With its 25-runs scored, Game 5 of the World Series between the Astros and Dodgers brought back plenty of memories of Game 4 of the 1993 World Series where the Blue Jays and Phillies combined for a staggering 29 runs. Those 29 runs scored by Toronto (15) and Philadelphia (14) is still a post-season record, but what separates that game between the Blue Jays and Phillies from Sunday’s game in Houston was the way in which the teams went about scoring their runs.
I know it’s just one game, but it’s interesting to see how a high-scoring game in 2017 compares to one that took place in 1993. Although there were plenty of similarities between the two games, the biggest difference was the way that runs were generated. Of the 25 runs scored between Houston and Los Angeles, 60% (15) came via the long ball. This compared to Toronto and Philadelphia where only 20.7% (6) of the 29 runs came from a home run. In fact, the winning team from Game 4 of the ’93 series, the Blue Jays, didn’t even have one home run. Whereas the winning team on Sunday, the Astros, scored 76.9% (10 of 13) of their runs via the home run.
Back in 1993, Toronto and Philadelphia would combine for a ridiculous 32 hits over 9-innings, of which just 3 or 9.4% of them were home runs. Houston and LA on the other hand combined for 28 hits over 10-innings, 7 of which were home runs, accounting for 25% of all the hits.
So what does this say about today’s game that so many of the runs come via the long ball? Was Sunday’s game a one off, or are these outrageous power numbers something that’s going to remain a big part of how teams go about scoring runs moving forwards. Buck Martinez mentioned during the broadcast that it’s next to impossible for teams to string together 3-4 base hits these days, which is why they’re swinging for the fences as often as they do. As much as I respect Martinez’ opinion, his comment about baseball’s inability to string together hits may just be an excuse for teams making a move towards the power game.
Of the four teams discussed in this piece, the team that scored the most runs out of them all, the ’93 Blue Jays, was also the only team not to have a home run. And as the 2015 Royals proved, teams don’t need to focus on the long ball in order to be successful, even in today’s game. Major League Baseball seems to think home runs are what’s best for the game, but if they continue to meddle with the design of the baseball, and as home run fences get shorter and shorter, there may be a time in the not so distant future when this great game becomes little more than home runs.