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World Series shows the long ball is in

October 30, 2017

The evolution of baseball is apparent this World Series: Fans dig the long ball.It is not about dominant pitching. It's not about impressive overall offensive displays. And that's why this World Series is being embraced by the fan base.:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Schedule and coverage ::Five games

The evolution of baseball is apparent this World Series: Fans dig the long ball.
It is not about dominant pitching. It's not about impressive overall offensive displays. And that's why this World Series is being embraced by the fan base.
:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Schedule and coverage ::
Five games into the best-of-seven showdown between the Astros and the Dodgers, the two teams have already set a World Series record with 22 home runs. The Astros have hit 13, the second-highest total all-time to the 14 hit by the 2002 Giants in seven games. And the Dodgers are tied for 10th with nine.
With the Astros holding a 3-2 edge, the two teams will get at least one more chance to add to those totals -- two more chances if the Dodgers win on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
This hasn't simply been a matter of the hitters taking advantage of Minute Maid Park with the inviting Crawford Boxes in shallow left field. Yes, Houston and Los Angeles combined to hit seven home runs in the Astros' 13-12, 10-inning victory on Sunday night, which matched the 25-run total of the Marlins' 14-11 victory against the Indians on Oct. 21, 1997, for the second-highest scoring games in World Series. The Blue Jays beat the Phillies, 15-14, on Oct. 29, 1993.
But seven home runs equals the second-highest single-game total in World Series history. The record? The eight home runs hit by the Astros and the Dodgers in Game 2 of this Series, at Dodger Stadium.
• DYK: Fall Classic HR records falling in 2017

But swinging for the fences can also lead to a lot of outs, and the two teams have struggled to get hits when not hitting it into the stands. Houston has hit .253, which ranks 81st in World Series history, and L.A. is hitting .213, which ranks 168th out of 226 World Series teams since the first was played in 1903. The combined .233 average ranks 69th out of 113 World Series.
The teams, however, have combined for a .484 slugging percentage, the highest in World Series history. The Astros are No. 3 as a team at .528 and the Dodgers are No. 28 at .438.
And, of course, the gaudy power numbers have led to some less-than-stellar pitching lines.
The combined 5.38 ERA is the fifth highest in World Series history, albeit more than a full run lower than the 6.66 that the Phillies and Blue Jays compiled in six games in 1993. Houston has a 3-2 lead despite a 5.55 ERA, which ranks as the 15th highest in World Series history, seven spots ahead of Los Angeles, which has a 5.21 ERA.
The bullpens of the two teams have combined for a 6.33 ERA, which ranks as the sixth highest in World Series history. The Astros, at 7.58, have the 12th highest among teams, and closer Ken Giles is tied with Brandon Finnegan of the 2014 Royals for the third-highest ERA by a reliever, having retired five batters and given up five runs in two appearances.
And those who lay blame with the bullpens, consider that the two rotations have combined for the 19th-highest ERA for starting pitchers in World Series history, though their combined effort is 4.46 -- 1.87 runs per game lower than the bullpens.
The bottom line, though, it is a World Series that has been competitive. And it has kept fans paying attention until the end of each game.
Four of the five games have been decided by two runs or fewer -- two by one run and two by two.
Twenty-six runs have been scored after the sixth inning. And there have been two ninth-inning rallies to force extra innings.
It has been exciting. And that is refreshing.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.