Here are the top 15 Payrolls in baseball for 2011 (from USA Today). After the payroll I’ve put in their rank in home attendance, based on these numbers (keeping in mind not everyone has played the same amount of home games). For kicks, I’ve added each team’s record last.
Payroll ……… Home Attendance Rank …… Standings
New York Yankees $202,689,028 … 3rd … 12-7, 1st place in AL East
Philadelphia Phillies $172,976,379 … 1st … 15-7, 1st place in NL East
Boston Red Sox $161,762,475 … 7th … 10-11, 3rd place in AL East
Los Angeles Angels $138,543,166 … 5th … 13-10, 2nd place in AL West
Chicago White Sox $127,789,000 … 20th … 9-14, Last place in AL Central
Chicago Cubs $125,047,329 … 10th … 10-12, 4th place in NL Central
New York Mets $118,847,309 … 14th … 9-13, Last place in NL East
San Francisco Giants $118,198,333 … 2nd … 10-11, 3rd place in NL West
Minnesota Twins $112,737,000 … 4th … 9-12, 4th place in AL Central
Detroit Tigers $105,700,231 … 16th … 12-10, 3rd place in AL Central
St. Louis Cardinals $105,433,572 … 8th … 12-10, 1st place in NL Central
Los Angeles Dodgers $104,188,999 … 6th … 12-12, 2nd place in NL West
Texas Rangers $92,299,264 … 9th … 14-8, 1st place in AL West
Colorado Rockies $88,148,071 … 11th … 15-7, 1st place in NL West
Atlanta Braves $87,002,692 … 13th … 11-13, 4th place in NL East
Obviously, there are plenty of factors at play: Warm April weather in some cities (Anaheim, LA), new stadiums (Twins, Yankees, Mets), and surely someone will argue that winning helps (tell that to the Cleveland Indians, who lead the NL Central, but are dead last in attendance, or the KC Royals, who are 2nd in the AL Central, but 29th in attendance).
Each year, you’re going to have a team that spends lavishly, but not wisely (as well as the opposite: A team that doesn’t spend but sneaks into the postseason and maybe makes the World Series – Marlins, Rays, last year’s Rangers, etc). This year, those teams appear to be the Mets and White Sox. Last year: Cubs, Mets.
But for the most part, I don’t see the attendance figures as anything new – the teams that spend the most money perform the best, and draw the largest home crowds. Sure, the empty seats make for jarring images (and there are a lot more of those, perhaps due to the ability of fans to capture the images on their smart phone and instantly tweet them to reporters), but I think (hope?) fans are finally getting smart and not showing up at the ballpark to support the teams that don’t spend to put a good product on the field. Loyal readers of the site know I’ve been calling for this for five years.