Friday, October 28, 2016

First ever USF baseball alumnus in World Series

According to Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times, Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Dan Otero was the first ever USF baseball alumnus to reach the World Series. Since 1967, the Bulls have played baseball and not once before Otero had a Bulls player made the Fall Classic.

In the program's history, there have been 17 players make the Major Leagues and 132 in professional baseball. There are currently only two Major Leaguers: Otero and Kevin Quackenbush of the San Diego Padres.

College baseball lives in an interesting niche. Local layers good enough to be drafted skip the college level and go directly to the minor leagues - Jose Fernandez and Dwight Gooden come to mind - and the best college players tend to go to the schools with the more success such as Florida State or University of Florida.

Having players make the news for positive accomplishments in their sport can help the popularity of USF baseball. Winning programs develop athletes who tend to do better at the professional level. When that happens, recruits notice and want to be part of the success. Recruits are attracted to and cause more buzz, which leads to more campus interest and higher attendance. Buzz also leads to more booster dollars which leads to better facilities which increases buzz even more.

I'm not saying all this will happen because a well-traveled middle reliever pitched a few innings in the World Series, but it's a start. If the Indians win the World Series, perhaps Otero can bring his ring back to USF to show the current Bulls roster.

While the Tampa area is known for so many quality baseball players through the years, it's good to see the local university getting some baseball recognition.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 uses fuzzy math to determine best baseball cities

I'm not a mathematical genuis. Far from it. So when I see a study online measuring the US's Best Baseball Cities, I want to make sure I can follow the methodology. After all, claiming a city is the best baseball town in America is a bold statement. Not cold fusion bold, but bold enough to spark sports radio debates throughout the country.

(And of course, bold enough to get published on and ensure clicks that generate ad revenue for the website and pay the author. But of course I am not accusing anyone of creating sports controversy through mythical numbers to generate page views. Nope, not all.)

A few days ago, published an article that made the claim to determine America's Best Baseball City. Written by Richie Bernardo, the study used an interesting methodology:
In order to determine the best cities for professional and college baseball fans, WalletHub’s analysts compared 361 of the most populated U.S. cities based on 25 key metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for baseball fans. For our sample, we chose cities with at least one college baseball, Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball team.

We then grouped the cities by division and assigned weights to each divisional category according to its popularity. Finally, we calculated overall scores for each city based on the weighted average across all metrics and used the results to construct our ranking.

WalletHub then lists the weights given per score and how the points were calculated.

Of the 361 cities measured, there were 22 Florida cities and towns that made the list. From the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the Florida cities are:

16. St. Petersburg
26. Miami
45. Fort Myers
64. Jacksonville
69. Coral Gables
82. Daytona Beach
86. Tampa
103. Boca Raton
126. Gainesville
149. Orlando
206. Tallahassee
221. Pensacola
242. Port Charlotte
250. Clearwater
251. Lakeland
253. Dunedin
262. West Palm Beach
267. Melbourne
269. Bradenton
318. Port St. Lucie
325. DeLand
356. Jupiter

Through their expansive methodology, St. Petersburg finished in the top of a few categories.
  • Cheapest Avg Ticket - MLB Game - 3rd
  • Most Accessible Major League Stadium - 3rd

No other Tampa Bay area team made the top 5 for any category.

While that is great on the surface and great for the Mayor of St. Pete who tweeted out the results of the study, there are a lot of problems.
  1. There are no clickable links per city to analyze the math. While cities are given final scores, we can see how the numbers added up.
  2. Spring Training is not included. This is a major problem for the Tampa Bay (16) and Phoenix (25) areas. Although there are more professional baseball games in Tampa Bay and Phoenix than any other area in the US, Spring Training doesn't fit into the methodology very well. 42 points out of 100 would not make sense. The following categories would nearly impossible to weigh:
    1. Performance Level of Team(s): Full Weight (~9.33 Points)
    2. Number of Championships Wins: Full Weight (~9.33 Points)
    3. Number of Division Championship Wins: Half Weight (~4.67 Points)
    4. Franchise Value: Half Weight (~4.67 Points)
    5. Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~9.33 Points)
    6. Popularity Index: Half Weight (~4.67 Points)
  3. College teams weigh double of Minor League teams. Cities with a college team are awarded 3.33 points, but cities with a Minor League team are only awarded 1.54. But a city such as Jupiter, Florida (ranked 356 of 361) has two Minor League teams and Spring Training yet is still ranked lower than Orlando and DeLand, neither of which have minor league teams, yet have local college baseball.

My biggest question regarding the study is what colleges were included.Do all colleges count? Were Division 2 schools included? Were community colleges included? Did the study include the University of Tampa and its Division 2 dominance? How is Tallahassee, with 3 college teams, lower than Orlando?

My second biggest question is how did they get "stadium accessibility" from the U.S. Census Bureau, Team Marketing Report, ESPN, MLB, Minor League Baseball, The Harris Poll, The National Collegiate Athletic Association and each team’s website. Which one of those provides transportation and traffic information?

Without access to their equations, website studies such as this are difficult to take seriously. They are great for people who see what they want and run with positive findings and they are great for sports talk radio fodder, but overall, they aren't useful at all.

(They are also great to generate page views, make website ad revenue, and pay freelance writers. Oops, did I say again that this was written only for the money and not for actual reprovable facts? Sorry.)

Before I cite any of their results, I would like to see WalletHub's math.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dunedin Blue Jays 2016 Attendance Review

Welcome to our 5th attendance review of 2016 and the 10th attendance review post on the Dunedin Blue Jays, minor league affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Dunedin Blue Jays began play in the Florida State League in 1987. After three seasons playing at Grant Field, the Dunedin Blue Jays moved to Florida Exchange Stadium in 1990. Florida Exchange Stadium is also the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. The current population of Dunedin is 35,444.

Dunedin Blue Jays 2016:

Home Games: 67

Total attendance: 50,063 (down 5% from 2015: 52,669)

Average attendance: 770 (down 3.5% from 2015: 798)

Highest attended game: 4,167 on Sunday, July 3rd vs Tampa

Lowest attended game: 458 on Friday, May 13th vs Brevard County

Average Time of Game: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Double headers: 2 (May 13, Aug 18)

Cancellations: 4

Notable rehab assignments: Jose Bautista, Michael Bourn, Kevin PIllar, Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki

Other notable appearances: None

(red highlight = below 2016 annual average of 770)


By Month:

The following graph depicts the average attendance by month.

By Day:

Blue Jays attendance increased 15% on the weekend compared to their average Monday through Thursday attendance.
  • Mon-Thurs average attendance: 719
  • Fri-Sun average attendance: 830
  • Difference: 15%

The following graph depicts the average attendance by day.

The following chart looks at how often daily attendance increases when compared to the day prior.

By Opponent:

By Starting Pitcher:

This chart depicts how attendance reacted from one starter to the next. If a pitcher is a great draw, the percentage between he and the prior starter should be higher.

Top Ten Attended Games:

For other years, see:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rays and ESPN the Magazine’s Ultimate Team Rankings 2016

For the 14th season, ESPN Magazine released its Ultimate Team Rankings. The Ultimate Team Rankings rank every team in the major pro sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) on eight different categories and weighs them to create an overall rankings. Data that composed the rankings was calculated partly from fan polling and partly from marketing companies. The goal of these rankings is to see which team fans think is the best all-round organization.

Tampa Bay sports had reason to celebrate this year when the Tampa Bay Lightning were ranked the number 1 organization in American professional sports.

For the Rays, however, the news was not as positive. In an article written by former DRaysBay writer Tommy Rancel, the Rays dropped 45 points from 45th to 90th out of the 122 professional teams and 24th in Major League Baseball.

The following chart shows how the Tampa Bay area teams did in the ESPN Ultimate Team Ranking:

Here is the Rays overall rank since 2003 according to ESPN Magazine:

But what caused the Rays to drop so steeply? Let's dissect each of the 8 categories to see if the Rays deserved such a decrease.
Title track (3.9%): Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans

The Rays dropped 24 spots in Title Track, from 66 to 90. The Rays have decreased every year in this category since 2012.

I agree with this. The Rays are far removed from contention and have become worse on the field in recent years.
Ownership (12.8%): Honesty; loyalty to core players and the local community

Rays ownership has not fared well according to ESPN Magazine. Rays ownership has decreased from 72 to 116 since 2012. 116th is the lowest Rays ownership has been since ESPN Magazine started ranking in 2003.

This is harsh. We can guess the stadium situation is killing the perception of Rays ownership. The unsettled stadium dilemma is definitely affecting "loyalty to the local community". Additionally, the Rays perception that they do not keep their best players - despite many being worse since leaving Tampa Bay - also doesn't help Rays ownership ranking.
Players (14.7%): Effort on the field, likability off it

The Rays Players rankings dropped 60 points in 2016. This was the their biggest single category drop of the year.

After 90-plus losses in 2016 and the worst season since rebranding as the Rays, this is not a surprise. The Rays have less talent on their team since before 2008. They are no longer competitive.
Coaching (2.8%): Strength of on-field leadership

Since the departure of Joe Maddon, coaching has not been a strong point of the Rays. New manager Kevin Cash has not had the same results as Maddon and is still learning on the job, while Maddon has brought the Cubs to the brink of the World Series.

Kevin Cash and staff started as a 75 and dropped to 119th out of 122 in all of professional sports. That's really not good. Hopefully we see improvements in 2017.
Fan relations (27.2%): Courtesy by players, coaches and front office toward fans, plus how well a team uses technology to reach fans

Rays ranking in Fan Relations dropped 49 spots from 39 to 88 in 2016. At 27% of the overall score, this rating had a big effect on the Rays overall drop.

I don't agree with this at all. After a very successful Pride Night, exhibitions in Cuba, and new daily promotions, I am not sure why the Rays Fan Relations score dropped so steeply. A small decrease I might have understood, but there is no reason for the Rays to drop 49 points on Fan Relations. If they had only dropped 10 or even 20 points, there is a chance they might not have had such an overall fall.

Unfortunately, Tommy Rancel did not cover Fan Relations in his write-up. He should have informed readers why some of the biggest score changes happened.
Bang for the buck (14.7%): Wins in the past two years per fan dollar, adjusted for league schedules

The Rays fall in Bang for the Buck is self-explanatory. They haven't won as much in recent years, so the fans have received less winning value per dollar.

Despite their recent poor records on the field, Rays tickets remain lower than average so the Rays remain a good Bang for Buck.
Affordability (12.2%): Price of tickets, parking and concessions

According to Tommy Rancel,
Their average ticket price is about $10 below that of the rest of the league, and there is a limited amount of free parking most games, along with free parking for all vehicles containing four or more passengers on Sundays. You can bring your own food into the park, but concession prices -- $10 for a hot dog plus soda -- are relatively affordable if you don't.

I don't know where Rancel finds parking for free. I've never parked for free anywhere near Tropicana Field. I think parking is among the Rays biggest rip-offs. Parking should never cost above the lowest ticket price. While beer prices are also ridiculously high at Tropicana Field, they are high everywhere. The Rays are definitely where they should be in Affordability.
Stadium experience (11.7%): Quality of arena; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions

I don't think I need to go over this at all. Tropicana Field needs to be replaced. Although to the Rays defense, there is fan-friendliness, and there is daily game-day promotions.

Unfortunately, the Rays Stadium Experience is as it was in 2003. I'm not sure I agree with that. Although compared to other stadiums around the US, even great improvements to Tropicana Field may not be enough to improve the Rays standings.


Although the Rays should have been ranked lower in 2016 than 2015 due to their record, poor coaching, and some grips with ownership, I don't think they should have fallen 45 points, especially considering the weight a bad Fan Relations score impacted.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tampa Yankees 2016 Attendance Review

Welcome to our third 2016 attendance review and our 10th attendance review post on the Tampa Yankees, minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees.


The Tampa Yankees began play in 1994. After two seasons playing at the University of South Florida, the Tampa Yankees moved to Legends Field, a stadium built across the street from Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Legends Field was renamed Steinbrenner Field in 2008. The current population of Tampa is 352,957.

Tampa Yankees 2016:

Home Games: 69

Total attendance: 73,278 (down 21% from 2015: 92,786)

Average: 1,163 (down 22% from 2015: 1,497)

Highest attended game: 7,424 on Thursday, May 5th vs Clearwater

Lowest attended game: 513 on Thursday, September 11th vs Bradenton

Double headers: 6 (30-Apr, 18-May, 13-Jun, 27-Jun, 16-Aug, 4-Sep)

Cancellations: 0

Average Time of Game: 2 hours, 31 minutes

Notable rehab assignments: None

Other notable appearances: None

(red highlight = below annual average of 1,163)


By Month:

The following graph depicts the average attendance by month.

By Day:

Tampa Yankees attendance increased 29% on the weekends compared to their average Monday through Thursday attendance.
  • Mon-Thurs average attendance: 1,035
  • Sat-Sun average attendance: 1,333
  • Difference: +29%

The following graph depicts the average attendance by day.

The following chart shows how often each day outdrew the day prior.

Saturdays were a good draw, outdrawing the game prior 91% of the time. No Sundays outdrew Saturdays.

By Opponent:

By Starting Pitcher:

This chart depicts how attendance reacted from one starter to the next. If a pitcher is a great draw, the percentage between he and the prior starter should be higher.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016 Tampa Bay Rays Attendance Review

Welcome to our second attendance review of 2016 and our tenth annual attendance review of the Tampa Bay Rays. Today we will look at the home attendance of the 2016 Tampa Bay Rays.

Total attendance: 1,286,163 (up 38,495 tickets sold (3%) from 2015: 1,247,668)

Per Game Average: 15,878 (up 475 fans per game from 2015: 15,403)

Highest attended games: 40,135 (Pride Night) Friday, June 17th vs SF

Lowest attended game: 10,117 on Wednesday, April 13th vs CLE

Lowest point of average attendance: April 14, Game 7 (Avg attendance: 14,898)

Average Time of Game: 3 hours, 0 minutes

(red shading = below annual average of 15,878)


By Month:

The following graph depicts the average attendance by month.

By Day of the Week:

Following typical trends, the Rays drew poorly during the week and better on weekends. Rays attendance increased 30% on the weekends compared to their average Monday through Thursday attendance.
  • Mon-Thurs average attendance: 12,827 (41 games)
  • Sat-Sun average attendance: 19,006 (40 games)
  • Increase: 48.1%

The following graph depicts the average attendance by day.

The following chart shows how often each day outdrew the day before.

By Opponent:

The highest drawing opponent of the year was the San Francisco Giants.This isn't unexpected as this year's Pride Night turned into a community event and support for the Central Florida LGBT community. Of the AL East opponents, those the Rays play most regularly, games versus the Red Sox drew the most, which was also not unexpected due to David Ortiz's retirement following the 2016 season.

Games versus the Yankees only drew slightly more than average, far lower than in previous years, but more than in 2015. Perhaps we are seeing a new normal regarding Yankees fans attendance at Tropicana Field. Perhaps more are turning out to Yankees Spring Training than MLB.

By Starting Pitcher:

For the second year in a row, more fans came to Chris Archer starts than to any other regularly scheduled pitcher. However, of his 16 starts, Archer pitched 10 weekend games and 8 weekday games. He also pitched Opening Day and on Pride Night, both of which would have drawn fans regardless of who was pitching.

On the other side of the spectrum, Drew Smyly pitched only 4 weekend games of his 14 games. He also pitched in front of the Rays smallest attendance of the year (10,117).

Our next chart depicts how attendance reacted from one starter to the next. If a pitcher is a great draw, the percentage between he and the prior starter should be higher.

Again, because Chris Archer pitched a majority of weekend games, the games he started tended to draw more than the previous day.

By Promotion:

As we see on the chart, Camp Day, Bobbleheads, and Alumni promotions did very well. Alumni days were promotions catering to alumni of University of South Florida, Florida State University, and University of Florida. These promotions usually involved a giveaway for fans who bought a special promotions-based ticket. Among the three universities, the University of South Florida promotion drew the most fans.
  • USF Saturday Night: 25,883
  • FSU Saturday Day: 23,948
  • UF Saturday Night: 15,603

Both the USF and FSU games coincided with post-game concerts. The UF game coincided with an Evan Longoria gnome giveaway.

Day Game / Night Game Splits:

As shown, the Rays drew better on weekends than weekdays, although they played better on the weekdays. Day weekend games outdrew night weekend games by less than 700 fans per game, but the Rays night weekend record was better than their day weekend record.

Overall, in their 36 home wins, the Rays drew 15,361 fans per game. In their 45 home losses, they drew 16,292 per game.

Again, wins and attendance are not correlated at all.

Here is how the Rays performed at various levels of attendance. Overall, they had a better record with higher attendance. And of note, no Rays game drew under 10,000 for the first time since 2011.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Adding Rays TV ratings to attendance

A few weeks ago, Maury Brown of published television ratings for all 29 US MLB teams. While other Rays writers have mentioned that Rays ratings are down and how that is not a good thing for the Rays fanbase's best argument.

But what about Total Interaction - the amount of people per game that are engaging the product, either in person or on television? Ideally, we would like to include people using the MLB app or following along on twitter, but those are difficult to ascertain. But let's combine attendance and ratings and see what we get.

First the final 2016 MLB attendance. You've probably seen this before. The Rays are on the bottom.

Let's now look at the same list adding TV viewers (TVs tuned in times 2.25 - viewers per household).

Due to their ratings and average viewers per household, the Rays jump from 29th to 20th among domestic markets. The Rays have the third biggest boost in interaction due to their ratings, trailing only Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Indicative of record, the bottom 12 teams on the above list, from LAA down, all had losing records in 2016. The top 11 teams on the above list, from CLE up, had winning records.

Due to the size of the Tampa Bay market, the Rays will never be at the bottom of ratings. If the team is good, their ratings will probably be better than average. As I mentioned in several posts, Tampa Bay is a small market, similar to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Milwaukee. When these teams are good, people watch.

And all cases besides Tampa Bay, when these teams are good, people go to games. Due to precedent then, we can boldly make the assumption that something else is in the way of Tampa Bay fans attending Major League Baseball.

Stadium location, perhaps?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tampa Bay Rays September 2016 Attendance Review

Welcome to our sixth and final monthly review of the Tampa Rays 2016 attendance. This post will look at attendance in games played at Tropicana Field from September 2, 2016 to September 25, 2016.
  • Total September 2016 Tampa Bay Rays home attendance: 186,745
  • Average attendance per game: 15,562
  • Highest attendance: 26,443 on Sunday, September 25th
  • Lowest attendance: 10,537 on Wednesday, September 7th
  • Average September game time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
  • Highest attended series: 72,627 vs Red Sox, September 23-25
  • Lowest attended series: 35,000 vs Orioles, September 5-7
  • Competing events:
  • Total Tampa Bay Minor League September attendance: 3,851
  • Tampa Bay Minor League attendance per game: 550 (7 games)

Comparing September 2016 with previous years

The following chart compares September 2016 average attendance to other recent years.

The average September 2016 attendance was 14.27% more (1,944 fans per game) than the September 2015 per game average. September 2016 was the second lowest average September attendance since 2007.

September 2016 was the Rays worst September in regards to win-loss since before 2007. Here is another argument against the Wins=Attendance theory. The Rays had a better record in September 2015 than September 2016, yet their attendance went up in 2016. This means fans probably visited Tropicana Field for reasons other than a Rays victory.

Weekdays vs Weekends

Let’s now look at the Rays September attendance on weekdays (Mon-Thurs) and weekends (Fri-Sun). As I have pointed out many times, the Rays usually have one of the biggest differences in Major League Baseball in regards to weekday versus weekend attendance.

This chart shows the Rays average weekday attendance in September since 2007.

In 2016, Rays average September weekday attendance was slightly better than 2015, but still lower than 9 of the last 10 years.The Rays played 6 weekday games in September 2016.

The following chart shows Rays average weekend attendance in August since 2007.

In 2016, Rays average September weekend attendance was better than it was in 2015, 2014, and 2012. Since 2010, 50% of the average weekend Septembers have been better, 50% have been worse.

Overall in September, the Rays saw a 54.8% increase in weekend attendance over weekday attendance.
  • 2016 September weekend games (average attendance): 6 games (18,911)
  • 2016 September weekday games (average attendance): 6 games (12,213)
  • Percentage increase on weekends: 54.8%


September 2016 was on pace to match September 2015 attendance until the final series of the season. Perhaps the biggest catalyst for the Rays increase in attendance in September 2016 was David Ortiz's final series at Tropicana Field before his retirement. The series occurred on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and averaged 24,209.

We can possibly make the assumption that Red Sox fans only visited Tropicana Field to see Ortiz. Prior to the series, games versus the Red Sox had not drawn more than any other opponent.

The final series versus the Red Sox also broke the Rays dubious streak of games under 20,000 attendance. Before September 23, the Rays had gone 27 games without drawing 20,000 fans. This was their longest such streak since 33 games (Apr 6 - June 27) in 2003.

As the season concludes, we will have overall season analysis of the Rays attendance and analysis of all the other teams in the Tampa Bay area. We will breakdown attendance by month, by day, by starting pitcher, and by opponent.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Latest post on Fangraphs: Discussing the Blue Jays possible extensionin Dunedin

This week I was again published on premier baseball analysis website Whenever I have something I think the greater baseball audience would be interested in, I submit it to Fangraphs. They are a great website with a lot of great information on baseball, from on-the-field to behind the scenes.

My most recent submission to them was my thoughts on the City of Dunedin proposal to keep the Blue Jays in Dunedin for another 25 years. While I avoid the costs of the proposal, I argue that the market cannot support the extension. It is not the best interest of the region overall.

If Tampa Bay is a major league market, the region needs to put the Major League team first. That means no further dilution of the market until the Rays situation is secure. Which it is not.

I cover a lot of other points in my nearly 2,000 word article. Please give it a read and tell me what you think.

Why Extending the Blue Jays Spring Training Location Isn’t In Tampa Bay’s Best Interest -, 10/3/2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tampa Bay GDP, Personal Income, and the Small Market Blues

Catching up with regional news and notes:

A few weeks ago the Tampa Bay Business Journal detailed the latest annual metro GDP figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. According to the BEA, Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater has the 26th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among US regions with a GDP of $133 billion in 2015.

The following chart depicts all US cities with Major League Baseball and their Metro GDP ranking.

As you can see, all 29 US teams are represented among the top 37 metro areas. 11 teams are represented in the top 7 regions. Only Milwaukee is out of the top 30 regions.

Let's combine this chart with the chart on Personal Income that I published last week. Although the Personal Income Chart did not include PIT, MIL, KC, CLE, CIN, I found those city's 2014 personal income and multiplied it by the national average (+3.8%). Then I took the rankings for each city on GDP and Personal Income and averaged them. I also removed cities that do not have MLB.

I'm not sure if this of any real value, other than showing where the Tampa Bay economy is in regards to other major metro areas with Major League Baseball.

Again, I am not sure what value this chart has other than to show that Tampa Bay is a small market compared to other MLB markets. Any team that averages a 20 or below will probably need to be more resourceful in regards to revenue streams and payroll. They will probably also have problems with attendance at some point in their franchise history. They do not have the luxury of a robust economy in their region in personal income or GDP.

Smaller markets also do not have the population to make mistakes. They walk a fine line in regards to lowly identified and marginally identified fans (think fairweather or barely interested). If a team in a small market does poorly, going to their games is no longer a major topic for the community. It is no longer an event.

And no, I do not buy into the theory that you can win long-term fans with wiz-bang events. Bright shiny things only attract low to marginally identified fans. That's great until something brighter and shinier comes along. It is a nuclear arms race to the bottom of short attention span hell.

But we will have a longer discussion on fanbase and commitment in a later post.