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A pair of goals for the Dodgers offense

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LA trying to lead the NL in scoring for a fourth year in a row

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers lead the National League in runs scored this season, which is the norm for them of late but also a historical anomaly since the franchise moved into Dodger Stadium.

With 11 games left in the season, the Dodgers (762) have a 20-run lead over the Giants (742) for most runs scored in the National League. If San Francisco outscores the Dodgers by 20 runs over the next week and a half, they will probably cruise to the division title. But that’s a pretty big lead right now that, if the Dodgers can hold it, would join a very exclusive club in major league history.

Dodger Stadium has been open for 60 seasons. In the first 56 such seasons, the Dodgers led the NL in scoring only twice — in 1974 and 1978, both years ending with a pennant. Historically, Chavez Ravine has been unkind to offenses. Baseball Reference park factors have Dodger Stadium as pitcher-friendly 58 times in 60 years, topping out with a 101 batting park factor in both 2006 and 2007.

It’s not as extreme as it once was in Los Angeles. The park factor for the first 10 years of Dodger Stadium had the park factor between 91-94, an extreme pitcher haven. This year, the batting park factor is 99, same as 2020. That’s only slightly below average in terms of offensive friendliness. But even in an almost-neutral offensive environment, what the Dodgers offense has done of late is remarkable.

The Dodgers led the National League runs scored in 2017, 2018, and 2019 as well. They also led the NL in fewest runs allowed every year since 2016, and this year lead again, with a 48-run advantage over the Giants. To date, only one team in MLB history has lead its league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed for four straight seasons — the Yankees from 1936-39, per Stats by STATS.

LA’s pitching has been incredible this season, and we’ll dive in deeper to that side of things soon. But for now, let’s talk about the offense.

Dodgers scoring has been down in the nominal second half, scoring 4.77 runs per game after the All-Star break after 5.23 runs before it. That includes 4.78 runs per game in August, and 4.78 runs per game in September.

Since the break the Dodgers got Corey Seager back from the injured list and traded for Trea Turner, who have both produced quite nicely. But they’ve been offset by Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock missing time to injuries, and slumps since the break from Max Muncy (.230/.313/.510) and Chris Taylor (.228/.284/.442), plus Cody Bellinger cratering (.148/.199/.284) before getting hurt himself.

Getting to five runs scored seems to be key. Since the break the Dodgers have done so 32 times, 53.3 percent of their games. Before the break they scored five or more runs 41 runs in 91 games (51.6 percent).

The Dodgers’ 79 games with five or more runs scored is fourth in the majors, bunched together with the Giants (83 games), Rays (82), and Astros (81), teams with the best, third-best, and fifth-best records in baseball this season. The Dodgers are 68-11 (.861) in such games, and have won their last 25 times when scoring at least five. Their last such loss came on July 30.

San Francisco is 69-14 (.831) when scoring five runs, and that one extra run accounts for the difference between the two teams at the moment.

The Dodgers scored exactly five runs in Tuesday’s win over the Rockies in Denver, though it took them 10 innings to do so. LA has scored at least five runs in eight of their last nine games. It’s a start, considering the Dodgers scored five runs eight times in the previous 24 games.