Of players from his era, the late 1960s and 1970s, Bob Watson was one of the batters most adversely impacted by his home ballpark. He spent 14 seasons in the Astrodome, where the large expanses of the outfield hampered his power numbers. But on the road, Watson showed how good a hitter he was. From 1970 to 1979, Watson’s .850 OPS ranked eighth in the major leagues for road games. The figure was better than that of Bobby Bonds, Dave Parker, and Johnny Bench. Only four players: Bench, Tony Perez, Reggie Jackson, and Lee May, drove in more runs on the road in the 1970s than Watson.
The 1970s happened to coincide precisely with Watson’s first ten full seasons. At the same time, Tony Perez, who was four years older than Watson, was in the same league playing the same position, facing the same pitchers. But Watson played half his games in the cavernous Astrodome, which was a pitcher’s park, while Perez played half his games at Riverfront Park in Cincinnati or Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Here are the road stats for the two players for that decade:
The only real difference between Watson and Perez in the 1970s was that Perez had a much better home ballpark and he played on a great team. He’s in the Hall of Fame and few people remember Watson.