The Dodgers’ 10-3 win on Tuesday night marked the 11th time this season they’ve scored in double digits. They battled for the lineup in two separate innings against the Baltimore Orioles.
You had the right to feel good, just not great.
Not on a day when five other MLB teams also had 10 runs, three more 11s, another 13 while losing to a 16-point team, and the Chicago Cubs them all in a 17-3 win over the Washington Nationals surpassed.
That’s a dozen teams scoring in double digits and that has got to be a record, right?
Oh wait, 13 teams scored 10 or more runs on July 4, 1894 — let’s talk fireworks — but that was only season two The pitching surface was 60 feet 6 inches Let’s just say it was an adjustment period in pre-modern baseball.
Otherwise Tuesday was historic. Four separate games ended with both teams scoring at least 10 runs, which had not happened since 1894. Coca-Cola began bottling its product that spring, so perhaps hitters back then were being smothered in unprecedented amounts of sugar, caffeine, and whatever else was in cola.
129 years later, MLB is in yet another phase of adjustment involving pitch clock and other rules designed to increase the pace of play. Defensive shifts are prohibited, creating larger holes for ground balls and line drives that result in hits.
For one day, something set off a baseball smashing crescendo. For the first time this season, six players each hit two homers: Austin Riley, Christian Walker, Francisco Alvarez, Spencer Torkelson, Wilmer Flores and Josh Naylor.
Perhaps the turning point was the record heatwave across the country. A 2013 study entitled “The Effect of Temperature on Major League Baseball“showed that runs, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and home runs all increase significantly while walks decrease significantly in warm weather.
A single breakaway day doesn’t necessarily signal a trend, but the offensive is picking up.
The Dodgers led baseball last season with 847 runs — an average of 5.23 runs per game — and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .775. This year, their offense is even better, averaging 5.55 runs per game and a .783 OPS, yet they aren’t a leader in baseball in any category. Five teams — including the Angels at .777 — have higher OPS than the Dodgers last season, and three other teams are scoring more runs per game.
Offensive gains throughout the game were incremental rather than overwhelming. The overall MLB batting average is .248, up a notch from last year’s dismal .243, the fourth-lowest in modern times. Before we suggest batsmen adopt the rule, let’s get the value at least above .250.
Other metrics also reflect modest gains: hits, home runs, doubles, and walks are up, but only since 2019 or even younger. The number of bases stolen has increased to levels not seen since the 1990s, presumably due to fewer pickup attempts and slightly larger bases.
While the new rules didn’t trigger an avalanche of violations, a combination of factors did do it for a day.
Tuesday’s games will feature a dozen teams scoring at least 10 runs