The Tigers are 9-1. Does that mean anything?

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The Tigers improved to 9-1 in their first 10 games with a walk-off win against the White Sox on Friday afternoon. Jose Iglesias broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off RBI single to right-center. That followed eight superb innings from starter David Price, who allowed just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Does winning nine of your first 10 games mean anything? I used Baseball Reference’s “Streak Finder” to dig out all of the teams that won nine of their first 10 games, dating back to the turn of the millennium. (No team won their first 10 games.) The Tigers have become the ninth team to win nine of 10 since 2000. Here are the other eight:

  • 2002 Indians: Finished 74-88 in third place in the AL Central
  • 2003 Royals: Finished 83-79 in third place in the AL Central
  • 2003 Yankees: Finished 101-61 in first place in the AL East, lost the World Series to the Marlins
  • 2003 Giants: Finished 100-61 in first place in the NL West, lost the NLDS to the Marlins
  • 2009 Marlins: Finished 87-75 in second place in the NL East
  • 2011 Rangers: Finished 96-66 in first place in the AL West, lost the World Series to the Cardinals
  • 2012 Dodgers: Finished 86-76 in second place in the NL West
  • 2013 Braves: Finished 96-66 in first place in the NL East, lost the NLDS to the Dodgers

Of the eight teams to start 9-1, half of them (four) finished in first place, two finished in second place, two finished in third place. None finished in fourth place or lower. Four of the teams reached the post-season with two getting knocked out of the first round while the other two lost the World Series.

The Tigers have a +34 run differential, the best in baseball ahead of the 7-2 Royals at +29. Of the eight teams to have previously started 9-1, three of them had a run differential in the 30’s: the ’02 Indians (+35), the ’03 Yankees (+37), and the ’11 Rangers (+34). Two of the three reached the World Series.

The Tigers are the 10th team since 2000 to start with a run differential in the 30’s. Five of the previous nine teams (including the ’03 Yankees and ’11 Rangers, of course) reached the post-season. Two won their division while three lost the World Series (the other being the 2002 Giants, who were +37 in their first 10 games).

Whether we’re going off of starting record or run differential, recent history seems to suggest that it’s still essentially a coin flip whether or not the Tigers reach the post-season. That being said, with an average of 90 wins, teams that started 9-1 turned out to be highly competitive teams. Tigers fans should be buckled in for a fun season.