How You Felt About 2015 by Jeff Sullivan November 12, 2015 Earlier in the week, I asked you some questions. It was all very easy — one poll for each of the 30 teams, this being a sample: It was part of an attempted project, and a project is no good if you don’t at some point advance to the results. So now we get to discuss some of the findings, with thousands of votes having rolled in. For all I know, there’ll be more posts later on that are based on this data set. That’s the neat thing about having data — once you have it, it’s good forever. But we can address the major stuff. What happens later happens later. The first finding: at least 11.46% of you claiming to be Royals fans are trolls. I mean, I’m not in your head. Maybe there are Royals fans out there who’ve fallen in love with high draft picks. Maybe there are Royals fans out there who follow the team first and foremost because of Jason Vargas, or Omar Infante. Maybe some Royals fans really did have a very bad season experience, but I’m going to bet against it. So I went ahead and did what you’re never supposed to do: I threw out data. Operating under the assumption that people were just trying to mess with the poll, I threw out the very-bad votes, and the pretty-bad votes, and even the decent votes. Maybe I should’ve just fixed the Royals data point at the maximum, but what I did should work well enough. It stands to reason that Royals fans should’ve had the best experience, overall. I can get them there by correcting for the trolling attempts. In the big picture, this doesn’t affect much. Okay, so with the Royals taken care of, and no one else touched, here are the participation numbers, broken down by team: Blue Jays fans showed up in the greatest numbers. They beat second place by more than 200 votes, although second place was the Royals, for whom I threw votes away. Then you get the Cubs, then a big drop-off, then the Mets, and so on and so forth. Bringing up the rear: the Diamondbacks, and the Marlins, and that surprises no one. The Blue Jays got more votes than the bottom five teams, combined. There is a relationship here between participation and team success, but it’s not that strong. The Angels did all right, and they didn’t get that many votes. The Red Sox and Mariners were bad, and they got plenty of votes. You know how you don’t see that many Diamondbacks fans around on the Internet? Teams just have different Internet presences. And then those presences have different FanGraphs presences. Now for actual ratings. As I’ve done with previous polls, I assigned a number score to each vote. A vote for “very good experience” was worth five points. A vote for “very bad experience” was worth 1 point. You can figure out the rest. Here’s the whole landscape: The Royals finish first, obviously, after my own vote-tweaking. Then you have the Cubs in a virtual tie with the Mets, even though the two teams met in the NLCS and the Mets ran the Cubs over. That didn’t do much to diminish the quality of the previous six and a half months. The four LCS teams are all within the top five, but the Astros slip in in front of the Blue Jays. And the 10 playoff teams are all within the top 11, but we find the Twins in front of the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Yankees. One non-playoff team with low expectations; three playoff teams with un-met high expectations. The two lowest scores: the A’s, and the Nationals. Rounded to two decimal places, they tied for last, but the A’s have the lowest score by a few thousandths. Then you have the Padres, Mariners, and Rockies, and I should note, while the A’s had a lower score than the Nationals, more than half of all Nationals fans rated their season experience as “very bad.” That was the highest rate for that category; it’s just that there were a lot more A’s fans who came in at “pretty bad.” An obvious analysis: how’s the relationship between fan rating and winning percentage? (For simplicity, this excludes playoff performance.) It’s there, no doubt. And it’s fairly strong — more than anything else, fans just want their teams to win. Competitive teams provide at least six months of worthwhile baseball entertainment. But now look at this plot of rating against the difference between actual winning percentage and preseason projected winning percentage (on FanGraphs): Stronger, and by a good amount. Success is best understood relative to expectations, and this explains why the Nationals finished so low. The Nationals won 51% of their games, and they had an average experience rating of 1.76. The Twins won 51% of their games, and they had an average experience rating of 4.08. This is mostly because the Nationals were projected to win 59% of their games, while the Twins were projected to win 46% of their games. Put more simply, the Nationals were supposed to be World Series contenders, and the Twins looked like a probable cellar-dweller. So what was frustrating for one fan base was delightful for another, as the Twins tried to beat the odds, and the Nationals tried to beat the odds very differently. This also kind of helps explain the Phillies. The Phillies finished with the worst record in the league. They actually finished a bit worse than their projection, in part because of midseason moves. But the Phillies’ fan rating ranked 18th. If results are to be believed, Phillies fans just had more fun with baseball than Red Sox fans and White Sox fans. They were nearly even with Orioles fans. Phillies fans had no (good) expectations, so they were content to observe any player development, and they welcomed trades that improved the future outlook. It’s not that Phillies fans had a great time, but they were prepared to just consume baseball for baseball’s sake, and they found some upsides. It’s not a situation you want to face every year, but for the Phillies, it was time. Funny enough, there’s zero relationship between fan rating and preseason projected winning percentage. Which means last spring’s projections didn’t predict at all who would and wouldn’t have a good time. It was certainly a weird year for projections, but that’s still something to ponder. Relative to “expected” fan experience rating, based on winning-percentage variables, the Astros and Mets beat their estimates by the most. With the Mets, you get the frustrating franchise context, and the Nationals’ collapse, and the trip to the World Series. With the Astros, I think this is capturing the meteoric rise after a few years in the dumps. At the other end, White Sox fans were surprisingly displeased, by this model, and what I think that captures is a sense that the preseason projections might’ve felt low at the time. Back then, the projections didn’t like the White Sox, but they were being sold as a contender, so that raised expectations, and then nobody hit the baseball for months. Cardinals fans were also surprisingly displeased, and that might come from not even getting back to the LCS. They also just had a crazy regular-season record, so maybe that’s throwing the numbers off. I don’t know how surprising any of this is, but I’m pleased to have the numbers. Thank you to those of you who participated, except for the people who messed with the Royals poll, who I hope all accidentally drop their dinner plates.