Could London Series Feature Most Runs Scored in an MLB Game?

London Stadium's dimensions make it a favorable hitting park.
Jun 25, 2023; London, GBR, ENG; A general view of London Stadium before game two of the London series between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 25, 2023; London, GBR, ENG; A general view of London Stadium before game two of the London series between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports / Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

MLB travels across the pond this weekend for another iteration of the London Series, which will be held for the third time in five years with plans to circle back in 2026. This time, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets will lock in for a division rivalry game—which is typically the sort of matchup the league brings to its international audience—in the United Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday.

Previously the New York Yankees played the Boston Red Sox in 2019. Most recently, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs faced off in 2023.

Each time, scorelines have been high and the offense has been exciting, which has boded well for the league's presumed hopes to drum up a global interest in the sport and capture a novel audience.

Looking at the offensive trends and history, going into the London Series game I thought it useful to take a gander at the highest-scoring games of all time and the likelihood that someday a London Series game flirts with the record.

Highest scoring MLB games of all time

Here are the highest scoring games of all time:

Teams

Total runs scored

Year

Phillies/Cubs

49

1922

Phillies/Cubs

45

1979

Giants/Reds

38

1901

Braves/Marlins

38

2020

The runline of nearly 50 runs in 1922 has stood the test of time, as has the 38-run game in 1901 which remains tied for top three. That was before the technical formation of the MLB, which came when the American and National Leagues merged in 1903.

London Stadium dimensions for MLB games

The London Series typically produces high-scoring games. The first game in London in 2019 featured 30 and then 20 runs scored in the two games played. The second series was a bit less explosive but also relatively high-scoring, with 10 and 13 total runs scored.

A few reasons could be pointed to as explanations for high run totals in London.

Long flights for both teams and strange routines could create tired players and a resulting lack of defensive spunk that might otherwise be present. Conspiracy theorists might believe the unproven idea that MLB procures balls for special events that are more likely to go for hits than otherwise.

Another is the favorable dimensions of London Stadium. The left and right foul poles are 330 feet, with dead center sitting 385 feet away from home plate. The wall is 16 feet tall. No other MLB park features such a short distance to center field, with Fenway Park coming closest at 390 feet.

London Stadium featured a 142 park factor rating in 2023 and a 171 in 2022 according to Statcast, both of which favored the offense by any other venue in the league those respective seasons.

Could London Stadium feature highest-scoring game?

While center field is quite shallow at London Stadium, left and right field both are relatively healthy distances away. With most fly balls tending to be hit to left or right field rather than dead center, a shallow middle wall may not be as much of a hitter advantage as one would think.

This year, also, there's been an observed difference in how balls carry. Of balls that are hit 95 miles per hour or harder and at 15 degrees of launch angle or more, fewer are going for home runs so far in 2024 compared to previous seasons. According to Statcast, about 46 percent of those hits have been home runs this year, with that rate above 55 percent in all years of Statcast tracking before 2024. That has led to some conspiracy theorizing from social media sleuths.

Though there's no documented proof of MLB procuring balls for specific events that will produce greater offense, it is generally accepted that baseballs have variability year-to-year in terms of how they play. That expected variability could be playing into a generally more tepid offense this season.

So, will we see a record-breaking offensive performance at London Stadium in 2024? It's possible, but reaching the record marks of 45-plus is statistically unlikely. There's a reason that record has stood, without even a small threat, since 1922.

The Phillies are second in runs scored per game so far in 2024, and the Mets punch in 4.39 per game (14th in MLB).


Published |Modified
Josh Wilson

JOSH WILSON

Josh Wilson is the News Director of the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Before joining the SI team in 2024, Josh worked for FanSided in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Managing Editor of the brand’s flagship site. He has also served as a general manager of Sportscasting, the sports arm of a startup sports media company, where he oversaw the site’s editorial and business strategy. Josh has a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master’s degree in accountancy from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Josh loves a good nonfiction book and enjoys learning and practicing Polish. He lives in Chicago but was raised in Upstate NY. He spent most of his life in the Northeast and briefly lived in Poland where he ate an unhealthy amount of pastries for six months.