Do Expectations Impact the Price of 2016 MLB Tickets on the Secondary Market?

March 9, 2016

As March rolls in, Spring Training has begun and that means regular season baseball is not far away. It’s never too early to start getting ready for the season and planning trips to the ballpark. Most teams have already placed single-game tickets on sale for the 2016 season and the secondary market has flooded with tickets for upcoming games.

Baseball can be one of the most interesting sports to follow in terms of ticket prices on the secondary market because of the amount of games played each season. Each team will host 81 games, which gives fans ample opportunities to see a game live. Secondary market prices for baseball teams also vary widely because of the ability of each team. Some teams like the New York Yankees will see higher prices year-after-year because of the market they play in, but many other teams will have the average price for the season hinge on how the team plays or is expected to play.

With no game played yet in 2016, we can only go on how teams are expected to play. For that we look to FanGraphs’ win projections which are used below for each team in 2016. Each team has its win projection used to compare to its current secondary market average for home games. For instance the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers both lead all teams with 96 projected wins. However, the average price does not always perfectly correlate with expectations for each team (for the stat nerds out there -- and this is baseball so there's increasingly more of them -- r^2 for the 2016 season is 0.365, which does not indicate a strong correlation). The Cubs and Dodgers are a perfect example. Chicago leads the league in average price at $152.08 thanks to high expectations, but the Dodgers among the bottom third in the league with a $74.10 average price at Dodger Stadium.

This can also be used to find value among these teams. There’s five teams expected to play .500 baseball this season at 81 wins, but prices to see those teams play are not as equal as projected play. Prices range greatly between the Detroit Tigers ($150.42), Tampa Bay Rays ($92.25), Miami Marlins ($79.85), Arizona Diamondbacks ($72.51) and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ($63.09).

All teams in Major League Baseball are plotted in the graph below by projected wins and current average price on the secondary market. The further right the team is, the more it is projected to win. The higher up a team is, the more expensive tickets are to see that team at home. Technically the best value sits in the lower right of the chart with the Dodgers and cluster of San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals.