Lately, I have proceeded to do a multitude of research on various things regarding the great game of baseball. One of the things that I examined happened to be the impact of the home run on a team in terms of wins and losses. Why? Because I wanted to see how much impact home runs actually have on wins and losses for every team. I wanted to see if there was a direct correlation between them. The answer didn’t really shock me, per se, but the way that it stood out is what did the trick. Hell, the top four teams in the American League in home runs all have a winning record. Coincidence? Not really. And four of the top five teams in the National League in home runs have a winning record. Again, coincidence? Not entirely. There have been 4769 home runs in baseball this season to date (September 25th). With that said, are you ready to crunch some numbers?
The Arizona Diamondbacks, one of the worst teams in baseball this season, have hit 163 home runs this season. Of those 163, 55.8% (91) have come in their victories. Meanwhile, their pitching staff has given up just 29.2% (47) of their home runs during a victory. So, with one of the worst teams as a baseline for this analysis, let’s look at another epically bad team. The Washington Nationals are in the same boat. They have 144 home runs this season. Of those 144, 53.5% (77) have come in victories. At the same time, like the Diamondbacks, their pitching staff has cut down the home runs. In victories, the Nationals have allowed just 24.3% (41) of their home runs. So what is the summary here? Home runs matter, but not in the way you think.
Driving a ball over the fence obviously helps your chances at winning the game. However, the main factor here is that teams that can limit home runs hit against them have a far higher chance of winning a game than a team that gives up a home run. And it’s by an astronomical margin. It really is.
Exhibit A: New York Yankees
Wins: 87 Home Runs Allowed (97 games)
Losses: 88 Home Runs Allowed (56 games)
Analysis: The New York Yankees are allowing 0.90 home runs per game during a win. However, during a loss, they’re allowing 1.57 home runs per game. That’s nearly a 0.70 difference. That’s just something that you don’t see every day. Think it’s just the Yankees? Think again.
Exhibit B: Los Angeles Angels
Wins: 82 Home Runs Allowed (90 games)
Losses: 93 Home Runs Allowed (62 games)
Analysis: The Los Angeles Angels are allowing 0.91 home runs per game during a win. Exactly 0.01 more than the Yankees. And, like the Yankees, they’re allowing a higher rate during losses. The Angels are allowing 1.50 home runs per game during a loss. That’s nearly a 0.60 difference. It’s only 0.10 less than the Yankees but, at the same time, they’re in the same ballpark even though the balls are not.
Exhibit C: Boston Red Sox
Wins: 63 Home Runs Allowed (91 games)
Losses: 85 Home Runs Allowed (61 games)
Analysis: The Boston Red Sox are allowing 0.69 home runs per game during a victory. During a loss, they’re allowing 1.39 home runs per game. A difference, like the Yankees, of 0.70 between a victory and a loss.
So what does the data show? Well, it’s quite simple really. If your team is hitting at least one home run per game and not allowing at least one home run per game, then they’re going to be a team over .500. It’s as simple as that. Teams live and die by the home run but in different ways. Certain teams can jack them out. Certain teams can prevent them. Certain teams can do both. Either way, the data shows the same conclusion. A team will only go as far as the ball travels.
P.S.: First time I've ever made a graph on Photoshop. Felt weird. And if anyone wants the numbers for every team, let me know.
The red bar is for victories and the blue bar is for losses. In case people didn't realize that.