As of today, the Houston Astros don’t have the best record in baseball. Their .639 winning percentage (69-39), while ridiculously impressive, is actually somewhat dwarfed by the Dodgers’ truly unbelievable .704 pace (they have 76 wins … and it’s the beginning of August).
However, the Astros do have something on the Dodgers (and every other team in baseball, for that matter) and it’s a big one: their offense.
Indeed, the Houston Astros’ are hitting a combined .290/.353/.499 this season, which is good for a league-best 128 wRC+. But that mark isn’t just the best in baseball. It’s a full 17 points (which means it’s 17 percentage points) better than the second place Dodgers, and 21 points better than the team in third.
And when I noticed just how much better it was than every other team this season, it got me thinking: where do they stack up in MLB history?
Well, I did the search and, if you can believe it, the Astros’ current, combined offensive production would be THE SINGLE BEST in MLB history, if the season ended today*:
The Astros' are slashing .290/.353/.499 (128 wRC+). If season ended today, that would be best in MLB history (nudging out the 1927 Yankees)! pic.twitter.com/kI05bJxssR
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 4, 2017
The 1927 Yankees (featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig) finished their season with a 126 wRC+. Which means that while the Astros have about two more months of games to play, they have a fair bit of wiggle room to work with. And, in any case, they will almost certainly finish among the top five of all time.
Speaking of which:
- 1927 Yankees: 126 wRC+
- 1930 Yankees: 124 wRC+
- 1931 Yankees: 124 wRC+
- 1976 Reds: 120 wRC+
- 1982 Brewers: 120 wRC+
And in case you’re wondering, the wRC+ stat is normalized for various run scoring environments, which means it’s fair to compare the statistics across multiple eras.
Another random tidbit I found along the way: the Astros’ 175 homers are already more than each of the five teams listed above, despite having some 2,000 fewer at-bats. Of course, all of those teams were playing with the pitchers still batting and without the current juiced ball era, but still. That’s damn impressive.
Now, there’s still a long way to go, of course, but the Astros’ don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. And with the expected drop off in opposition (September roster expansions tend to bring about a lot of young, inexperienced pitchers), they may even get better.
* This potential first-place ranking excludes the 1875 Red Stockings (136 wRC+), 1876 White Stockings (135 wRC+), and 1884 Maroons (132 wRC+), because the game was virtually unrecognizable at that time, and advanced stats like wRC+ from that era don’t necessarily tell us much.