Giant mistake to underestimate home field advantage

World Series

Baseball
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Published: 24/10/2012

Bookmakers have installed Detroit as the favourite to win this year`s World Series favourite even though San Francisco has home field advantage by virtue of the National League winning the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July.

Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander`s poor performance on the mound for the American League in the Midsummer Classic - he was hit for five runs in the first inning as the National League cruised to an 8-0 victory - could be about to bite his Detroit team on the backside in a very big way.

Since 1980, the side with home field advantage has won 24 of the 31 World Series battles for a strike rate of nearly 78 per cent. Of the seven teams that triumphed without home field advantage, only two of them - Los Angeles in 1981 and Toronto in 1992 - bounced back from losing Game One.

Home field advantage is huge, particularly if a World Series goes the distance. Pittsburgh in 1979 was the last road side to win the seventh game of a World Series. Since then, home teams are 9-0 in Game Seven showdowns. So anyone who says that the result of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game does not matter is kidding oneself. It is very important.

Quite simply, there is a value case for backing the Giants at odds against to win the World Series. San Francisco is trading at around 8-5 to beat the Tigers and, even allowing for the fact that Detroit is fresher heading into the Major League Baseball title decider, the market is too skewed towards the American League champion at this stage.

Head-to-head form between the Giants and the Tigers is very limited because they represent the National League and the American League respectively but they did clash three times in San Francisco last term and the home team won two of the three games, including one by a whopping 15-3 score.

Barry Zito started for the Giants on that July 2011 day, pitching six innings for five hits and no runs. Zito, who has a 16-8 record this year and an earned run average of 4.02, will line up for San Francisco in Game One.

Verlander, who will receive frequent reminders of his Midsummer Classic disaster from the AT&T Park crowd, will start on the mound for Detroit. Verlander has a 20-8 record this season and an earned run of average of 2.47.

Individual baseball matches are tough to call, particularly when the sides are so evenly matched as one would expect of World Series qualifiers. Verlander has better figures than Zito but he underperformed under pressure in the 2006 World Series, going 0-2 versus St Louis with an earned run average of 5.73. The Tigers may win but they are odds on and they make next to no appeal given the statistics listed above.

The World Series value play is a small bet on the Giants to come out on top, whether it takes four, five, six or seven games. The market is out of whack based on recent history.

Also, if one wants an interest in the World Series opener, San Francisco is the value call at odds of around 6-4.


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