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Home Sweet Home

 

This article describes ten pitchers with drastic home/road splits: nine pitchers who thrive while pitching at home, as well as one pitcher who much prefers to pitch on the road. Interestingly, only one San Francisco Giant and one San Diego Padre make the list.

In this list, I have tried to avoid listing any pitcher whose splits are likely a fluke. For example, this season Carlos Zambrano has a 2.40 ERA at home and a 4.08 ERA on the road, but over the past three seasons his home ERA (3.28) was almost exactly the same as his road ERA (3.30). The pitchers listed below seem to benefit, for one reason or another, from pitching in their home park.

Greg Maddux: now the very definition of a crafty veteran, Maddux has thrived in the pitching-friendly environment in San Diego, posting a 1.70 home ERA, as compared to a 4.75 road ERA. Maddux’s K/BB ratios are similar (25/8 on the road, 20/7 at home), but he has allowed 61 hits on the road, as compared to 33 at home. Last season, his ratio was nearly identical at home (53/12) as it was on the road (51/13), but his home ERA was 3.59 and his road ERA was 4.65.

Dustin McGowan: McGowan’s inclusion on this list surprised me, as the Rogers Centre is not known as being a pitcher’s park the way some of the other parks around the league are. However, McGowan’s splits don’t lie: this year, his home ERA is 1.73, while his road ERA is 6.28. Last season he had similar (albeit not quite as drastic) splits: a 3.27 home ERA versus a 4.91 road ERA.

Jonathan Sanchez: While Sanchez is a solid pitcher with an excellent track record,  he has certainly been helped by his home park. Sanchez has an impressive 2.90 home ERA, while sporting a less-than-stellar 5.97 ERA on the road.

Kenny Rogers: The Gambler has prolonged his career by pitching well in Comerica Park for several years now. This year, he has a 3.79 home ERA and a 4.76 road ERA. A quick glance at previous years suggests this isn’t a fluke: last year his home ERA was 3.34 while his road ERA was 5.79; the year before his home ERA was 3.26 and his road ERA was 4.41.

Jeff Suppan: For whatever reason, it appears that Suppan enjoys pitching in Milwaukee. His home ERA this year is 1.67, while his road ERA is 5.70. While not as drastic, his splits from last year are also pronounced: he had a 3.87 ERA at Miller Park in his first season with the Brewers, but a 5.38 away from home.

James Shields: Shields has built upon last season’s breakout partly due to his stellar performance at Tropicana Field. This season, his home ERA is 1.72, while his road ERA is 6.99. Throughout his relatively short career, Shields has pitched better at home: coming into this season, his career ERA at home was 3.67, as opposed to 4.82 away from the Trop.

Paul Maholm: Another strange member of this list, Maholm must enjoy the beautiful PNC Park in Pittsburgh. This season he has pitched quite well at home, with a 3.42 ERA, but has posted a 6.15 road ERA. Oddly enough, these numbers are reflective of his entire career: up until this season, his career home ERA was 3.68 while his road ERA was 5.65.

Dana Eveland: the hefty lefty has been one of the main reasons why the Athletics have exceeded expectations this year. While Eveland’s 4.10 road ERA is very respectable, his 3.12 ERA at home has been excellent (despite his having worse peripherals at home).

Roy Oswalt: Oswalt is having a strange season. For the first time in his entire career, Oswalt is pitching better on the road than he is at home, with a 5.48 home ERA and 4.67 road ERA. However, in his career (including this season), his home ERA is 2.70, while his road ERA is 3.73. Considering Oswalt has pitched over 1500 innings in his career, this seems significant. Odds are that Oswalt will pitch much better at home during the rest of the season than he has so far.

 

Conversely, one pitcher stands out as having drastic splits in the opposite direction, posting much better numbers away from home.

Josh Beckett: Fenway isn’t an easy place to pitch, and the fact that Josh Beckett has been so good this year and last year is even more impressive when you take his home park into account. This season, Beckett has managed only a 4.81 ERA at home, while posting a stellar 3.27 ERA on the road. Last season, his splits were even more pronounced: he had a 4.17 home ERA, as compared to a 2.18 road ERA.