Red Sox's offense on pace to be one of the best of all time

After the Boston Red Sox scored 40 runs in a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, Michael Silverman wrote this in the Boston Herald:

    But I am buying into the notion that this 2016 Red Sox offense has the chance to remain high-octane. And by high-octane, I mean a run-scoring machine that has a shot at being one of the best offenses in team history. ...

    With 196 runs through 34 games, the Red Sox are scoring an average of 5.76 runs a game, which projects to 934 for the season.

    At that rate, the team record of 1,027 runs -- set by the 1950 ballclub in only 154 games! -- still looks safe. In fact, that run total looks impossibly huge. I understand Ted Williams was on the team, and that he was one of four players to hit at least 27 home runs that season and one of five to score at least 100 runs but just, wow.

    Things could get interesting with the next-best run-scoring Red Sox teams.

    The 2003 Red Sox are second on the franchise list. They scored 961 runs, and we all remember what a stacked lineup that was. With Johnny Damon atop the order, Bill Mueller winning a batting title while hitting in the lower half, and six players hitting 25 or more home runs, that pre-PED-testing era team poses a stiff challenge.

Then the Red Sox went out and clobbered Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in an 11-1 victory on Thursday, becoming the first team since the 2007 Braves to score 11-plus runs four games in a row, and just the fourth in the expansion era (since 1961). In this four-game outburst, the Red Sox have hit .397, slugged .699 and ripped out 17 doubles and 10 home runs. For the season, they're hitting .295, 17 points higher than the Pirates' second-best .278 mark.

Before I saw Silverman's story, I hadn't realized the Red Sox were tearing it up at this level. They're now averaging 5.91 runs per game. But here's the interesting thing not mentioned in that story: They're doing it in a league with a much lower run-scoring environment than those other Red Sox teams. Here are the Red Sox teams to score 900 runs in a season, with the corresponding American League average runs per game for that season:

The final column is weighted Runs Created from FanGraphs, which considers a team's offensive statistics, ballpark factors and the league run-scoring environment, and then scales it so 100 is a league-average offense. While the 2016 Red Sox don't come close to Ted Williams and the 1950 team in runs per game, they do surpass that older outfit in run differential compared to the league average and hold an even bigger edge in wRC+ (and that was before Thursday's game, so it inched up even higher). Fenway Park in the Williams era was a terrific hitter's haven and the Red Sox loved hitting there. The 1950 club hit .335 at home and just .269 on the road, averaging 8.10 runs per game at Fenway and 5.22 on the road. Ballpark effects can be a tricky thing, but that team obviously benefited a great deal from Fenway.

The 2016 team is also hitting better at Fenway -- all four of these games were at home -- but not to the same extent, hitting .307 at home, .281 on the road, while averaging 6.79 runs at home versus 4.88 on the road.

Still, factoring in all those things, the 2016 Red Sox are the best offense in team history, at least through 35 games.

How does it potentially rank among the all-time best offenses? Using wRC+ from FanGraphs, it ranks ... first.

1. 2016 Red Sox: 127 (through Wednesday)

2. 1927 Yankees: 126

3. 1930 Yankees: 124

3. 1931 Yankees: 124

5. 1976 Reds: 120

5. 2016 Orioles: 120

5. 1982 Brewers: 120

5. 2003 Red Sox: 120

5. 1909 Pirates: 120

10. 2007 Yankees: 119

10. 1932 Yankees: 119

Note the presence of this year's Orioles on the list. They're averaging only 4.70 runs per game, however. That's the problem with using wRC+: It's based on the raw offensive totals, not runs scored. Let's take the list of teams above and see how much they exceeded the league average in runs for that season:

1. 2016 Red Sox: plus-1.74

2. 1927 Yankees: plus-1.38

3. 1930 Yankees: plus-1.49

3. 1931 Yankees: plus-1.74

5. 1976 Reds: plus-1.31

5. 2016 Orioles: plus-0.53

5. 1982 Brewers: plus-0.99

5. 2003 Red Sox: plus-1.07

5. 1909 Pirates: plus-.0.90

10. 2007 Yankees: plus-1.08

10. 1932 Yankees: plus-1.19

The Red Sox look good here as well. So we've sliced and diced, and the Red Sox keep coming up as an all-time great offense if they keep up this pace.

We have to mention one more thing. The Chicago Cubs are averaging 5.94 runs per game; that's right, they're outscoring the Red Sox. Now, they're doing it in a league with a higher run environment (4.42 runs per game) and the Red Sox have a better triple-slash line at .295/.355/.485 versus the Cubs' .263/.368/.432 mark. Still, the Cubs don't have the designated hitter, so their run total is impressive as well.

At a quick glance, I'm not sure how the Cubs are outscoring the Red Sox, as Boston is hitting better with runners in scoring position. Some of that is baserunning, where the Cubs rank as the best team in the majors (but the Red Sox are rated above average). I guess they've done a little better job of sequencing their hits.

It's early, but this is fun stuff. Oh ... and Mookie Betts hasn't even heated up.