The Astros have been on a ridiculous scoring run over the past month and a half, particularly with their past couple of games—21 runs on Sunday, then another 15 on Monday. Averaging 18 runs a game isn’t sustainable, obviously, but these two aren’t outliers: The Astros scored 11 runs in a game against the Mariners last week, and in August they had games where they scored 15 against the Rays, 11 against the Angels, 14 against the Rockies, a ridiculous (and team record) 23 against the Orioles. All told, the Astros have averaged nearly 8 runs a game since the end of July.
That’s incredible, and it gives them a whopping 829 runs on the season with 17 games left to play. Which means that—while it’s unlikely—the Astros are on the cusp of being able to enter the record books with one of Major League Baseball’s toughest stats: becoming only the third team since before the start of World War II to score 1,000 runs in a season.
To do it, the Astros would have to average nearly 11 runs per game for the next three weeks. For most teams, that’s impossible. But a team that’s scored 20+ runs twice in the past month has the potential to do the impossible—and over the past five games, the ‘Stros have, in fact, more than pulled off that average. Sure, it’s an outside shot, but would you bet against a team that’s scoring the way the Astros are right now?
The team is in joint possession of the best record in baseball, with a .655 win percentage. They’re the bookies’ favorite to win the World Series, their final scores look like football scores, and they already brought Houston a championship just two years ago. When it comes to quantifying how good these Astros are, it’s fair to want to keep an eye out for the record books—and hitting 1,000 runs in a season is one of the toughest.
The last time a team did that was 1999, when Cleveland scored 1009 runs in the midst of the steroids era. (That season, five teams had more than 900 runs; no team has broken 900 since 2009.) That Cleveland team was more consistent than the 2019 Astros—they only scored 20 runs once that season—but didn’t match them in terms of win percentage. The only other team in the post-war era to do it was the Red Sox in 1950—and the rest of the teams on the list of 1,000-run seasons tend to have names like “Boston Beaneaters,” “Chicago Colts,” and “Brooklyn Grooms.” (Plus the Yankees, always the Yankees.)
But if anyone can do it, it’ll be the 2019 Astros. They don’t lead the league in runs—the Yankees and the Twins each have a slight edge there—but neither team’s bats are as hot as theirs right now, and the Astros aren’t accumulating runs in as spectacular a fashion in the stretch before the playoffs.
Most likely, the Astros will end up somewhere in the 900-run range, which they’ll do even if their scoring average drops almost three runs per game. Doing that could make the 2019 Astros the highest-scoring team of the decade, which wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. But we’re going to hold out hope. The Astros are poised to make a World Series run this year, and it sure would be fun to do that while making history, too.