Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leading MLB in Runs without 30 Homers, 100 RBI or 100 Runs

UPDATE: David Ortiz got a little hot at the end of the year to finish with 30 homers and 103 RBI, so they ended up not duplicating the feat by the '68 Reds. I added the Red Sox to the chart at the bottom, as they still lacked a player with 100 runs scored.

The Red Sox are on their way to the American League East title and with 759 runs scored are also on their way to the major league scoring crown.

Boston is leading the majors in runs in an unusual way. David Ortiz is "only" on pace for 28 home runs and 99 runs batted in, which brought an interesting question from @matthewfjensen:  

Jacoby Ellsbury leads the Sox with 89 runs, but he's out indefinitely with a fracture in his right foot. At 79 runs, Dustin Pedroia might catch Ellsbury for the team lead, but he won't get to the century mark. Ortiz could certainly get hot in the team's final 16 games, but with Boston's magic number down to 10, he'll likely get less playing time down the stretch as the team rests up for a postseason run.

On the way to finding this team, I also wanted to find teams that paced the majors without having a player reach any one of the benchmarks, not just all three.

Each of the last 14 top-scoring teams had at least one player reach 30 homers, 100 runs or 100 RBI. The last leader without a 30-homer man was one of the great powerhouses in history. The 1998 Yankees scored 965 runs en route to a 114-48 regular season record. They did this despite the fact the Tino Martinez led the squad with only 28 home runs.

The last high-scorer that didn't have anyone score 100 runs was the 1990 Mets. Gregg Jefferies came home 96 times to lead the team while Darryl Strawberry got New York over the other two barriers with 37 homers and 108 runs batted in.

The 1984 Tigers were one of the most dominant teams of the last 30 years, but they are the last runs leader that failed to have a player reach two of the benchmarks. Kirk Gibson scored 92 runs and Lance Parrish drove in 98, but Parrish knocked 33 dingers to keep them above water here.

Fittingly, to find the only live-ball era top-scoring team without a 30-homer, 100-RBI or 100-run hitter you have to go all the way back to The Year of the Pitcher, 1968.

The Cincinnati Reds scored 690 runs to lead the major leagues. Even in today's age of relatively-suppressed offense, 13 teams are on pace to score 690 runs or more. In 2000, all 30 teams scored at least 708 runs.

Still a couple of years away from becoming The Big Red Machine, Cincy led the bigs in tallies with Pete Rose scoring 94 runs, Tony Perez sending home 92, and with Lee May hitting only 22 homers.

Here are the live-ball era teams that led the majors in runs scored despite having no player reach 30 homers, 100 RBI and/or 100 runs:

MLB Leader
2013 Red Sox
No 30 HR

No 100 RBI

No 100 R
Jacoby Ellsbury (92)
1998 Yankees Tino Martinez (28)
1991 Rangers Juan Gonzalez (27)
1990 Mets Gregg Jefferies (96)
1988 Red Sox Mike Greenwell (22)
1984 Tigers Lance Parrish (98) Kirk Gibson (92)
1983 White Sox Rudy Law (95)
1980 Tigers Lance Parrish (24)
1978 Brewers Larry Hisle (96)
1977 Twins Larry Hisle (28)
1976 Reds George Foster (29)
1975 Reds Johnny Bench (28)
1972 Astros Lee May (29) Lee May (98)
1968 Reds Lee May (22) Tony Perez (92) Pete Rose (94)
1964 Braves Hank Aaron (24)
1963 Twins Harmon Killebrew (96) Bob Allison (99)
1958 Yankees Mickey Mantle (97)
1954 Yankees Mickey Mantle (27)
1948 Red Sox Vern Stephens (29)
1945 Dodgers Goody Rosen (12)
1944 Cardinals Whitey Kurowski (20)
1943 Dodgers Augie Galan (9)
1942 Yankees Charlie Keller (26)
1934 Tigers Hank Greenberg (26)
1925 Pirates Glenn Wright & Kiki Cuyler (18)
1924 Giants High Pockets Kelly (21)
1923 Indians Tris Speaker (17)
1920 Indians Elmer Smith (12)

Most of the 27 teams listed make the list for lack of a 30-homer man, especially all of those prior to 1958. The '84 Tigers, '72 Astros, '68 Reds and '63 Twins are the four teams that come empty in two of the categories. Even if Ortiz manages to get to 30 homers or 100 RBI, the Sox will be the first team in 23 years to lead the majors without a triple-digit run scorer.

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