Rangers must build on success

Originally Published: March 9, 2005
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Here's one of my favorite freak stats of 2004: In road games, the Detroit Tigers outscored the Boston Red Sox.

It's true. Last season, the Tigers ranked fourth in the American League with 444 runs in road games, while the Red Sox tied for fifth with 432 road runs.

Does that mean the Tigers were a better offensive club than the Red Sox last season? Not necessarily; the Red Sox probably faced slightly tougher pitching. But in almost exactly the same number of at-bats, the Tigers hit more singles, more doubles, more triples, and (believe it or not) more home runs than the Red Sox in road games.

So who's responsible for this accomplishment? Ivan Rodriguez played a big part, of course, but actually a number of holdovers from the 2003 club contributed, too – the same 2003 club that finished last in road scoring, and by a healthy margin.

Why do we look at road runs? In this case, it's particularly illuminating because the Tigers play their home games in a pitcher's park. They're never going to pile up a huge number of runs, but if they can rank in the top half of the league in road runs, they're doing pretty well.

The mirror of the 2004 Tigers were the 2004 Rangers. Their pitchers are never going to look great, because their home ballpark is the toughest park for pitchers in the American League. So we look at their road stats to see how well they're actually doing.