are at home for the next few series, but they head out on what essentially works out to be a month-long road trip in July, with 17 of their 26 games being on the road. If this road versus home splits continue to work out the way they have been over the last month, then expect this Dodgers’ team to have an exciting month of July. If that stands to be the case, then it would likely propel them into leapfrogging the Arizona Diamondbacks and commanding first place in the National League West for the first time in 2018.