For the teams that have already clinched playoff spots, what’s the most important thing they can do in the last few days of the regular season? Get rested and healthy, sure. Try to line up their pitching rotations if they can, definitely. If they’ve already punched their tickets to the playoffs, then they’ve earned the right to manage their teams with more than the final meaningless regular-season games in mind.
But what about getting home-field advantage? Shouldn’t a team that knows it’s headed to October do everything it can to play as many games at home as possible, in front of its screaming fans, without having to fly, potentially across the country? Getting the best record in the league not only ensures you face the wild-card team, but it gets you home-field advantage throughout the league playoffs. Getting the second-best record at least gets you the advantage over the third-best division winner in the Division Series, plus a chance to play at home in the Championship Series if the wild card pulls a first-round upset.
Objectively, that makes sense, and every team wants it. But is it really worth keeping the pedal to the metal after a playoff spot has been clinched? The numbers say, maybe not that much. Read the rest of this entry »