Thursday, July 05, 2007

1989 Topps #49

In what was one of the more shameless pursuits of meaningless individual goals by a team player in recent memory, Craig Biggio finally hit his 3,000th career hit last week. If he retired 5 years ago, he would still make the Hall of Fame, considering that this was once a great player whom Bill James convincingly argued was better than Junior Griffey. But his performance over the last couple years has been borderline pathetic and if you're hip to new-fangled stats like VORP, then Biggio is ranked 31st among all Major League second basemen, which is amazing when you consider that there are only 30 starting second basemen jobs to be had in Baseball. A .400 slugging percentage is acceptable if you're playing that position in the NL, but not if you're barely OBPing .300.

I would love to see a study of how much a player in pursuit of a second-rate record or a milestone can directly impact a team's attendance. After all, if it's counter-productive to play Biggio at second when you have other (and better) internal options, then you should at least be getting a bit more coin out of it, right? But since I'm not aware of any such study, I guess I'll have to conduct one of my own.

Attendance for Games Minute Maid Park, June 2006

06/08 - 35752
06/09 - 37097
06/10 - 41808
06/11 - 39523
06/16 - 36328
06/17 - 39048
06/18 - 39867
06/20 - 32713
06/21 - 33243
06/22 - 43769

The sudden spike for the last home game of June, in case you were wondering, was for Roger Clemens's season debut. The average attendance per game comes out to 37,915. If you determine that Rocket's first start was an abberation, then it averages out to 37,264 per.

Attendance for Games at Minute Maid Park, June 2007

06/01 - 36784
06/02 - 39234
06/03 - 40483
06/12 - 33637
06/13 - 34611
06/14 - 42024
06/15 - 37322
06/16 - 41974
06/17 - 42019

At this point, the Astros went on a 9-game road trip, with Biggio stuck at 2989 hits. Biggio collected 8 more and upon their return to Minute Maid, Biggio went 5-6 to put him over 3,000. The last three games:

06/28 - 42537
06/29 - 42861
06/30 - 43071

It would be safe to assume that many fans purchased advanced tickets during the days before in anticipation of witnessing history but at any rate, there's clearly an attendance increase when Biggio was closing in on that arbitrary number that people think is so great because it's a "3" with a "0," a "0," and another "0" after it. But how much difference does it really make to the Houston's bottom line?

The average home attendance for June of this year is 39,713, a 1,798 difference from last year. The average ticket price at Minute Maid is $26.66, which translates to an extra $47,934.68 for the month of June. You can add a few dollars when you consider money spent on parking and hot dogs but we can't really add any extra revenue from fans who purchased Biggio jerseys to remember the experience by; the new Collective Bargaining Agreement declares that all money made from merchandise gets divided into 30 and shared among all teams. And I have no idea how much revenue they gained through advertising and television. But really, a measly extra 50 grand? Especially when you consider that more people showed up for Clemens's debut last year than for any of the games where Biggio was anticipated to hit his 3rd thousand.

Attendance for Games at Minute Maid in July 2007, So Far.

07/01 - 35260
07/02 - 28973
07/03 - 37993
07/04 - 39993

And now people are back to caring less about the Astros.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

That's some pretty fierce stat work, son. One thing I've always wondered about regarding over-the-hill players approaching milestones is how much a manager's sentimentality for a veteran player effects roster choices. Do you replace Biggio with a younger, more productive player, or do you keep him on board as either an icon that fills seats (which Biggio isn't, really) or a veteran team captain that the younger guys rally behind, both at the expense of producing numbers? Either way, it's the Astros, so the point is kind of moot.