How important is home field advantage to the Toronto Blue Jays chances of making the World Series?
When the Toronto Blue Jays gave up a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, they didn’t just lose the game. They also lost control of their own destiny to clinch home field advantage throughout the postseason.
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As things stand, they need to win their final game of the regular season, while hoping the Kansas City Royals lose to Minnesota Twins. It’s amazing to think that after 162 games, it all comes down to the final day.
If things don’t pan out as hoped, the Blue Jays will only have themselves to blame. Since clinching the AL East, they have taken their foot off the pedal, winning just one of their last four games.
With the current scenario in mind, this raises the question of how important home field advantage is to the Blue Jays? Does it really matter that much in respect of their chances of making it to the World Series?
In theory, the answer should be yes. However, the reality tells a different story.
As reported by Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal, home field advantage for the MLB post season isn’t as important as you’d think. In fact, it’s pretty much a 50-50 proposition.
Since the introduction of wild card teams in 1995, the team with home field advantage has gone 39-41 in the divisional round and 19-21 in the Championship series. Interestingly, the team with home field advantage for the World Series has a record of 15-5.
Sep 27, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays players salute fans in the third inning of their final regular season home game against Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that home field wouldn’t provide a massive boost for the Blue Jays. They went 53-28 at the Rogers Centre this season, so they clearly play better at home, compared to on the road.
On top of this, Toronto sports fans are among the most rabid fan bases around when the stakes are high – look no further than the Raptors first round playoff series from two seasons ago as an example. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two veterans with extensive playoff experience, said the atmosphere at the Air Canada Center was one of the best – and toughest – they had ever encountered.
In truth, if the Blue Jays are to go all the way, the worst-case scenario has them only playing the Championship round without home field. This is due to the ridiculous ongoing practice of giving home field advantage in the World Series to the winners of the All-Star game.
In respect of the Championship series, even here, home field is only an issue if the Royals win their divisional round. With this in mind, it’s worth considering the Blue Jays head-to-head record this season, against a team a lot of people want to see them face in the post season.
Toronto has the overall advantage, going 4-3 in their seven games (hence why they have the tie-breaker for home field advantage in the AL). However, this includes a record of 1-2 in Kansas City.
Overall, how much does any of this really matter? You can break down every possible angle, but it’s all about how the players respond once the postseason begins.
In this respect, the Royals have an advantage, just because of their experience last season, when they went all the way to the World Series. However, even this can be countered by the fact not much was expected from them, after qualifying as a wild card team.
The point is, it’s up to the Blue Jays to grasp the opportunity of a rare postseason appearance. Anything can happen, and they have just as much chance as anyone else of winning the World Series.
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