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Best Offenses

 

     Since 1900, seven teams have scored 1,000 or more runs in a season: 4 of those 7 were the New York Yankees "Murderer's Row" squads of the 1930s: 1930 (1,062), 1931 (1,067), 1932 (1,002), and 1936 (1,065).  The other three are the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals, who scored 1,004 runs; the 1999 Cleveland Indians, who scored 1,009; and the 1950 Boston Red Sox (1,027).

     But all of those teams scored their totals in big offensive years.  In 5 of the 7 seasons in which a team scored 1,000+ runs, the league average was above 800.  But if we compare teams to the league average, here is what we get:

 

 

Team

Runs Lg. Avg. % above avg
1931 New York Yankees 1,067 794 +34.3
1976 Cincinnati Reds 857 645 +32.9
1950 Boston Red Sox 1,027 782 +31.4
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers 955 739 +29.2
1927 New York Yankees 975 762 +28.0
1930 New York Yankees 1,062 834 +27.4
1942 St. Louis Cardinals 755 598 +26.3
1965 Cincinnati Reds 825 656 +25.8
1946 Boston Red Sox 792 792 +25.7
1975 Cincinnati Reds 840 668 +25.7

   Another way to determine a great offense is not by referencing the relationship to the league average, but by looking at how many standard deviations above the average the team ended up.  Here are the top teams in that category (excluding the Colorado Rockies, whose run stats are juiced by at least 25% as a result of the ballpark):

 

 

Team

Runs # Std Dev above lg. avg
1976 Cincinnati Reds 857 + 2.44
1975 Cincinnati Reds 840 + 2.36
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers 955 + 2.24
1993 Philadelphia Phillies 877 + 2.23
1982 Milwaukee Brewers 891 + 2.15
1965 Minnesota Twins 774 + 2.14
1986 New York Mets 825 + 2.08
1935 Detroit Tigers 919 + 2.08
1968 Detroit Tigers 671 + 2.07
1949 Brooklyn Dodgers 879 + 2.06

   So which method is better?  Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein use the latter approach in Baseball Dynasties, but I have a preference for the former.  Regardless, the 1976 Reds and 1953 Dodgers are near the tops of both lists.  Both teams had a team slugging percentage exactly 63 points better than the league average.  The '53 Dodgers had an OBP of .366, 31 points better than the league average.  The '76 Reds also had a team OBP of .366 - what are the odds of that??? - and that was 46 points above the league average.

   In my book, the Reds come out slightly ahead; the Dodgers had the benefit of playing in Ebbetts Field, which had a park index of 107 that year and had a reputation for being a little more lively than old Riverfront Stadium, which was basically a neutral park.  But it's very close.

 


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