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The Dodgers scoring 900 runs is not normal

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It’s a weird twist that the first time in six years the Dodgers won’t lead the National League in runs scored, they have scored more often that any other team in franchise history over the last 70 years. But that also helps provide proper context to just how incredible this era of Dodgers offense is.

When J.D. Martinez homered on Friday, his three-run shot gave the Dodgers exactly 900 runs on the season. It’s only the sixth time in team history they’ve scored that many runs in one season, and the first since 1953 when they played in Brooklyn.

Martinez is one of four Dodgers to drive in at least 100 runs this season, along with Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and Freddie Freeman, the first quartet of triple-digit RBI players in team history.

Freeman, who also homered and doubled on Friday — the latter his 59th — has scored 131 runs this season, the most in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Betts isn’t too far behind with 126 runs scored.

It’s a prolific year.

This season, the Dodgers will end up with the second-highest-scoring offense in the majors, currently 33 runs behind the juggernaut Braves with two games left to play. Finishing second in the National League, let alone the majors, is a noteworthy achievement. In the first 60 years since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, they led the NL in runs scored only twice (1974, 1978), and finished second four times (1961, 1962, 1979, 2014).

But this is the golden era of Dodgers offense, as the team led the National League in scoring in each of the previous five seasons.

Highest-scoring Dodgers teams

Year Runs wRC+
Year Runs wRC+
1894 1,024 107
1889 995 106
1953 955 126
1892 935 120
1887 904 94
2023 900 117
1899 892 111
2019 886 116
1890 884 112
1949 879 115
1895 879 94
1930 871 106
1955 857 116
1951 855 118
Most runs scored in a season Sources: Baseball Reference & FanGraphs

For the bulk of the team’s history out west, the environment simply hasn’t been conducive to scoring this many runs, either with the style of baseball as a whole and/or that Dodger Stadium was for a long time one of the pitching-friendliest ballparks going.

The Dodgers this season have a 117 wRC+, meaning as a team they are 17 percent above average in overall offensive production. That’s the third-best wRC+ in franchise history, behind only 2020 (120) and 2022 (122), but those are the only three seasons the National League used the designated hitter for the entire year.

If we eliminate pitchers batting from the equation, the 1978 Dodgers are similar to 2023, in that the 1978 team’s non-pitchers had a 118 wRC+. The pennant-winners led the National League with 707 runs scored, but that’s nowhere near 900.

The National League in 1978 averaged 3.99 runs per team game, compared to 4.68 this year. Dodger Stadium was slightly more of a pitcher’s park in 1978, with a 99 multi-year park factor (100 is average), compared to 101 this season. That at least helps to explain the bulk of the difference in total runs scored.

The highest-scoring Dodgers team ever was in 1894, when the National League might as well have been playing a different sport. Brooklyn that year scored 1,024 runs in a 132-game schedule, but that only ranked fifth in a 12-team league. The NL that year averaged 7.39 runs per team game, which is unrecognizable by today’s standards.

Brooklyn’s 1953 team remains the gold standard when it comes to modern Dodgers offenses, scoring 955 runs in a 154-game schedule, the equivalent of 1,004 runs over 162 games. That team had a 126 wRC+, with the 2020, 2022 and 1892 squads tied for second in franchise history with a 120 wRC+. This year’s Dodgers team at 117 wRC+ is tied for ninth-best in franchise history with the 2014 team, that finished second in the NL with 718 runs in a league that averaged only 3.95 runs per game.

If we limit this to just baseball’s modern era (1900-present), the last six seasons have produced five of the top 10 wRC+ teams in Dodgers history. There has never been a better time to watch the Dodgers while batting.