2020 MLB: Home-Road Split Differences
Every season, there are plenty of surprises. The 2020 MLB season is no exception and there have already been more than a fair share of surprises. On top of that, there have been a number of position players who have struggled to get their rhythm together at the plate.
Just take Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers as an example. Yelich was runner-up in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2019. So far this season? The almost-29-year-old outfielder is batting .218/.358/.453 over the span of 218 plate appearances in the first season since inking a seven-year, $215 million dollar extension with the Brewers this last offseason. Not what you would expect.
However, that’s just proof of the struggles that some players are having at the plate. Beyond struggles, there are some that have performed much differently at their home ballpark compared to on the road or vice versa. Many of those players are ones that you wouldn’t expect.
Five MLB Players With Significant Differences in Their Home-Road Splits
1. Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has certainly built up a legacy in the Queen City. Votto has been a staple of the Reds organization since he was originally drafted during the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft. The 37-year-old has three more guaranteed seasons on his contract before he is due to hit free agency. Although Votto has serious potential at times when healthy, his home versus road splits this year are somewhat curious.
So far through 27 games at home in Great American Ballpark, he is batting .333/.459/.678. In that span, Votto has 30 hits, four doubles, nine home runs, 16 RBI, 21 walks, and 16 strikeouts. Now, when he has been on the road over the course of 23 games, Votto is hitting at a .108/.213/.181 clip. Over that sample, Votto has nine hits, three doubles, one home run, two home runs, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts. Incredible how much different of a hitter Joey Votto has been at home compared to on the road. “Vottomatic” does things at an automatic rate, but if the Reds make the postseason they are going to have to hope that he performs well away from Cincinnati.
2. Adam Duvall (Atlanta Braves)
Atlanta Braves left fielder Adam Duvall has been an important part of the Braves lineup to date. While he has cooled off as of late, it was only a few weeks ago that Duvall was one of the more feared batters in Atlanta’s lineup. Regardless though, opposing teams should not let their guard down with Duvall at the plate because at any time he has the potential to hit the ball out of the ballpark or do even more damage in key situations.
When the 32-year-old outfielder is at home, he has a slash line of .324/.395/.676. That comes over the span of 24 games and if you add all of his offensive numbers together in Atlanta, he’s got an OPS of 1.071! Now, outside of Atlanta things are vastly different for Duvall. On the road over a sample of 29 games, he is batting .194/.245/.495. He does have nine home runs on the road compared to seven at home but has 31 strikeouts total compared to only 19 at Truist Park. Now that Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth, it’s going to be interesting to see how Duvall does at Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park.
3. Willy Adames (Tampa Bay Rays)
Shortstop Willy Adames aka “The Kid” of the Tampa Bay Rays has struggled to this point this season. Adames originally made his MLB debut in May 2018 and was always a highly regarded prospect coming up through Tampa Bay’s farm system. The good news is that he is still 25-years old and there is a chance that he has yet to reach his full peak. Additionally, this likely isn’t a good season to evaluate him off of due to the unique circumstances involved.
Despite that though, the numbers at Tropicana Field compared to other National and American League East ballparks are shocking. At home through 22 games to date, he is batting .155/.231/.282 with 11 hits, six doubles, one home run, four RBI, seven walks, and 31 strikeouts. Now, on the road, Adames is much more of an offensive threat. Through 28 games or 98 at-bats, he has a slash line of .327/.405/.612. Yes, he does have 40 strikeouts on the road, but the on-base percentage is much better. If Adames can find a way to hit come October in the bubble ballparks, then that could help to lengthen the Rays lineup.
4. Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)
Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins first got called up to the big leagues in 2015. Since that point, he has had a very injury-marred tenure in the big leagues. When he is healthy and performing at his best, Buxton can make outstanding defensive plays in centerfield and has some offensive potential which is a bonus for the Twins. In fact, Buxton landed on the Injured List earlier this year with right shoulder inflammation. He returned at the start of this month though which was good news for Minnesota.
While the Twins aka “The Bomba Squad” has plenty of offensive pop up and down its lineup, Buxton provides some valuable depth at the bottom of the batting order. To date, a majority of Buxton’s at-bats have come in the seven, eight, or nine-hole of the lineup. Now, away from Target Field Buxton is hitting at a .375/.386/.893 clip entering play Tuesday which is stellar. In contrast, at home through a span of 62 at-bats, Buxton has a .177/.185/.339 slash line. The Twins have said they want to start the postseason at home, but for Buxton, it might be more valuable to start it on the road.
5. Matt Olson (Oakland Athletics)
“The Matt Show” is a big part of the Oakland Athletics lineup and first baseman Matt Olson makes up one-half of that. Olson was originally drafted by the Athletics during the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft and made his MLB debut in 2016. The two-time Gold Glove winner is currently in the midst of his age-26 season and has provided a significant amount of impact in Oakland’s lineup with third baseman Matt Chapman on the Injured List.
One important note is that Olson’s home versus road splits aren’t nearly as vastly different as the other names on the list. Entering Tuesday, the Coliseum has been Matt Olson’s biggest friend. Over the span of 95 at-bats in Oakland, Olson had put up a .232/.365/.558 slash line with 22 hits, nine home runs, 29 RBI, 19 walks, and 30 strikeouts. Outside of Oakland on the road, his slash line sits at .160/.255/.340 to date. He’s got 37 strikeouts on the road along with 15 hits, five home runs, 13 RBI, and 12 walks. Oakland is going to be relying on Olson quite a bit come October.
The 2020 season has certainly been abnormal in many different ways. The massive differences in the home versus road split for the five aforementioned players represent an example of one of the abnormal factors for position players to this point. With the postseason quickly approaching, only time will tell how some of those hitters will fare.
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