As the Milwaukee Brewers leapfrog back and forth at the top of the N.L. Central division, fans at Miller Park have one big question… and no, it’s not will Prince Fielder re-sign with the club (although that’s probably number two on the list). The big question is: When will this year’s team start winning with some regularity on the road?
Will the Brewers paltry record in away games hurt their chances for their first N.L. Central division title since they moved to the N.L. in 1998 and first in the franchise’s history since 1982? How about a little statistical history to help answer that question.
First, since 1995 (the last 16 seasons) no team with 20 or more wins at home than on the road has won a division title; the Brewers are already at plus-13 with 29 wins at home and only 16 on the road (as of Sunday, July 3). In fact, only nine teams out of a possible 96 division winners (1995-2010) have won a title with 14 or more wins at home than on the road. Here’s a look at those nine:
Team, season Home wins Road wins Diff.
Chicago White Sox, 2008 54 35 19
Oakland, 2003 57 39 18
Tampa Bay, 2008 57 40 17
Atlanta, 1996 56 40 16
Atlanta, 2005 53 37 16
St. Louis, 2006 49 34 15
Los Angeles Angels, 2007 54 40 14
San Francisco, 2003 57 43 14
Minnesota, 2002 54 40 14
Some other notes on division winners from 1995-2010 when looking at their season-ending records at home and on the road.
* Of the 96 division winners since 1995, only 17 (17.7%) had a losing record on the road. Over the last six seasons, however, 10 of the last 36 divisions winners (27.8%) had a losing record in away games.
* The average division winner since 1995 has won about 5.5 more games at home than on the road.
While it doesn’t look good for the Brewers winning a division title if they continue (and increase) their +13 pace, getting a Wild Card berth has been a little more forgiving when it comes to performance (or lack thereof) on the road. For example:
* Of the 32 Wild Card teams since 1995, 13 (40%) had losing records on the road.
* The average Wild Card team won an average of 11.5 more games at home than on the road.
* The Atlanta Braves last season had a plus-21 with 56 wins at home and 35 wins on the road when they won the N.L. Wild Card. That was the highest disparity between home and road wins of a Wild Card representative since 1995.
(Note: For the sake of this post, I only went back to 1995 because MLB went to a three-division system for each league in 1994 (although there was no playoffs in 1994 due to the work stoppage in August that cancelled the remainder of the ’94 season)
Thanks to Dr. Bob for the suggestion for this post.