Team Marketing Research has released their annual Fan Cost Index (FCI) comparisons of major league teams. From their publication, Fan Cost Index is a measure of the "prices of two (2) adult average-price tickets, two (2) child average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps."
Better teams should be able to charge their fans more, as they're providing a better product and thus have greater demand. Bad teams should charge less, as their product on the field isn't a good and they thus have lower demand. I'm sure MSA Population size, population average income, etc, all matter too. But today I just want to compare how much value fans are getting--i.e. how good are the teams relative to how much fans have to pay to see them.
First, FCI vs. Actual Winning Percentage
Points above the line represent a "bad value," whereas points below the line represent a "good value." The best value this year (largest negative residual) is the Los Angeles Angels--while not the cheapest in baseball, you get to watch an excellent team for a very good price. Interestingly, when I did a similar comparison several years back, the Angels showed up as the best value then as well. Other excellent values are the Angels' division rival Rangers, the Diamondbacks, the Brewers, and the Rockies.
"Bad" values, in order of how far off the line they are, include the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Nationals, and Mets. Frankly, those teams are so far off the line that they're in another league in terms of fan fleecing.
Two more graphs below the jump!
We all know, of course, that actual winning percentage isn't always a good indication of how well the team has played. How about a comparison of FCI with estimated winning percentages from the latest BtB Power Ranking?
"Best Buys": Arizona (-$85), Angels (-$72), Rays (-$70), Rangers (-$58), and Rockies (-$55).
"Worst Buys": Yankees ($176), Cubs ($111), Red Sox ($98), Mets ($83)
Washington is next on the Worst List, but they're right there with the other teams--the Power Rankings think they've been pretty unlucky this year.
Arizona's an interesting case. Their FCI is down 30% compared to 2008. Perhaps it has something to do with how terrible the economy is there. To all our D-backs fans reading this, has the team talked about this?
Beer vs. Team Quality
Here's what's really important though--how much does the beer cost? Here is a comparison of the smallest beer cost vs. estimated winning percentage. You'd expect crappy teams to sell cheaper beer...not just because of the economic reasons discussed above, but because beer is required to make some teams tolerable! My Reds fall into that category this season. :)
What's the deal with San Francisco?
As requested by Joelstra, I adjusted the FCI data to account for cost of living differences. (Methods for the stat geeks out there: I used data from this site to get cost of living modifiers for each MLB city (all were relative to Cincinnati...cause that's my team). I then regressed FCI onto these cost of living modifiers, and got the residual values for each city. These residuals, plus the MLB-median FCI, is what I'm calling my "Cost of Living Adjusted Fan Cost Index" (CoLAFCI). This is a preferable method to using a ratio, as the slope relating FCI and Cost of Living is not equal to one).
Anyway, there are differences.
Adjusted Fan Cost Index vs. Winning %
Best buys: Angels (-$119), Giants (-$59), Diamondbacks (-$47), Dodgers (-$42)
Worst buys: Yankees (+$134), Cubs (+$104), Red Sox (+$88), Nationals (+$54), Houston (+$48), St. Louis (+$45)
The Giants get a nice boost given the cost of living. Mets get pulled down to appearing reasonable. The Angels look phenomenal.
Now, Expected Winning % vs. our Adjusted FCI
Best Buys: Angels (-$111), Diamondbacks (-$65), Athletics (-$46), Dodgers (-$39)
Worst Buys: Yankees (+$128), Cubs (+$116), Red Sox (+$82), Astros (+$66) and Cardinals (+$59)