Prince Fielder's 3-run, opposite field, All-Star homerun was definitely not an "oh my goodness" blast, but it stands a chance to be the biggest homerun of the year; especially if Miller Park hosts the seventh game of the 2011 World Series. It would be a Hollywood finish to a Brewers season that has been anything but Hollywood. It's looked more like a hard to figure Captain Beefheart song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IbvSmLqqZw&feature=related But, "It's better than it sounds."
With a 33-14 record at home so far, the Brewers have made Miller park, a two-fisted slopper's paradise. The home cooking has minimized a shocking 16-31 road woe of a record; one you gotta figure will stabilize at some point. But even if it doesn't, the division title and World Series crown is still attainable.
Through Friday Night's games, 16 of 30 major league teams have losing records on the road. The Brewers are not the worst. That distinction belongs to the Kansas City Royals (14-28) and Baltimore Orioles (14-30). The Brewers are second to last, tied with Oakland (16-32). This is not good company. These are not teams that anyone expects to be competing in the post season. But these teams differ from the Brewers in that their home records aren't that good either. The Brewers are all alone when it comes to win discrepancy home and away and this makes them both unique and very frustrating.
The 2011 Brewers do not necessarily seem better suited for Miller Park than another stadium. The ball does carry well and this does seem to benefit Brewer bashers who go yard with greater frequency at home. As a team, they've hit 63 homeruns at Miller Park and 41 on the road. That puts the Brewers third in home runs at home, behind the Yankees and Rangers who have hit 81 in Arlington and only 34 on the road. Overall, Miller Park currently ranks 10th in Park Factors homeruns with a ranking of 1.108 . So, it's a good place to be a homerun hitter, but so is Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati), Minute Maid Park (Houston), Yankee Stadium, Turner Stadium (Atlanta), and Nationals Park. These are all places the Brewers have played this year.
As far as the pitching staff, the Brewers walk a few fewer batters at home and are a little more prone to giving up the long ball on the road, but overall the pitching has not been that different home and away. What has been different is the home and away offensive gap....279/.351/.466 versus .232/.286/.368 on the road.
An upgrade on the left side of the infield would help, but there is something else at work here that seems to elude all logical analysis. Maybe, it should be chalked up as this season's weird anomaly. Even if Brewers continue to lose so mightily on the road, they can still win the World Series...assuming they do the opposite at home. It's been done before. The biggest obstacles are the Cardinals and Pirates and well, they just don't seem so threatening. In a seven game series, if the Brewers can scrounge up one road win, I'm rolling out the barrel.
The Twins and Cardinals hold the dubious distinction of being World Series winners with horrible regular season records; the Twins in 1987 and the Cardinals in 2006. The 1987 Twins most resemble the Brewers of 2011 in that their regular season road record was 29-52. These are two totally different teams in two totally different seasons, but it's refreshing nonetheless. In that 87 Series, the Twins and Cardinals became the first teams to win every home game in a World Series. The Twins did it again in 1991 and then 10 years later in 2001 the Diamondbacks and the Yankees did the same. They won all their home games.
A trip to the playoffs would feel a lot more realistic for the Brewers if they could follow that old adage of playing .500 ball on the road, but this is no ordinary adage type of team. This is the 2011 Brewers who happen to close out the season with six games at home; three against the Marlins and three against the Pirates.