I did not make this headline up
Thought I would open a thread as the Tigers finish the season with a three-game series in Miami tonight.
- The Tigers are within one game of the A's for home-field advantage in the ALDS
- Martinez will probably be catching
- Will Cabrera start?
Apparently the Big Ten Network's website is running a poll to determine which Big Ten team has the "best home-field advantage". Popularity contests do not good data sets make, so I figured I'd apply a lot of counting and a little math and see what I came up with.
- For each Big Ten team, I tallied up their total wins over the last 11* years, and seperately tallied how many of those wins came at home.
- I ignored nonconference games. Those will naturally boost home winning percentages as you invite the baby seals to get clubbed at your house, and play home-and-homes against teams that might actually beat you.
- I wanted to compare how well a team did at home compared to how well it did on average, rather than just totalling home wins and saying "golly, Ohio State must have the best home field advantage because they won at home a lot". Well, unfortunately, they won on the road a lot too, so it doesn't tell you much.
- Of course, the inverse of saying a team has a "Strong home field advantage" would be to say that same team "Sucks on the road". I'm looking at you, Indiana.
*I had planned to look at the last 10 years, but made my spreadsheet a big too large and went on my merry way entering in data. I was all done by the time I realised my mistake and I saw no reason to discard the 1999 season just because it was one more than I had planned to look at.
First, and just for the record, here's your overall Big Ten winning percentages for the last 11 years:
|Rank||TEAM||WINNING %||Home Wins||Home Wins Rank|
Yeah, I know. I don't like it any more than you. Anyhow, as you can see, there's not a lot of difference between a team's overall rank and its rank in terms of raw number of home wins. A bad team is a bad team at home or on the road, and ditto for a good team.
Surely there must be something to the fearsome reputations to such locations as Beaver Stadium and the Horseshoe though, right?
At first, I tried expressing home field advantage as the percentage increase of home winning percentage over total winning percentage. However, I found that this simply weighted the home success of bad teams much higher. Instead, I totaled the number of wins each team had at home, subtracted the number of wins each team had on the road, and averaged over 11 years to yield a number I'm calling the Expected Increase in Wins at Home (EIWH). In other words, every year each team plays 4 Big Ten home games and 4 Big Ten road games. How many more wins, on average, does a given team expect to claim at home than it will on the road? The results are as follows:
The results have some suprises. Iowa, a slightly-above-average team overall, earns an average of one more win at home than it does on the road, as does celler-dwelling Indiana. Indiana has only won five Big Ten road games in the past 11 years. Iowa has a reputation as a tough place to play, especially at night, but the Indiana results are inexplicable.
On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois has only earned 16 of its 30 victories at home, which makes for an interesting contrast with Indiana in spite of the two school's proximity at the bottom of the overall standings. Strangest of all, the feared Horseshoe in Columbus grants a very modest advantage to the hated Buckeyes. They have less of a home field advantage than such teams as Northwestern (a school which, from my personal experience, barely fills half its stadium with home fans) and Minnesota (who played in the sterile Metrodome for all of the period of this study).
What's the message here? It seems that the level of hype attached to particular stadiums has little relation to the advantage those stadiums grant to the team playing there.