In news that helps explain why the Indians felt the need to acquire veteran outfielder Chris Dickerson from the Pirates earlier today, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that center fielder Michael Bourn’s hamstring strain is “more serious” than initially believed.
Bourn has struggled with hamstring problems since last season, eventually undergoing tendon surgery, and this time around Hoynes says he’ll be out for at least 3-4 weeks. That puts a potential return date at early August even if things go smoothly and given Bourn’s recent history that should probably qualify as very optimistic.
In between the disabled list stints Bourn has been his usual self this season at the plate, hitting .267 with a .695 OPS compared to his career .270 batting average and .699 OPS, but he’s attempted just 10 stolen bases in 66 games after previously being one of the most potent base-stealers in MLB and the Indians didn’t give him a four-year, $48 million contract for his bat.
Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.
Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.
All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.