Friday, September 9, 2011

On Target: What happened to the Twins at home?

Target Field has not seen as many
Twins victories this season.
This was supposed to have happened last year.

The Twins had a long history of a "Dome field advantage." The Metrodome was one of the few turf fields in the American League; it had a unique roof; it had a unique right field "wall" -- there was no place quite like it, and the Twins habitually won games there on weird plays. Billy Martin wanted to blow it up in the early '80s, Ozzie Guillen cursed about it in the late '00s, and the Twins collected their wins and smiled.

Now: Most teams do better at home than on the road. The home team has last at-bats, so an advantage is built into the rules. The Twins usually had a bigger home field edge than normal because their arena was so odd. The Dome warped the game, and the Twins were more accustomed to those warps and, at times, even constructed to take advantage of them.

So when they moved to Target Field, a lot of people, included the aforementioned Mr. Guillen, expected them to struggle. No more high-hopping grounders. Actual caroms off the right-field wall. Weather to contend with.

And the 2010 Twins merely led the American League in home wins (53, one more than the Yankees). They were a pedestrian 41-40 on the road.

This year: The Twins are last in home wins, with 30. They enter Friday's play 30-42 at home, 29-42 on the road -- as even as they can get. No advantage to being at home for this team.

They've been lousy at the plate both home and road, with essentially the same OPS: .663 home, .662 road. They have a bit more power on the road, slightly higher batting averages and on-base percentages at home -- yet they're scored 4.17 runs per game on the road, 3.51 at home, more than half a run difference.

Part of that is having nine innings at the plate every road game, while some home games only require eight. Let's put it this way: The Twins on the road have scored 0.1098 runs per plate appearance. At home, 0.0972. That's a difference of 0.0126. Is that significant? The Twins average 37 plate appearances a game this year, and if we multiply 0.0126 by 37 we get .4662 -- or a bit less than a half run a game.That's less than the .66 runs differential dividing the runs by games played, but still significant.

How about the other half of the equation, run prevention? The Twins have allowed 355 runs in 72 home games, 4.93 runs per game; 348 runs in 71 road games, or 4.90 runs per game. Much more even -- this despite faring far worse on the road in all three slash stats (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage). But again, the Twins have pitched almost 50 more innings at home.

Back to the plate appearance metric. The Twins at home have allowed 0.1255 runs per PA; on the road, 0.1311 -- a difference of .0056, less than half the difference on offense.

OK. So what? The 2011 Twins have a lousy home record for the same reason they have a lousy road record: They haven't played well in any facet of the game.

But it appears that the sharp decline in their home record is to be blamed more on their lack of runs in Target Field than on the pitching and defense.

1 comment:

  1. I am amazed at how quickly it has collapsed. We are starting to reap the "rewards" of the Bill Smith era, in terms of trades, draft choices, and analysis of relief pitchers. With injuries to the M and M boys and other key players, the Twins have not been able to look to the farm system for help. Add to that, a starting rotation that is mediocre at best, and it is a prescription for long term disaster. Welcome back to the dark ages.

    I hope that Pohlad is able to see what a trainwreck that Smith has led them to, and will pull the trigger on him.