Major League Baseball attendance numbers are a sham.
That notion was floated out by Lew Freedman of Give Me Sport in an article that was published earlier in September. It is one of the worst kept secrets in professional sports that teams fudge home attendance figures to boost their stats. The practice isn’t all that different than college football teams giving certain players on the roster an extra inch or two in height when putting together media guides.
It’s easy to understand how a majority of the clubs featured in this piece fell into the bottom ten of MLB attendance averages. Two stand out from the others as anomalies.
Get out to those ballparks and cheer on your clubs, Cleveland and Kansas City baseball fans.
Here are the 10 lowest Major League Baseball attendance averages of 2014.
Stats accurate as of the morning of September 12. Attendance numbers courtesy of ESPN
10. San Diego Padres — Average Attendance: 27,017
San Diego deserves credit for at least one thing this season: The club wins when hosting opponents at PetCo Park. 40 of 71 home games to date in 2014 have ended in wins for the Padres.
Their 27-47 road record it what is dooming the Padres to another losing season.
San Diego averaged 34,445 fans per home game in 2007. Since that time, the team hasn’t been able to reach 30,000 in average attendance. The Padres have had only a single winning season in the past seven years.
That was all the way back in 2010.
9. New York Mets — Average Attendance: 26,712
Citi Field is a beautiful venue in which to watch a baseball game. There are great views of the field from all over. Concessions are everywhere, and the food sold at Citi Field is not your typical ballpark fare. The park even has a Shake Shack!
It’s too bad that the team doesn’t match the quality of the venue.
The fact of the matter is that there is simply so much to do in and around New York that going out of the way to watch losing baseball teams in person is not worth it. Citi Field first opened its gates in 2009. The Amazin’s have yet to have a winning season while in their new home.
Of course the team’s attendance is woeful.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks — Average Attendance: 25,058
You can have all kinds of gimmicks, such as a swimming pool and a retractable roof, at the ballpark. They will only mean so much if the product that is on the field is not anything special. The Diamondbacks have proven that for years, and it is once again the case for the club in 2014.
Arizona, tied for dead last in the overall Major League Baseball standings, last averaged over 30,000 fans for home games in 2008. The Diamondbacks have made it to the playoffs only once in the past six seasons. They haven’t managed to average crowds of 27,000 in a season during that stretch.
7. Oakland Athletics — Average Attendance: 25,008
It’s 2014. Football teams should play inside of football stadiums, and baseball teams should play in baseball parks. There was a time when the A’s and Oakland Raiders sharing The Coliseum was fine.
Those days are gone. The Raiders are eying a possible move from the city if the franchise doesn’t get a new stadium. It’s possible that the A’s could do the same at some point.
Oakland is commonly in the bottom-half of Major League Baseball home attendance. 25,000 would, if that number holds up through the end of the 2014 season, be the highest figure for A’s average attendance since 2005.
6. Kansas City Royals — Average Attendance: 23,431
I get it, Kansas City fans. You’re broken and maybe even slightly bitter. The Royals have been a laughingstock of the American League Central seemingly since the day before forever. While the Detroit Tigers have been perennial contenders, Kansas City has been a pretender.
Not anymore. The Royals could prove to be the best team in the AL Central en route to winning the division title. Kansas City plays in a renovated Kaufmann Stadium. Go support your team, KC baseball fans.
The Royals aren’t letting you down.
5. Houston Astros — Average Attendance: 21,426
Teams sometimes get what they deserve when it comes to home attendance numbers.
Houston last had a winning season in 2008. The team averaged 34,744 fans for home games that season. Nearly 2.8 million total people made it out to Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros play during the ’08 regular season.
Houston hasn’t won more than 76 games in a year since, and the fans have made their unhappiness known by not buying tickets. The low point for the club came in 2012, when the Astros averaged under 20,000 fans (19,849) per home contest.
4. Miami Marlins — Average Attendance: 21,418
“What has moving to Miami brought the Marlins? About 800 extra fans per game.”
That statement opened up an article on the Marlins that was printed by the Miami Herald in August 2013. It’s one that makes you question if the team moving from SunLife Stadium to Marlins Park after the 2011 Major League Baseball season was even worth it. In their final year at SunLife, Miami averaged 18,772 fans in attendance per home game.
That number rose to 19,584 in 2013.
The Marlins are a “meh” team this season. They are three games below .500, and Miami is all but out of the playoff race. To their credit, the Marlins have gone 40-34 at home this season.
3. Chicago White Sox — Average Attendance: 20,496
Three of the five American League Central teams are playoff contenders. The White Sox are not one of them. Chicago will, barring an unforeseen and unimaginable winning streak, finish well below .500. It appears that local fans are not all that interested in seeing the retiring Paul Konerko in person before he calls time on his playing days.
In defense of White Sox supporters, it isn’t as if the club has routinely given fans reasons to make jaunts to the ballpark in 2014. Chicago has gone .500 (37-37) at home. Add that along with a 29-43 away record, and you’ve got the makings for a bad team.
2. Cleveland Indians — Average Attendance: 18,386
“Why don’t more people go to Progressive Field?” It’s a question that has been asked by analysts and beat reporters often over the past two years. The Tribe earned a postseason berth last September, and the Indians are once again in playoff contention in the final month of the current campaign.
Yet, Cleveland is second-worst in Major League Baseball attendance figures.
Part of the problem is that the local economy isn’t all that great. Another part is that Cleveland is a football town. The Cleveland Browns drafting superstar rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers did the Indians no favors.
Last but not least is fans feeling burned out by supporting a team that, at best, is a one-and-done playoff squad.
1. Tampa Bay Rays — Average Attendance: 17,627
The Tampa Bay region, along with other parts of the state, are filled with transplants. It’s one reason why the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox draw big crowds whenever those sides play the Rays in Florida. Tampa Bay is well on its way to finishing the season dead last in average attendance and in total attendance.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
The Rays have not managed to draw 2 million people in total attendance since the franchise’s debut Major League Baseball season in 1998. Tampa Bay hasn’t averaged 20,000 in average attendance for home games in four years. It’s no wonder the team’s away record (37-35) is better than its home record (33-42).