When people discuss the concept of home field advantage, it’s normally about football and basketball. There’s no way to measure it, but everyone knows how hard it is for opponents to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field or the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In Major League Baseball, home field advantage doesn’t seem to carry as much importance. While every elite team desires to have the luxury to play the deciding games in the Postseason in front of their home fans, you rarely hear experts point out which ballparks are the hardest to play in for opposing teams. Still, home field advantage certainly plays a role, especially for some teams more than others. Therefore, let’s dive into which ballparks provide the best home field advantage heading into the Division Series. These rankings are based primarily from average attendance, 2019 home record, and national reputation of the fan bases. This list is definitely subjective and impossible to quantify to a tee.
1. Yankee Stadium
While it might not have the aura of the old Yankee Stadium, the current home of the Yankees is still an unwelcoming place for visiting teams. Astros outfielder George Springer knows this all too well saying, “It’s an active right field — the most active right field in the big leagues, I’ll put it that way” when discussing the Yankee fans. The Bronx Bombers have enjoyed significant success in front of their fans in 2019, as their sluggers have taken full advantage of the short porches down the lines. More so than any other team, it feels like the Yankees could benefit from home field advantage in October to win their record 28th World Series.
2. Dodger Stadium
Despite the fact that the Dodgers have seen the last two World Series champions celebrate on their home field, this year’s team has had some magical moments late in Chavez Ravine. Even Kike Hernandez acknowledged, “We like to walk-off” after L.A.’s 12th walk-off victory on August 22nd. People sometimes forget about the mental side of the game when analyzing baseball, and the Dodgers seem to have an extreme edge for coming from behind late in games. To top it off, they were 59-22 at home this year playing in front of the largest average attendance in the MLB of over 49,000.
3. Busch Stadium
While the Cardinals have definitely played well at Busch this season, this ranking stems primarily from the Redbirds’ history of defending their home turf in October. Often regarded as the “best fans in baseball,” St. Louis is a very difficult place to steal W’s. Just thinking back to the 2011 World Series where the Cardinals seemed left for dead, before rallying to win the series reminds you of that quickly. Despite not playing in a big market city like New York or Los Angeles, the Cardinals averaged the second most fans in attendance this season. Plus, the Cards played well at home down the stretch to win the NL Central and finished with a 50-31 record at Busch in 2019.
4. Minute Maid Park
The ‘Stros had the best home record in baseball this year, being the only team to reach 60 wins in front of their home fans. Their amazing 1-2-3 punch in the rotation could get just about anybody out, no matter where they’re playing, but the fierce lineup also takes advantage of the “Crawford Boxes” in left field where flyouts and line drives turn into homers. In addition, they say that everything is bigger in Texas, and being a domed (retractable roof) park, the noise inside Minute Maid definitely plays a huge role in the Astros home field advantage in October.
5. SunTrust Park
The Braves had a long history of disappointing October showings at Turner Field, winning only one title in a long stretch of winning division titles in the ‘90s into the 2000s. However, the Braves have moved into the new SunTrust Park, and have experienced a lot of success there so far. Average attendance has increased each year since the new stadium was built in 2017, and reached 32,776 this year (7th in NL). Winning 50 games at home this year, the Braves have proved they love to play in front of their home fans.
6. Nationals Park
The Nationals got off to a slow start at their home park this year, but from the start of the second half through the final weekend of the regular season, Nationals Park has been very kind to the Nats. Up until Tuesday night, Washington had lost all 3 of their winner-take-all games at home. But rallying in the wild card game at home proved that Washington can finally win a big game on their home turf. Let’s see if they can get past their past NLDS struggles in DC.
7. Target Field
You could argue that the Twins forte is better suited for playing away from Target Field. Of their franchise record 307 homers, 170 came on the road. In order for the Twins to get past the gauntlet of the Yankees and/or the Astros in the American League, they’re going to need the balls to be flying out of the park, and the spacious Target Field is definitely not an ideal place to hit a bunch of bombs. In fact, the Twins won 9 more games on the road than they did at home in the regular season.
8. Tropicana Field
When it comes to passionate fan bases, the Rays certainly don’t come to mind. Despite winning 96 games, Tropicana Field ranked dead last in the American League in average attendance. Speculation on the Rays future in Tampa/St. Petersburg has come into question, but for now it seems like the Rays don’t mind playing on the road. They posted the same record away from the Trop as they did at home. The Rays fans didn’t show up during the regular season, but here’s to hoping they will make their presence known in October.
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