Monday night’s five-home-run outburst temporarily silenced concerns about the Orioles’ offense, and gave the team 168 home runs on the season, 18 more than the next-closest team in the majors.
But if the Orioles are to bring the first World Series title to Baltimore since 1983, they will have to buck a recent trend of the best slugging-teams in the league not making the World Series.
The Orioles are searching to become the first team since the 2009 New York Yankees to lead the league in home runs and go on to win the World Series, showing that teams with multiple ways to push runs across ultimately have a better chance to advance in the playoffs.
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It’s their home run totals that draw attention, but the total runs scored by the Orioles (553, 11th in the majors) might be more indicative of potential success in the postseason. Only the 2010 San Francisco Giants were lower than 11th in the league in runs scored and won the World Series in the last five years.
Last year’s home run leaders were the Orioles, whose 212 home runs were 24 more than second-place Seattle. But we don’t need to be reminded that they didn’t make the playoffs. The two World Series teams, Boston and St. Louis, were sixth and 27th, respectively.
Those two teams were also in the top three in the league in runs scored, despite not posting gaudy home run totals. Boston led the league with 853 runs, while the Cardinals were third with 783. The Orioles ranked fifth last year with 745 runs, the most of any non-playoff team.
In 2012, the New York Yankees led the league with 245 home runs, with the Orioles coming in second. That year, the San Francisco Giants hit a league-worst 103 home runs and won the World Series over Detroit, who came in 16th with 163. Those two teams ranked 11th and 12th, respectively, in runs scored.
The last team of sluggers to make the World Series were the 2011 Texas Rangers, who were second in the league with 210 home runs behind the Yankees (222), but lost in seven games to the Cardinals, who were 13th in home runs. Both teams, however, were in the top five in runs scored.
In 2010, the Giants (10th in home runs, 17th in runs) topped the Rangers, who tied them for 10th in home runs but were fifth in runs.
The 2009 World Series is more the Orioles’ speed than any of the others. Both the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies had strong pitching staffs, but were the top two home run hitting teams in the league, and were both in the top four in runs.
There are plenty of other things that go into building a champion, but being able to hit five home runs in a night isn’t something you can count on. It just really helps knowing that you have that in your arsenal.