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.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.