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Has the MLB All-Star Game Affected World Series Outcomes?


The 2014 All-Star Game became marked the 12th occasion in which the winner determined which league would have home-field advantage during the World Series. This means that even as players like Mike Trout and Derek Jeter were key to the League winning the game, their biggest contributions may be to a handful of the All-Star peers, as having an extra game at home may be the difference between having a World Series ring or just a pennant to show for 2014.

This system was infamously adopted after the 2002 mid-summer classic ended in a tie after both leagues ran out of pitchers. The embarrassment of the draw led Commissioner Bud Selig to overreact and change the rules so that each All-Star game winner would serve as the deciding factor for World Series home-field advantage. The previous system, which simply alternated the host of game 1 from year to year, may have been arbitrary, but at least it seemed fair and the best solution for logistics, as the idea of adopting home-field for the team with the best record also was impractical considering how different each league is from the other.

Even as many continue to criticize and mock the current system, baseball has given no indication of trying to modify it in the near future. It may have started as an experiment, but the system is now ingrained into the appeal of each All-Star Game, which has evolved from an exhibition into a serious matter.

However, has this maligned system really affected the eventual winners during the World Series? For example, in 2011 the ASG was turned by a Prince Fielder 3-run homer, giving the NL a win and thus home-field advantage for the St. Louis Cardinals, who used it to win games 6 and 7 at home.

Taking this into consideration, we take a look at every World Series since 1984 results to check if the usual pattern of World Series champions has changed or if it has remained constant despite the ASG wrinkle that was added in 2003.

In the following table, we have the league who had home-field (bolded if home-field league won World Series), how many home games said league's representative hosted and won, along with the eventual champion for each year.

Year

Home-Field

Home Games

Home Wins

Champion

1984

NL

2

1

Tigers

1985

AL

4

2

Royals

1986

NL

4

2

Mets

1987

AL

4

4

Twins

1988

NL

2

2

Dodgers

1989

AL

2

2

Athletics

1990

NL

2

2

Reds

1991

AL

4

4

Twins

1992

NL

3

1

Blue Jays

1993

AL

3

2

Blue Jays

1994

CANCELLED WORLD SERIES

1995

NL

3

3

Braves

1996

AL

3

1

Yankees

1997

NL

4

2

Marlins

1998

AL

2

2

Yankees

1999

NL

2

0

Yankees

2000

AL

2

2

Yankees

2001

NL

4

4

Diamondbacks

2002

AL

4

3

Angels

2003

AL

3

1

Marlins

2004

AL

2

2

Red Sox

2005

AL

2

2

White Sox

2006

AL

2

1

Cardinals

2007

AL

2

2

Red Sox

2008

AL

2

1

Phillies

2009

AL

3

2

Yankees

2010

NL

2

2

Giants

2011

NL

4

3

Cardinals

2012

NL

2

2

Giants

2013

AL

3

2

Red Sox

2014

AL

?

?

?


As it can be seen from the table, having home-field advantage has been a big deal for the eventual winners, with only 6 teams since 1983 being able to win the World Series despite missing out on hosting game 1. With 23 of the last 29 winners enjoying from this benefit (79.31%), it can be safely assumed that whoever wins the AL pennant this year will be thanking all who did their part in giving the AL a win in the Mid-Summer Classic.

After all, teams with World Series home-field have won 51 of their 89 games at home since 1983 (57.3%), including the last 8 instances where the series went to a deciding game 7.

Since 2003, the trend has been a bit more even, with the AL taking home only 5 trophies despite having 8 All-Star wins. On the other hand, the NL has made the most of its 3 wins with all of them resulting in World Series triumphs. The last NL team to lose a World Series despite having home-field advantage were the 1999 Braves, but at least we can say the system has helped teams from the Old Circuit, as 3 have overcome the disadvantage of opening on the road despite their drought in All-Star games. Before the change in system, the 1981 Dodgers had been the last NL team to win when the AL was awarded automatic home-field.

In the end, contending teams in the AL must have extra motivation knowing that they will enjoy an extra game at home or a potential game 7 if they make the World Series. The A's, Angels, Orioles, Tigers, and even the Royals and a few other squads must battle it out and win the pennant, but if they get there, they must know that their chances look a bit better than they were before the All-Star game.

 



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