The short answer to that question is: yes. It's always possible. Is it probable, on paper no. But then again, maybe it is. Follow me down the rabbit hole as I explain what my boredom at work has lead me to discover.
First off, lets throw out some knowns. Teams typically play better at home. This is especially true for young teams. A look at the past two seasons record splits will show this. In 2011, we had a veteran team for most of the year (average age was 28.3) and we ended up with a record of 56-106. The splits were 31-50 at home and 25-56 on the road. Which is a 38% winning percentage at home and a 30% winning percentage on the road. Not exactly even but close. In 2012, we had a very young team (average age was 26.5) and we ended up with a record of 55-107. The splits were 35-46 at home and 20-61 on the road. This translates to a 43% winning percentage at home and a 25% winning percentage on the road. Huge difference. This year, we have only gotten younger. And that, my friends, is a good thing, especially since young teams preform better at home.
I was looking at the past season's standings and something jumped out at me. 50+ wins at home. 7 teams did it last year and all 7 made the playoffs. I checked 2011. 6 teams did it and all 6 made the playoffs. I got excited. I know it's a small sample right now but I thought I was on to something. Win 50 at home and you are in. It's fool proof. I then checked 2010. Shouldn't have checked 2010. What a slap in the face to my perfect logic. 8 teams did it but only 5 of those teams made the playoffs. A little disheartened, I decided to go look at my 3 years of data and make a new plan. So I focused on wins. And so far, the 2010 Tigers were the lowest at 81-81. So not bad news. I revised my thinking to if you win 50 games at home, you don't finish with a losing record. Seems logical. So I tracked it all the way back to 2002. I figured 11 years of data isn't enough but it's a start and you can make a solid argument with it. I found 71 teams that met the criteria. Of those 71 teams, 59 made the playoffs. That's an 83% success rate. Turns out, the 2010 Tigers were still the lowest win total. So I decided to see what the average win total was. 92.9. I was a little shocked. Which means, if we go 50-31 at home, the trend says we should go at worst 31-50 on the road, but will probably be closer to the 43-38 average.
Now, I like to think of my self as a realist. Are we going to win 93 games this year? Probably not. But is it that far fetched for us to increase our home record by 10-15 games this year? I mean we do have a young team. They played better at home all around last year. Some of our key cogs, while still young, have a full year of experience in this league which will only help. And while I know we are moving to the "toughest division" and all but we did manage to go 6-9 vs the AL last year. Which includes a 4-5 record at home.
In conclusion, I think it's possible. And maybe it doesn't happen this year. That's ok. Because I know at the end of the year, we are all going to look at the home record and see an improvement. Maybe not all the way to 50, but closer. Low to mid 40s, if I had to guess. Which would mean we are only one year away from that magical 50+ home win mark and being competitive again.
I can see the end of the tunnel, can you?