Coming into today’s travel day north to the Bay to face rival San Francisco, the Los Angeles Dodgers are riding a seven-game winning streak. Pitching was an obvious strength coming into this season and, even with a semi-human Clayton Kershaw, they have been as advertised. It doesn’t seem that their offense was ever in question, but yesterday’s 14-hit barrage ensured the winning streak remained intact.
LA’s dismantling of Colorado Rockies’ pitching – poor Scott Oberg in particular – wasn’t just your average hit parade, it was a fulminant slugging clinic. Dodger hitters accrued seven doubles and three home runs, complemented by four little singles. That means they slugged .857 for the game! Essentially, Sunday’s demolition of Colorado’s team ERA was a microcosmic slice of Barry Bonds‘s 2001 season. Bonds slugged .863 that year, the best ever for a single season power metric, but I’m sure my friends who bleed Dodger Blue would like me to shut my mouth about anything Giants related. Justin Turner had three of those doubles, Joc Pederson had a homer to go with his double, and Scott Van Slyke was the most Bondsian with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs. Interestingly enough, the only Dodger regular who didn’t get in on the beating was hot-hitting Adrian Gonzalez.
Back to Scott Oberg. Man, if he didn’t pitch for Colorado, I’d have probably felt even worse for him. Oberg started the sixth inning, taking over for Eddie Butler. Butler actually had a decent day, going five innings and only allowing this fearsome Dodger offense two runs. When Oberg came into this game, he had already made two appearances and had a tidy 0.00 ERA. Officially pitching one-third of an inning, Oberg would leave Sunday’s game with a titanic 10.13 ERA (I know I know, we’re only 12 games in!). Six pitches into his third appearance of the year, Oberg served up Howie Kendrick‘s second home run of 2015. The first salvo landed 414 feet away in right-center. The wheels would fall off quickly; even Justin Morneau gifted the Dodgers with an extra out via his gaff in foul territory off Van Slyke’s bat. Simply put, it just turned into baseball’s version of the Monster Mash in a hurry.
In the top of the eighth inning, the sweet song of Vin Scully’s voice informed us that the Dodgers, through their first 12 games, had 35 doubles and 17 home runs. That’s not counting at bats by Dodger hurlers. Guess what? Clayton Kershaw has a double on the season, as well! Anyways, it got me to thinking, “What is the single season record for doubles by a team?”
Thanks to one of my many tools of reference, baseball-almanac.com had a quick answer for me. In the National League, the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals hit 373 two-baggers. Over in the Junior Circuit, the 2008 Texas Rangers just barely eclipsed that mark with 376. I quickly did the math to project 473 doubles (!!!), if the Dodgers maintain this pace. That would blow either league record out of the water.
Let’s just focus on the NL record for now. To break the 1930 Cardinals’ mark, the Dodgers would have to hit 339 more doubles this season. With 150 games remaining for the boys in blue, that works out a requirement of 2.253 doubles a game. That is .663 lower than their current pace. Adjusting for the 154-game schedule the Cardinals played 85 years ago, they hit 2.42 doubles/game for the season. If the Dodgers could maintain a pace one hundredth of a double/game better than those Cardinals for the remaining 150 games, they would slide safely into the end of September with 400 team doubles. Again, plenty to break the record. However, as I don’t hang out with Nate Silver for morning coffee, I can’t say that I can definitively predict any of this will happen. I haven’t factored in for injuries, the pitchers they’ll face and the different park effects. That’s partly due to making the ghastly choice to pursue a Liberal Arts degree in lieu of an Advanced Math degree. It’s a fun thought exercise, though, and the Dodgers – who played without Yasiel Puig yesterday – look to have a potent enough lineup to make a serious run at the record.
Hey, at least we have nearly six more months to find out, huh?!?