Major League Baseball’s fans make it very simple on their favorite teams. Win and we’ll show up.
So, thanks in many respects to rejuvenate seasons from the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, MLB’s enjoying a banner year with some of its biggest markets and most loyal fan bases returning to prominence.
Yet, even with the Blue Jays, Mets, Astros, and Cubs set for triumphant returns to the postseason, along with the big-market New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers contending once again, MLB hasn’t seen a very robust turnout at stadiums.
Attendance compared to last year has risen a minuscule 0.2 percent, or an increase of 162,221 spectators, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
More than 73.7 million fans, for an average of 30,366 per game, have turned out through 2,429 games between MLB’s 30 clubs, compared to nearly 73.6 million and 30,337 in 2014. The average number of fans rose by just 29 from 2014 to 2015.
And while attendance ticked up, a majority of teams experienced a drop. Seventeen out of 30 teams saw their total attendance decline this season, with the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies experiencing the biggest drop with 592,772 fewer fans coming out to Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s fans can be forgiven for not showing up this season. The Phillies own the worst-record in the majors of 63-99, 27 games back of first place in the National League East.
In contrast, and due in large part to their first division crown in nine seasons, the Mets have hosted 420,945 more fans this season, a 19.5 percent increase compared to a squad that finished 79-83 a year ago.
The Cubs, who finished 17 games back in last place in the NL Central last season, completed a turnaround and fans rewarded the club by churning the turnstiles. Clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2008, Chicago welcomed 307,699 more fans to Wrigley Field, up 11.6 percent from last season.
The Kansas City Royals, Toronto and Houston experienced the largest jumps in attendance, with both clubs hauling in more than 400,000 fans this season. Hoping to repeat as American League champions, the Royals saw 752,067 more fans pour into Kauffman Stadium, a massive 38.4 percent increase from last season's magical run to the World Series.
Fielding the best offense in baseball, the Blue Jays already wrapped up the AL East and made the postseason for the first time since 1993, when they last won the World Series. They've hosted 2,794,891 this season, 419,366 more than 2014 for a 17.6 percent jump.
The Astros were a laughingstock around the league, posting a losing record in seven of the last eight seasons, but reached the postseason in the deep AL West. Houston saw 401,756 more spectators this season, and experienced the second-largest bump from 1.7 million fans to 2.1 million, a striking 22.9 percent climb.
The year-over-year overall uptick clearly isn’t dramatic across the board, but for MLB it is a positive sign after last year’s nose dive in attendance. Back in 2013, more than 74 million fans attended games, the sixth-highest total in league history, but the league then experienced a 3.15 million decline, or 4.2 percent, in 2014.
All told, five teams drew more than 3 million fans this season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the majors for the third straight year with 3.7 million. The St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees round out the 3-million club, while the Los Angeles Angels squeaked in at 3.01 million.