The Washington Nationals entered the 2012 MLB postseason with the best record in major league baseball. The success from the regular season awarded them with home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but is it really home field advantage in the division series?
This year the MLB shifted its playoff format in the ALDS and NLDS from a 2-2-1 to a 2-3 format. The 2-2-1 gives the team with home field advantage the opportunity to host games 1 and 2, then game 5 if necessary. This gives the home team the upper hand earlier in the series then again if the series has to go the whole five games. The new format gives the home field advantage in terms of more games and the upper hand if a series goes the whole five games, but does not give them the first home game or even the second one at that. As the team that gets the first two home games, the advantage can give them a two-win lead before the home team can even play at home.
So far in the ALDS and the NLDS the only team that had the “home field advantage” and won the first two games away from home was the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won both their games in San Francisco against the Giants and brought the series home to Cincinnati yesterday for the kill. Unfortunately they could now close the book on the Giants as they dropped the postseason home opener, 2-1.
The Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers series was one of the series that seemed to be affected by the new format. In the ALDS matchup that the A’s should have had the home field advantage, they brought the series to Oakland quickly down two games after playing the first two games in Detroit. Oakland won yesterday’s matchup, taking advantage of the home field advantage that they should have had from the beginning. Oakland will be at home for the rest of the series.
The other two match ups in the playoffs were both split in the lower seed’s homes. The only thing is these two matchups are the contests featuring the best records in the AL and the NL and the two wild card winners. The New York Yankees have had trouble at Camden Yards during the regular season, but won the first game of the series, 7-2 after a late surge in the game. The second game went to the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2. The series now goes to the Bronx where it will at least go to game 4.
And finally in the series that I care for the most, the Washington Nationals took the first game in St. Louis, 3-2 against the Cardinals. The returning World Series champions entered the postseason as the wild card following a play-in game against the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals took game 2 of the NLDS in a blowout fashion, 12-4. The series comes to DC split, so the Nats may have the upper hand, as they are the home team for the rest of the series.
Today’s playoff game is the first postseason game in DC since the 1933 Senators won the American league title. The Nationals and Cardinals will play at 1pm. Follow @fmWSl for live tweeting during the game.