With baseball’s postseason now reaching its climax, involving two teams from large markets with large local fanbases, we thought it might be interesting to see how the bracket would have played out if matches were decided by fanbase size.
Drawing upon the data we collect from sports fans every day, we compare the size of teams’ US followings in an exercise we’re calling fanbase-ball.
Wild Card games
Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees
No surprises here, with the globally recognised Yankees easily brushing off the challenge of the A’s to cruise into the next round. The A’s are Major League Baseball’s 26th best-supported team, with a US following of 3.6m. More about the Yankees as we go further into the draw.
Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies
Another mismatch in this wildcard game, with the Cubs overpowering the Rockies in fanbase size. The Rockies can command just over 4m fans. And the Cubs? Well, they’re the Cubs. One of the true global names in baseball.
It’s Cleveland v Houston in the first of the American League match-ups. In real-life, Houston came through 3-0. But when it’s all about the fanbase size? It’s the Astros who win again, beating the Indians fanbase by three-quarters of a million.
In the other American League fixture, it’s the Yankees v the Red Sox, two of the great names of Major League Baseball. But unlike in real-life, where the Yankees got beat, in fanbase-ball, it’s New York, with half as many fans again as Boston, who go through.
And when the Astros meet the Yankees to decide who plays in the World Series, there’s no contest. The Astros may be the seventh best-supported team in the country but that’s no match for the Yankees, who ease through to our World Series of fanbase-ball.
Over in the National League postseason, the Cubs meet the Milwaukee Brewers following their wildcard success. And it’s no surprise to learn that Chicago have a much bigger fanbase – more than four times that of the Brewers.
In the other side of the National League draw, the Dodgers meet the Braves. In the real world, it was the Dodgers all the way. But in fanbase-ball, it’s a much closer run thing. In fact, the Dodgers and the Braves are America’s fourth and fifth best-supported teams but it’s still Los Angeles who come out on top – by just over 200,000 fans.
But when the Dodgers meet the Cubs for a place in our fanbase-ball World Series, it’s less of a close match. Although near to each other in the overall rankings, there are big differences in fanbase sizes, with Chicago comfortably beating Los Angeles.
The Final – Yankees v Cubs
It’s been 80 years since the two last met in a real-life World Series and, just as in 1938, it’s the Yankees who take home the trophy.
In fact, New York and Chicago are the two best-supported MLB teams in the country. But the Yankees are way out ahead – they boast a fanbase of 18.5m, compared to 14.3m for the Cubs.
So what about the fanbases of our real-life 2018 World Series teams – Boston and Los Angeles? Well, just like in the Series, the Red Sox enjoy a commanding advantage. And with a World Series win on the cards, who would bet against Boston picking up even more fans in the next couple of weeks.