Boston Road Warriors Will Thrive in L.A. as Series Switches Coasts

Rainman M.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 12:59 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018 12:59 PM UTC

Games 3, 4, and 5 of the World Series will be played at Dodger Stadium. Should bettors expect the Red Sox to perform differently in Los Angeles than they did in Boston?

World Series Game 3: Boston at Los Angeles DodgersFriday, 8:09 p.m. ET (FOX)

During the regular season, Boston cultivated the reputation for being baseball’s best home team. The team with baseball’s best record also excelled on the road. It generated the second-highest road win percentage and finished second, behind Houston, yielding +24.5 units away from home. Most importantly, Boston has extended this success into the playoffs. Boston is a perfect 5-0 on the road. It beat the Yankees twice and Houston three times in their respective venue. Boston has dealt with the most hostile crowds and the greatest desperation from the home team because both series that Boston has clinched it clinched them on the road.

A common mistake I see from bettors is to look at a team’s home/away splits. Away stats aren’t meaningful in baseball like in other sports where crowd hostility is a significant factor because of the noise or distraction that it generates. The one exception where away stats are automatically meaningful is for a team that plays in an outlier home ballpark such as Colorado. Colorado plays in arguably the most hitters-friendly ballpark, so it’s easy to compare how they perform away from Denver in order to gauge the degree of helpful influence that its ballpark exercises on its hitting. With any other team, one must proceed cautiously.

During the season, Boston’s OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) was .829 at home and .756 on the road. On the one hand, because a team will play most of its games in its own venue, managers want to acquire players whose skill set makes them generate better statistics in that respective venue. Boston’s manager is no exception. On the other hand, venues can only be so different from each other. Some will be more conducive to the strengths of an opposing lineup, others less so. Evaluating a lineup’s compatibility with a given ballpark becomes complicated because one must factor in the quality of the opposing pitching. For example, Boston generated a very high OPS in Kansas City. But the Royals’ pitching staff was also atrocious. But, there were venues of teams who aren’t really known for the quality of their pitching where Boston produced relatively poor numbers. One example would be Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field where Boston’s OPS was its second-worst, .603.

Boston did not play any regular-season games in Dodger Stadium — in fact, the Red Sox did not play L.A. at all during the season. But, we can still surmise whether Boston will have difficulties in this venue. For comparison’s sake, let’s look at why Boston’s Fenway Park is so great for the Red Sox. In Fenway, right-handed batters hit the eighth-highest ratio of home runs-to-pitches. Comparatively, lefties ranked 26th in the category. So, Fenway is really great for righty power. Boston’s top home-run hitters, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, both righties, hit a significantly higher percentage of their home runs at home than away. Still, Boston isn’t so home-run dependent because it ranks first in runs per game but eighth in homers per game. Lefties do better in Boston in terms of achieving doubles and triples. Lefties Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers hit a vastly higher rate of doubles at home than away.

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Can confirm that it never gets old. pic.twitter.com/qv74G2ckaD

— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 24, 2018
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Dodger Stadium is known for being more of a pitcher’s ballpark. Oddsmakers regularly put out lower betting totals for games played there. But we can still beat MLB oddsmakers by evaluating Boston’s compatibility in Dodger Stadium. By Boston’s compatibility, I mean above all the hitters who spearhead its lineup. Three of its four leaders in BA and its top three hitters in slugging are righties: Betts, Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts. The difficulty with Dodger Stadium is similar to that of Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field: righties hit below average there. The dimensions also make it significantly harder for righties to hit homers there. Lefties have a much easier time hitting homers in L.A. So, lefties (on both teams) will lose much of the double-producing prowess that they enjoyed in Boston. Lefties will hit more homers in L.A. Comparatively, righties lose a lot of power in L.A. and some ability to hit for higher averages.

The biggest challenge for Boston’s hitters in L.A. is that its top (right-handed) home-run hitters may be limited in an important aspect — in their capacity to hit homers. But, Boston is not so dependent on hitting homers. Plus, its left-handed batters are playing very well. Four of its top five batters in the postseason are left-handed. The one exception is Martinez while Betts is underperforming. Five of Boston’s 10 postseason homers have come from lefties. So, Boston traveling to L.A. isn’t really worrisome for the batters. For the pitchers, they’ve allowed the 10th-fewest homers to lefties. Their ERA was seventh-best on the road away from hitters-friendly Fenway. They are prepared for lefty-power-friendly L.A.

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