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April 11, 2005

Attendance and winning (or losing)

One thing you won't see much of on the Greet Machine is statistical analysis of baseball. It's not that I don't enjoy the statistics of baseball, I just don't want to take the time to compile all the statistics nescessary, and I think other Twins bloggers do a fine job of it already. Having said that, one statistic I find very fascinating that doesn't get much attention from other bloggers is attendance. Whenever I look at a Twins box score, especially for home games, my eyes always dart to the bottom to check out the attendance. Of course, it is usually pathetic for the Twins as evidenced by their ranking in the bottom 1/4 for attendance in the American League. I wonder, though, is this such a bad thing?

Whenever I see the Twins actually break the 30,000 person mark for attendance at a single game, or whenever I hear that the Twins are expecting a big crowd for a particular game, it always 1) makes me happy since I want the Twins to be successful and 2) I always think, "They had better win." Because whenever there is a big game in terms of attendance I always think the Twins are going to play poorly. It may be my Norwegian pessimism, but my impression of the Twins is that they do not play well, they do not win regularly, when they are playing in front of a big home crowd.

Take this weekend for example. They stunk it up against the White Sox by losing the first two and winning the last thanks to the heroics of Santana and Hunter. And the crowds were huge! They drew over 118,000 fans for the three games making this the biggest opening day weekend in 9 years. In my mind, though, the fans were not rewarded for coming out to the ballpark. Another obvious example of their attendance-based futility are the playoffs where the Twins have only won two out of eight home playoff games in 3 years. That sucks.

So, in order to get to the bottom of this I decided to take a look at the Twins record in home games where the attendance was above 30,000 over the last 3 years (including playoff games). While the numbers aren't as bad as I thought they would be, they still aren't that good either:

April 12, 2002DetroitW48,244
April 20, 2002ClevelandW 30,146
May 10, 2002YankeesL35,727
May 11, 2002 YankeesL43,465
May 12, 2002YankeesL26,165
June 29, 2002MilwaukeeL 30,125
June 30, 2002MilwaukeeW33,193
July 27, 2002Toronto W 40,306
July 28, 2002Toronto W30,554
August 3, 2002KCW 32,567
August 4, 2002KC W 35,641
August 16, 2002 Boston W 35,824
August 17, 2002 Boston L 43,345
August 18, 2002 Boston W 37,196
August 28, 2002 Seattle W 31,414
Sept. 7, 2002 Oakland L 43,628
Sept. 28, 2002 Chicago W 32,072
Sept. 29, 2002ChicagoW 31,270
October 4, 2002 (playoffs) OaklandL 55,932
October 5, 2002 (playoffs)OaklandW 55,960
October 8, 2002 (playoffs) AngelsW 55,562
October 9, 2002 (playoffs) Angels L 55,990
April 4, 2003Toronto L 48,617
April 5, 2003 Toronto L 31,421
April 18, 2003 Yankees L 37,843
April 19, 2003 Yankees L 36,139
August 13, 2003Cleveland L 30,082
August 21, 2003 KC W 30,179
August 22, 2003 KC L 36,101
August 23, 2003 KC L 37,782
August 24, 2003 KC W 34,265
Sept. 16, 2003 Chicago W 32,921
Sept. 17, 2003 Chicago W 40,304
Sept. 18, 2003 Chicago W 39,948
Sept. 19, 2003 Detroit W 30,013
Sept. 21, 2003 Detroit W 33,396
Sept. 23, 2003 Cleveland W 33,650
Sept. 24, 2003 Cleveland W 32,986
October 4,2003 (playoffs) Yankees L 55,915
October 5, 2003 (playoffs) Yankees L 55,875
April 5, 2004 Cleveland W 49,584
May 21, 2004 White Sox L 30,116
July 30, 2004 Boston L 34,263
July 31, 2004 Boston W 40,283
August 1, 2004 Boston W 38,751
August 17, 2004 Yankees W 38,766
August 18, 2004 Yankees W 41,125
August 19, 2004 Yankees L 37,959
September 5, 2004 Royals L 33,855
September 19, 2004 Baltimore W 31,399
October 8, 2004 (playoffs) Yankees L 54,803
October 9, 2004 (playoffs) Yankees L 52,498
April 8, 2005 White Sox L 48,764
April 9, 2005 White Sox L 41,533

According to the table above, the Twins have a record of 28 wins and 25 losses in home games where the attendance is over 30,000 over the last three years. So, they are barely breaking .500. This is not too bad, but it is also not very good at all. In addition, in games where the attendance mark breaks the 40,000 barrier, the Twins are an anemic 8-12. In other words, I just don't think the Twins are rewarding fans for coming out to the ballpark. I just don't think they play well in front of big home crowds. Are they nervous? Do they try too hard? The Twins may also be subliminally sending a message to fans that says if there is a big attendance the Twins will not perform well. Twins fans may also be sub-consciously thinking that they should stay away from the ballpark so that the Twins play better.

I know what a lot of you are thinking right now. That this is hogwash. And I would have to agree with you that it doesn't (that it shouldn't!) make sense. There are also, obviously, a lot of other factors involved when it comes to winning and losing a baseball game. But you gotta admit, fan attendance at Twins game as yet another factor is kind of interesting. So, what is a Twins fan to do about this startling data?

What the table above might also suggest is that we need to go out to the ballpark this year like never before if for nothing more than to get the Twins used to playing in front of big home crowds. Of the 252 home games (including last night) the Twins have played over the last 3 years, they have only drawn over 30,000 fans 53 times. That in itself is a problematic number as compared with the rest of MLB. However, what I think it suggests more is that as fans we need to get over our hatred of the Metrodome and our desire to be outside and start going to more baseball games. We need to start giving the Twins more big home crowds so that when playoff time comes they are used to playing in front of more than 18,000 people.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by today. And I'm sorry if you don't share my passion for attendance numbers. As always, I just gotta be me.

Posted by snackeru at April 11, 2005 7:14 AM | Twins


I would say the most important part of this is that by-in-large these games were all against some of the better teams in the league. The Twins are winning nearly 53% of their home games against the best teams in the league, which maps out to nearly 86 wins in a full season. Not that bad against the quality teams they are playing.

Disregard the fact that they should win more often at home. :)

Posted by: bjhess at April 11, 2005 10:02 AM

Just to add a bit here, using Shane's list here is how the Twins do against teams over .500 and below .500 (not using the 2 games against the WS this year)

Over .500 14-14
Below .500 13-3
Playoffs 2-6

Just using the Yankees, the Twins are 2-6 regular season and 0-4 in playoffs. Given that just about every team has a problem with the Yankees, it would be unfair to penalize the Twins for that as well. Taking those games out they would be a home winning % of .675 in big crowd games. That is division winning percentages there.

I would think that Shane is focusing moreso on the Yanks as the mountain the Twins have to climb. Yes, it's depressing when the Twins get a large crowd and lose, but again a .675 winning % is great.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 11, 2005 11:43 AM

Craig, thanks for the comment. Yes, I was just thinking about the same thing at lunch, that perhaps my statistics show that the Twins have more of a problem with the Yankees than with big crowds. Ha! Thanks for looking it over. A .675 winning % is indeed very good for a baseball team.

Posted by: Shane at April 11, 2005 12:16 PM

Any discussion of the Twins home opening series this past weekend needs to discuss Fiday night's very special episode of the "Kiss Cam". Is this a PG rated blog or can we verge into PG13 rated territory and recap this for folks who were not at the opener. For me it ws the hightlight of the night (actually pretty easy to do considering the game).

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at April 11, 2005 1:13 PM

OK, Jim, you have definitely piqued my interest. What happened with the Kiss Cam? I love the Kiss Cam so I look forward to your tale!

Posted by: Shane at April 11, 2005 2:14 PM

After a few standard kiss cam shots; the tentative peck by the seniors, maybe a full on kiss by a young couple, the camera focused on the next pair. Before the female of the pair even realized she was on kiss cam, the guy grabbed her head and shall we say directed it down to his lap. The reaction of the crowd was like did that really just happen? Luckily my 12 year old daughter was getting ice cream at the time. A few of us males in my section wondered how long that guy will be in the dog house.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at April 11, 2005 5:02 PM

Hilarious, Jim. My wife would divorce me, I think.

Posted by: Shane at April 11, 2005 9:52 PM

Refreshing statistical analysis (theres a statement not used much!)

Posted by: TwinsJunkie at April 12, 2005 6:42 PM

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