Cubs, Indians have been well below their scoring norms

SHARE Cubs, Indians have been well below their scoring norms
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Anthony Rizzo scores past Roberto Perez in the fourth inning of Game 5. The Cubs have scored only 10 runs in the first five games of the Series. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Through National League Division Series and NL Championship Series play, the Cubs were the highest-scoring team in the 2016 postseason.

Despite two shutout losses to the Dodgers, the Cubs had scored 48 runs in 10 games, 12 more than the Dodgers had scored in 11 games. At 4.8 runs per game — about the same level as their 4.99 average in the regular season — the Cubs were tied with the Nationals, who scored 24 in a five-game NLDS loss to the Dodgers.

Those high-scoring ways have come to an abrupt halt in the World Series. Entering Game 6 on Tuesday, the Cubs have scored only 10 runs. That their season remains alive is partly because the Indians have had their own struggles at the plate, averaging 3.4 runs after averaging 4.83 in the regular season.

The Cubs and Indians have combined to score 5.4 runs per game through five games after combining to score 9.82 in the regular season. If that holds up, it would be the largest offensive shortfall of the LDS era, when the 1995 addition of an extra round of playoffs pushed the Series into late October and sometimes early November.

You can’t draw firm conclusions from a five-game sample, but Series games overall tend to be lower-scoring than regular-season games. The explanations usually offered are that good pitching is part and parcel of Series-level teams and that scheduled days off lead teams to shorten rotations. Hitters never face bottom-of-the-rotation pitchers. Bullpen usage changes, with top relievers entering more often in high-leverage situations.

Another factor is the late-October/early-November weather, which can get downright nasty in cities such as Chicago and Cleveland.

This is the 22nd World Series of the LDS era. In the previous 21, 13 teams have exceeded their regular-season scoring averages and 29 have fallen short. The teams have combined for fewer runs than their regular-season average in 17 Series and have exceeded their average in only four.

Sometimes the difference is quite small, as it was when the Giants and Royals combined to score 8.17 runs per game in the 2014 Series, compared with their 8.12 combined average in the regular season.

Other times, the difference has been much larger. In 2003, the Yankees and Marlins combined to average only 6.33 runs in the Series after averaging 10.02 in the regular season.

On average, the shortfalls have been larger that the excesses. In the 17 lower-scoring Series, teams combined to average 2.25 fewer runs per game than they did in the regular season; the four higher-scoring Series have brought combined averages of 1.05 runs more than in the regular season.

There have been seven seasons in the LDS era in which Series teams combined to average three or more runs fewer than in the regular season and another three with combined shortfalls of at least two runs. There has been only one season with a combined gain of two or more runs — 2002, when the Angels and Giants averaged 12.15 runs in the Series after averaging 10.09 in the regular season.

The Cubs-Indians Series is extreme, but it fits the broader pattern: Each run tends to be more precious when you get to the Series.

Follow me on Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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