The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the regular season with 104 wins, the most in the majors, and defeated the Chicago Cubs to advance to the World Series. They will have home-field advantage no matter their opponent, either the New York Yankees or the Houston Astros.
“This time it counts” was the advertising mantra for many years of the MLB All-Star Game, but starting with the 2017 Midsummer Classic, this exhibition game is no longer tied to home-field advantage in the World Series.
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners that went into effect in December, World Series home-field advantage will now be determined by best record between the two teams, a marked improvement over the previous method.
Major League Baseball’s response to having the 2002 All-Star Game end in a tie was to add some sort of incentive to the midseason exhibition. The solution was to give World Series home-field advantage to the league that won the All-Star Game. The American League won the first seven All-Star Games under this new system and had home-field advantage in the Fall Classic in 11 of the 14 seasons under that arrangement.
While tying World Series home-field advantage to the All-Star Game seemed silly, it wasn’t any more unfair than the previous system, which was to simply alternate home-field advantage between leagues every season.
The 1995 Cleveland Indians, for instance, went 100-44 in a strike-shortened season, but because it was the National League’s turn, the 90-win Atlanta Braves had home-field advantage in the World Series and won in six games.
The 1987 St. Louis Cardinals won 95 games, but in an American League year, the 85-win Minnesota Twins — a team that was outscored by 20 runs on the season — had home-field advantage and won a seven-game series in which the home team won every game.
Under the new system, the team with the better record will open the World Series at home. If both teams have the same record, the next tiebreaker is head-to-head record. If that doesn’t solve it, the team with the best record within its own division gets home-field advantage.
The new system is about as fair as baseball can offer and not something we have to worry about anymore while watching the All-Star Game.