Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who is kidding who? Finishing ahead of the Rangers extremely important for the Detroit Tigers

The Tigers have clinched the American League Central title, but the pennant race is far from complete.
The Rangers caught the Tigers Tuesday for the second-best record in the American League among division leaders.
In the meantime, the Tigers are setting up their rotation for the postseason (Max Scherzer and Doug Fister are both pitching tonight) and turned in an uninspired performance against Kansas City in a blowout loss Tuesday.
I understand what happened in 2006 - when the Tigers collapsed and lost the division title, didn't host Oakland to begin the ALDS and instead traveled to New York to face the Yankees. I understand they won the series anyway and eventually advanced to the World Series.
But that doesn't mean lightning will strike twice in the same place. The Yankees of that era were in a period of transition.
The Tiger would be much better served having home field advantage against Boston or Tampa Bay in the ALDS than not having home field advantage against the Yankees. According to research done by USA Today, road teams have only won 47 percent of the games in division series since the wild card system was implemented in 1995. Only three years in division series have road teams had better records than home teams - 2002, 2004 and last year.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but the odds would favor the Tigers much more if they beat out Texas and get the home field edge in the ALDS against two teams which were inferior to the Yankees this season.
Also, there is the matter of momentum. This issue has been brought up a lot by Tigers’ fans. Have they peaked too soon? My answer to that has been, "No." Peaking in September is generally perfect. But I'll amended that if the Tigers treat the last week of the regular season like the final week of spring training and just let the Rangers cruise to a better record.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OF COURSE the Tigers want home field advantage - who wouldn't??? At the same time, you write "only 47 percent" of the road teams won division series since the wild card was introduced. Isn't that like saying about half the time the road team wins? Or did I misread what you wrote...?

1:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It's game. 129-115 in favor or home team. That's a big number number and a big sample size. Like comparing one team that is much better over a course of more than a season compared to another head-to-head.

1:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering that the home team is usually the better team I'm surprised that winning percentage isn't a lot bigger.

2:53 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I think it is a good-sized percentage.

12:55 PM 

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