Teams that win see attendance go up. Mostly.

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Bloomberg looks at the attendance numbers 60% of the way through the season and finds what one might expect to find: if the team wins, the fans show up:

On a team-by-team level, the numbers support the conventional wisdom that fans will come to see winners.

Thirteen of the league’s 30 teams have seen attendance improve so far this year. Nine of those 13 have a better winning percentage this season than they did at the same point last season . . . On the flip side, 10 of the 17 teams with declines in attendance have also seen declines in performance.

There are some quirks, obviously. The Red Sox and Cardinals are down in record but up in attendance. A lot of that is based on the fact that both teams had great 2013 seasons and are pretty solid draws all the time anyway.

Maybe the oddest ones are the Blue Jays and Nationals, both of whom are doing better this year than last but both of which dropped in attendance. That’s not great. Maybe Washington’s drop is based on crazy-enthusiasm in 2013 which boosted attendance early, before it was clear that they weren’t going anyplace last year. The Jays thing could be much the same, as there was a lot of exuberance early in 2013 and a lot of skepticism coming in to this season.

Largely, though, the pattern holds. Which just makes me laugh at the claims some owners make from time to time about being unable to put more into payroll unless and until attendance goes up. The fans follow winning, winning doesn’t follow the fans.

 

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.