Throughout the regular season, both the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians saw a significant benefit from playing at their home ballpark (Fenway Park and Progressive Field, respectively). A look at the home and away splits for each team:
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are offensively strong no matter where they're playing. They get a nice boost in hitting for average when at home and they strike out far less. Interestingly enough, they hit fewer home runs at home, but their slugging is way up (probably helped in part to the giant wall in left field that David Ortiz likes to hit doubles off of). The Boston offense is above average on the road and incredibly potent when in Fenway.
We know that the Red Sox are a better offense than the Cleveland Indians. We also know that the Tribe has played much better at home than on the road throughout all of 2016, and the numbers seem to reflect that. Numbers for the Indians are better across the board at home, and it's not even really close. With a 136 point difference between home and road OPS, it's great news that Cleveland will have home field advantage against the deadly Red Sox offense.The games in Cleveland should bode well for the Indians; the games on the road may prove to be a great challenge.
The Red Sox and Indians played each other six times during the season, with 3 games being played in each park. Keep in mind that the following stats only encompass a sample size of three games for the visiting team at each park.
|Boston Red Sox||.300||.365||.492||.858||.336||121|
Umm...well, that's not good. Thank goodness for the #2 seed, right? The Cleveland Indians have not played well at all when they visited Fenway Park this season. Granted, these stats for Cleveland only account for 3 games in Fenway Park, so it is a fairly small sample size. But the Red Sox are flat-out destructive when playing in their backyard. At most, the Indians will only need to play two games against Boston in Fenway, which is most likely for the best.
|Boston Red Sox||.284||.342||.514||.855||.289||119|
That's better. It's not optimal, but it's at least competitive. In a very limited sample, the Red Sox seem to have just as good of an offense at Progressive Field as they do in Fenway Park. The pitching may struggle against the Red Sox in both parks, but the offense should be able to stand toe to toe against them when they play at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
Here's where things start to turn around for the Cleveland Indians.
Boston Red Sox
Oddly enough, the Red Sox pitching staff seems to pitch better when they're away from Fenway Park, but not by much in terms of xFIP. They tend to walk more batters per nine innings, and they seem to give up less home runs than in the bandbox that is Fenway Park.
One of the most noteworthy things for the Indians in relation to the Red Sox is that they give up more home runs regardless of where they're playing. Otherwise, they beat out the Red Sox in virtually every category (save away ERA), including xFIP. Since the beginning of the season, the Indians have relied on strong pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen, to supplement a surprisingly potent offense. That pattern will need to continue into the postseason if the Indians hope to make a deep run.
Everyone knows that the Red Sox are explosive at home and solid on the road. Thankfully, the Indians will have home field advantage in the ALDS and will be able to play the majority of games at home where they should be offensively similar to the Red Sox. The deciding factor will be the strength of the pitching and minimizing the Red Sox away from Fenway Park. If they can do that, the ALDS should be an exciting, competitive series of games.