Evan Longoria and David Price spoke up last year about the attendance and both Carl Crawford and Matt Garza did the same this week. I made my feelings on the matter quite clear this morning but I neglected to address the analytical side of the issue. Does the attendance affect how the team “gets up” for games?
5,664,801 fans have sat in the seat of a Rays home game (regular season and post-season) since the start of the 2008 season. They have witnessed a no-hitter, they have witnessed being no-hit, and they have watched the Rays clinch their first ever playoff spot on my 36th birthday, a divisional pennant, and an American League pennant during that time. Overall, the Rays have gone 158-85 over the past three seasons in Tropicana Field which equates to a .650 winning percentage. That winning percentage is tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best in all of baseball over the past three seasons and four points ahead of the New York Yankees. The news gets better when you break down the attendance further.
- The Rays are 82-50 (.621) in home games against teams with a winning percentage greater than .500 since 2008. That is the best in all of baseball.
- The Rays are 68-34 (.667) in home games against teams with a winning percentage less than .500 since 2008.That is fourth best in all of baseball.
It is clear the Rays are a very tough team to play in Tropicana Field, but does the attendance problems diminish their advantage at home?
When the Rays play a home game in front of at least 20,000 fans, they have a .631 winning percentage which is just slightly below their overall home winning percentage. When the club plays in front of less than 20,000 fans, they have a .657 winning percentage which is slightly above their overall home winning percentage. It is rather tough to see a dramatic affect of attendance on results at the 20,000 split but it becomes more obvious when moving to the more extreme ends of the attendance spectrum.
When the Rays play in front of crowds of at least 30,000 fans over the past three seasons, they are 40-16 which equates to a .714 winning percentage. That is nearly the same winning percentage the 2001 Seattle Mariners put up in the entire 2001 season in which they were 116-46. Conversely, when the Rays play at home in front of a crowd of 15,000 or less, they are 30-16 which equates to a .652 winning percentage.
That is a significant result because most of the games with that low attendance are against teams with losing records and one would assume that the Rays’ winning percentage would be stronger in those contests. 24 of the 46 games (52%) the Rays played in front of those small crowds came against teams with losing records. When playing in front of crowds of at least 30,000 fans, just 17 of the 56 games (30%) played were against teams with losing record yet the Rays did significantly better in those games.
Overall, the Rays play at their home field average winning percentage even in front of smaller home crowds but they do their absolute best when more people come out to see them play. Keep that in mind during the 2011 season if you have some extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket during the season and there is a home game that day.