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New York Yankees Scored the Most Runs in a Season, but Were Losers in 1931

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 12, 2010

The 1931 New York Yankees scored 1,067 runs, which is the most runs ever scored by a major league team in a season.

They led the league in batting average (.297), home runs (155), on base average (.380), slugging average (.457), and stolen bases (138).

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig tied for the home run championship with 46 each. Gehrig set the all-time American League record RBI record with 184.

There was only one problem. The Philadelphia A's won the pennant by 13 and one-half games over the 94-59 Yankees.



The Yankees Won 14 Games by at Least 10 Runs

The Yankees had a run differential of 1,067 runs scored to 760 runs allowed, for a Pythagorean W-L of 100-53.

The 107-45 Athletics scored 858 runs and allowed 626 runs for a Pythagorean W-L of 97-55.

The Yankees won 14 games by at least 10 runs, including beating the Detroit Tigers 20-8, the Cleveland Indians 19-2 and 18-1, the Chicago White Sox 22-5, and the St. Louis Browns 17-0.

Statistics must be viewed in the proper context.



The Yankees Scored 209 Runs More Than the Athletics Scored

The Athletics' offense was solid, but was clearly not as good as that of the Yankees. Philadelphia had Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, and Al Simmons, all Hall of Famers, but they scored 209 fewer runs than the Yankees.

Great offense is not as important as great pitching.

The A's Great Pitching

Lefty Grove, probably the greatest of all left-handers, won 31 games with a 2.06 ERA. The league ERA was 4.51.

Right-hander George Earnshaw won 21 games, while lefty Rube Walberg won 20.

Philadelphia's team ERA was 3.47.

Lefty Gomez's 21 wins and 2.67 ERA led the Yankees' pitching, but he was the only Yankees pitcher who had a solid season. Hall of Famers Red Ruffing and Herb Pennock had below par seasons. No one picked up the slack.

Philadelphia and the Washington Nationals were the only teams with ERAs less than 4.00. Philadelphia was the only team whose pitchers allowed fewer hits than innings pitched.  They walked only three hitter a game.

The Yankees' team ERA was 4.20. They allowed more hits than innings pitched and yielded an average of 3.5 walks a game.

The first time a team scored at least 1,000 runs in a season was in 1930, when the Yankees scored 1,062 runs and the St. Louis Cardinals scored 1,004 runs.

The Yankees finished third, 16 games behind the A's, and the Cardinals lost the World Series to the A's.

The 1950 Red Sox scored 1,027 runs and finished third, while the 1999 Indians scored 1,009 and finished first in the Central Division.  The 1999 Yankees won the pennant.



The 1932 and the 1936 Yankees Won the World Series

In 1932 the Yankees scored 1,002 runs and swept the Cubs in the Series, but that Yankees team led the league with a 3.98 ERA and allowed the fewest hits of any pitching staff.

The 1936 Yankees scored 1,065 runs and beat New York in a six game World Series. They had a 4.17 ERA, which led the league. And which was almost one run lower than the league ERA.

Once again, it is illustrated that pitching, not hitting, wins championships.



References:

Retrosheet

Baseball Reference

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