Regardless of whether the Dodgers or Red Sox win the World Series, which opens Tuesday in Boston, the new champion will be a team that led its league in runs scored.
For the first time since the Yankees topped the Phillies in 2009, both league runs leaders are in the Series. The Dodgers led the National League with 4.93 runs per game, and the Red Sox led the American League with 5.41.
Neither was a slouch at run prevention, either. The Dodgers ranked first in the NL by limiting opponents to 3.74 runs per game; the Red Sox were third in the AL at 3.99.
In recent years, runs leaders have had more Series success than run-prevention leaders. Since 2008, four teams that led their league in runs have won the Series and two others reached the Series but lost.
Only two run-prevention leaders reached the Series during that stretch, and the lone champion was the 2016 Cubs, who led the NL by allowing 3.43 runs per game.
Park effects add a little intrigue to the by-the-numbers matchup. Fenway Park in Boston remains one of the better hitters’ parks in baseball, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles long has been a haven for pitchers.
This season, the Red Sox and their opponents combined to score 1.08 times as many runs in Fenway as in Red Sox road games. That makes Fenway the ninth-best hitters’ park in the majors. The Rangers’ Globe Life Field (1.35 times as many runs as in road games) and the Rockies’ Coors Field (1.27) topped the list.
The Dodgers are in an opposite home-park situation. They and their opponents scored only .87 times as many runs in Dodgers home games as in road games, making Dodger Stadium the fifth-best park for pitchers.
The park effects make the Dodgers’ scoring ability even more impressive, leading the NL while playing in a park that depresses scoring. With 438 runs in road games, the Dodgers scored 72 more runs away from home than in Dodger Stadium. They averaged 4.52 runs at home and a whopping 5.41 away.
In a similar vein, the Red Sox’ ability to prevent runs while playing half their games in a hitters’ park looks even better than their third-place AL ranking for fewest runs allowed. They allowed 322 runs at home and 325 on the road. By ERA+, which adjusts for park effects and normalizes so that 100 is average, the Red Sox’ 117 tied the Diamondbacks for third in majors, trailing the Astros (130) and Cubs (118) but outranking the Dodgers (115).
When the Red Sox last won the Series in 2013, they led their league in runs and were sixth in fewest runs allowed. The Dodgers’ Series runners-up last season led the NL in fewest runs allowed but were sixth in runs.
The opponents are better balanced this season, with both capable of shutting down offenses and both ready to add to the recent Series success of scoring leaders.