Saw this tweet ...
Not that anyone should expect this to keep up, but the Dodger hitters are outdoing '27 Yankees and everyone else ever http://t.co/Bdjxwba63K— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) May 16, 2015
Wow. I had no idea. That link goes to a list of the best teams in history in a stat called wRC+, which stands for weighted Runs Created. It's park- and league-adjusted, so it's a better barometer for determining the best offensive teams of all time than just looking at runs scored totals, which will obviously be skewed toward teams from the high-scoring 1930s and late 1990s. Also, this particular list has removed pitchers' hitting from the equation.
Let's take a quick look at the other top five teams after the Dodgers.
wRC+: 135 (.307/.384/.488)
Runs per game: 6.30
League average: 4.92
Ruth hit .356 with a record 60 home runs, and Gehrig, in his breakout season, hit .373 with 47 home runs and 175 RBIs. Leadoff hitter Earle Combs hit .356 with a .414 OBP and Tony Lazzeri and Bob Meusel also drove in more than 100 runs apiece. But this team was mostly about the dominance of Ruth and Gehrig as Ruth outhomered every other American League team by himself and the Yankees hit 102 more home runs than the No. 2 team.
wRC+: 133 (.297/.383/.457)
Runs per game: 6.88
League average: 5.14
These Yankees scored 1,067 runs, the most ever. Ruth, at age 36, hit .373/.495/.700 and tied Gehrig for the home run lead at 46. Gehrig hit .341 and knocked in 185 runs. Outfielder Ben Chapman provided a third power source, with 17 home runs and 102 RBIs, Combs hit .318 and third baseman Joe Sewell hit .302 with 62 walks -- while striking out just eight times. Even though they had three Hall of Famers in the rotation, the Yankees finished in second place to the Philadelphia A's, who 107 games, 31 of them by Lefty Grove.
wRC+: 132 (.309/.384/.488)
Runs per game: 6.90
League average: 5.41
More Ruth, more Gehrig, more Combs and Lazzeri. But the Yankees actually finished in third place behind the A's, who also scored more than six runs per game, and Senators, who hit over .300.
wRC+: 130 (.280/.357/.424)
Runs per game: 5.29
League average: 3.98
In a low-scoring environment, the Reds had maybe the most well-balanced offense of all time. Besides leading the league in runs and all the triple-slash categories, they also led in doubles, triples, stolen bases and walks (and, interestingly enough, strikeouts). Joe Morgan led the league in OPS -- 100 points higher than Mike Schmidt -- while George Foster, Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Sr. ranked fourth, fifth and seventh. All eight regulars were better than league-average hitters, although Johnny Bench actually had a bad year for him, hitting just .234 with 16 home runs.
wRC+: 128 (.286/.376/.454)
Runs per game: 6.42
League average: 5.23
Are you getting the idea that Ruth and Gehrig were pretty dominant? As impressive as this offense was, the Yankees scored just 21 more runs than the A's, although this time the Yankees did win the pennant.
(FYI, if you include pitchers, the Dodgers still rank No. 1 followed by the 1927 Yankees, 1930 Yankees, 1931 Yankees, 1976 Reds and 1982 Brewers.)
And now the 2015 Dodgers:
wRC+: 141 (.282/.365/.508)
Runs per game: 5.26
League average: 4.13
The Dodgers are playing in a relatively low-scoring era and in a pitcher's park, so that helps pump up their wRC+. Everybody was concerned about the offense after they traded Kemp and lost Ramirez to free agency, but the Dodgers have impressive depth in an era when most teams are struggling to put out four or five decent hitters, let alone seven or eight. They've even managed to do this despite a hamstring injury to Yasiel Puig -- the team's projected best offensive player -- that has limited him to 11 games.
The big surprises have been rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, hitting .243/.401/.559, after a preseason ZiPS projection of .239/.327/.420, and veteran Andre Ethier, who has received playing time with Puig out and is hitting .330/.431/.582 versus a projection of .259/.335/.392. Of course, Adrian Gonzalez has been hot with a .689 slugging percentage that is second in the NL to Bryce Harper's .690, and Alex Guerrero is slugging .786 in limited playing time.
Is the offense overperforming? Sure, we can expect some regression to happen -- although there is plenty of bad pitching on the Rockies and Diamondbacks to tee off against the rest of the season. Pederson has continue to hit home runs but his average has dropped from .300 on May 1. Gonzalez hasn't had a .500 slugging percentage since 2011, let alone one approaching .700. Yasmani Grandal has an OBP over .400 and that will likely decline.
Still, it's fun to watch. Manager Don Mattingly already is having trouble getting all the hot bats into the lineup, especially the revolving door at third base with Juan Uribe, Justin Turner and Guerrero. Once Puig returns, what happens with Ethier? And Scott Van Slyke has replaced the injured Carl Crawford in left field with better results. Then there's Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old third baseman/second baseman who signed a $62.5 million contract and just got cleared for his visa, and shortstop prospect Corey Seager, now in Triple-A after hitting .375 in Double-A to start the season.
Anyway, it certainly explains why the Dodgers are 23-12 even though Clayton Kershaw has just two wins, Hyun-Jin Ryu has yet to pitch and Brandon McCarthy made just four starts before being lost for the season. There are different ways to win games. This is just a new way for a franchise historically built on great pitching.