For Detroit Tigers Offense, Home Field Has Been Huge Advantage


April 30, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman

Prince Fielder

(28) receives congratulations from third baseman

Miguel Cabrera

(left) after he hits a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been no place like home for the Detrot Tigers who have started the season with a 10-3 record in games played at Comerica Park (compared to 5-7 on the road).

Usually when we think of the Tigers’ advantage at Comerica Park we think of the expansive outfield and the benefit (and confidence) that gives to pitchers. Last year, for example, Detroit hurlers combined to post an ERA a half-run lower (3.51) at home than on the road (4.05). But that hasn’t been the case so far this season. In the month of April, Tigers pitchers combined for a 3.74 ERA at home and a 3.40 ERA on the road. There’s really nothing there to read into – small sample size and data noise and all that – but it is interesting to note that the team’s advantage at home has really had nothing to do with pitching so far.

The offense, however, has been killing it at home. They were better at Comerica Park (4.8 runs per game) than they were elsewhere (4.2 runs per game) a season ago, but the difference so far this season has been five times as severe. In the 12 road games in April, Detroit managed to eek out only 3.3 runs per game. In the 13 home games, that output jumped up to 6.5 runs per game.

That number might appear to be superficially inflated* by the current homestand – a homestand that has seen the Tigers hit 11 home runs in the last five games – but it’s really not. They’ve actually scored fewer runs this homestand (only 6.4 per game) than they did in the other homestand of the season when the New York Yankees and Toronoto Blue Jays came to town (6.7 runs per game).

*I believe it is superficially inflated in the fact that they won’t score 6.5 runs per game at home for the whole season, but it isn’t superficially inflated by just the current homestand.

They production came in different ways in the two homestands – more BABIP the first time and more home runs this time – but although the slash lines look different (.349/.411/.463 in early April, .305/.377/.519 in late April), they’ve lead to ver similar OPS’s: .873 and .897 respectively. All this to say that it’s been a fairly consistent output at home all year.

Here’s the team home/road splits for the season to day (the month of April).

It does’t even look like the same team could produce these lines. Surely there are other factors besides just being at home or on the road – the specific parks they’ve played in, the specific pitchers they’ve faced, and the gametime temperature among others – but, dang, that’s a big difference.

This trend isn’t going to hold all season – they’re bound to perform somewhat worse at home and somewhat better on the road in the future – but it’s a neat thing to look at.