Every year, casual sports fans ask the same question: does the MLB All Star Game actually matter? It’s a valid question, actually. The players don’t really try, pitchers go easy and stay in only a single inning. There’s too much at stake for the rest of the season to even remotely risk an injury, and it shows in the intensity of the game. While these are the best players in the game, the All Star Game is typically very boring to watch.
But, the serious baseball fan knows something else. They know that the All Star Game winner is helping their league gain an advantage in the World Series. Only two teams will go to the World Series, but the team from the league that does win the All Star Game ends up getting an advantage. If the series does go 7 games, the winning league gets that extra game as a home field advantage.
The American League won this year, giving them a potential 4 games at home and 3 away. The World Series doesn’t go 7 games often, but it does give the home team a slight advantage if it does. Unlike in the NFL, where the home field advantage is a full 3 points, in baseball, the swing is much less. Since 1920, the home team tends to win only about 53 percent of the time. It’s a small edge for sure, but an edge nonetheless. If that team already has the advantage when it comes to skill, it makes the home team that much more likely to win.
If you were to look at the outcome of the World Series each year in comparison to how the All Star Game went, you would think that the All Star winner’s league would have a slightly higher win rate. In reality, the win rate is far higher than slightly. 23 of the last 29 World Series have been won by the team with the home field advantage, or 79 percent. Since the All Star Game began influencing the home field advantage for the World Series in 2002, 8 out of 12 All Star Game winning leagues have won it all. That’s 67 percent, and although it’s a lot lower than 79 percent, it’s still a huge advantage. It just puts an even bigger emphasis on how important this meaningless game in the middle of the season actually is.
If you are a sports bettor, the odds are higher for an American League team to win the Series, and the top three teams in the AL right now are the Kansas City Royals, the LA Angels, and the Minnesota Twins. If history repeats itself, the Royals are the team to beat. The Angels also have a great team, especially with Mike Trout having a phenomenal year. He’s also a great player to pick up for a daily fantasy league game, if you can get him at a semi-decent price. Spending too much on a player doesn’t make much sense, even if he is great. Unfortunately, the odds are if you don’t already have him in your season long fantasy league you never will.
So, next time you wonder whether or not the All Star Game is a necessity, remember this. It isn’t necessary, but it is a great litmus test for October. It’s not a perfect indicator, but it can help you determine the outcome of the World Series just a little bit more precisely. Whether you’re just a casual fan or a serious bettor or fantasy sports player, this is a pretty useful piece of information to have.