What is the home field advantage in Major League Baseball?  This isn’t an easy question to answer, but it is an important question to ask when considering betting on baseball.  Because MLB betting doesn’t involve a point spread (there is a runline, but that is a much different story) it’s not as easy for us to establish a baseline for what home field advantage is worth.  Wins, not winning margins are more important when you are betting on the moneyline, so how can we quantify a true home field advantage to increase our winning percentage?

I started with looking at the home and away records for every MLB team over the past five seasons

2014

  • Home Record: 1288-1140 (.530)
  • Away Record: 1140-1288 (.470)

2013

  • Home Record: 1306-1124 (.537)
  • Away Record: 1124-1306 (.463)

2012

  • Home Record: 1295-1135 (.533)
  • Away Record: 1135-1295 (.467)

2011

  • Home Record: 1276-1153 (.525)
  • Away Record: 1153-1276 (.475)

2010

  • Home Record: 1358-1072 (.559)
  • Away Record:  1072-1358 (.441)

I’ve broken these out by year so that you can see that there has not been a lot of variation over the last four years.  However, from 2006-2010, home teams won 55.1% of the time.  Now, the home team is winning around 53% of the time over the past four seasons.  I just don’t believe home-field advantage is what it once was in baseball.

OVERALL (2010-2014)

  • Home Record: 6523-5624 (.537)
  • Away Record: 5624-6523 (.463)

Now we have established that home teams in general win a higher percentage of their games at home than they do on the road, which is no real shocker.  It is pretty common knowledge in sports that the home team usually does have some kind of an advantage.  The key here is that we can actually take these numbers and translate them into betting lines.

For all kinds of betting, oddsmakers try to split the action evenly over both sides of a game to minimize their risk, and moneylines are no exception. Using this logic, we can determine a standardized moneyline for home teams versus away teams based on winning expectations.

For example, to consistently make a profit betting -140 favorites, you would need to win about 58% of your wagers (for those who care this is calculated by dividing your risk amount (1.4) by the sum of your risk amount and win amount (1.4 + 1.0 = 2.4)  1.4/2.4=0.583 or 58%).

What we find from our sample is that our 53.7% home winning percentage translates into a -116 moneyline and our 46.3% road winning percentage translates into a +116 moneyline, which gives us a home field advantage of about 32 “points” in terms of the moneyline.

This tells us that we should consider a 32-point difference in the moneyline between two teams with the advantage going toward the home team.  Of course, you can and should consider other factors, obviously every home team isn’t listed as a -116 favorite. However, I do think you can use it to your advantage when trying to beat the lines this year.

Home-Field Advantage By Team

Team Home Record Home Margin Road Record Road Margin Home Field Advantage
Rockies 481-410 0.39 345-546 -0.76 0.58
Pirates 454-436 -0.15 339-551 -0.92 0.39
Rays 497-393 0.23 394-498 -0.32 0.28
Yankees 561-329 0.95 475-416 0.43 0.26
Red Sox 532-358 0.83 448-442 0.34 0.25
Astros 448-442 -0.26 356-534 -0.73 0.24
Brewers 495-396 0.15 393-497 -0.30 0.23
Athletics 508-382 0.52 422-468 0.09 0.22
Rangers 501-391 0.44 425-466 0.02 0.21
Blue Jays 488-403 0.29 386-503 -0.13 0.21
Cardinals 539-351 0.69 455-436 0.34 0.18
Twins 475-417 0.11 409-483 -0.22 0.17
Cubs 449-442 0.02 397-492 -0.28 0.15
Tigers 507-384 0.42 426-466 0.12 0.15
Indians 480-410 0.16 405-485 -0.10 0.13
Nationals 455-431 -0.19 382-510 -0.44 0.13
Braves 518-373 0.54 437-453 0.33 0.11
Reds 480-411 -0.03 406-485 -0.20 0.09
Diamondbacks 448-443 -0.30 383-508 -0.45 0.08
Padres 470-421 -0.06 404-488 -0.20 0.07
White Sox 480-412 0.05 420-471 -0.08 0.07
Mariners 442-450 -0.39 363-527 -0.52 0.07
Dodgers 503-388 0.36 444-446 0.23 0.07
Orioles 444-447 -0.33 388-503 -0.44 0.06
Phillies 493-397 0.39 466-425 0.29 0.05
Royals 408-481 -0.60 362-530 -0.69 0.05
Marlins 442-448 -0.23 403-486 -0.28 0.03
Giants 484-408 0.00 424-464 -0.01 0.01
Angels 517-374 0.41 480-410 0.43 -0.01
Mets 456-434 0.00 425-466 0.06 -0.03

As you can see, the Colorado Rockies have the best home-field advantage in baseball.  There’s just something to that high altitude in Denver that allows the Rockies to play at their best and their opponents to play at their worst.  Their 0.58 home-field advantage is well ahead of second-place Pittsburgh (0.39).  Only the Los Angeles Angels (-0.01) and New York Mets (-0.03) actually have negative home-field advantages.

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