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Visualizing MLB Teams by Social Media Followings

Breakdown of MLB fanbases by area code. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

On our Twitter over the last month, we’ve been periodically posting charts that breakdown MLB fanbase presences over different social media sites. With all the data collected, it’s time to consolidate and dive a bit deeper into how and where baseball fans show the most support for their team.

A lot of the data speaks for itself, and some of the results aren’t too shocking at all. (Yes, the Yankees have a larger presence of followers than the Marlins do).

The data represents the number of followers/page likes/subscribers of the official team page or account. 


One asterisk when it comes to Reddit – multiple teams have more than one subreddit where fans comment, post pictures, and interact to discuss their team. For example, there are two (rival) Yankee subreddits (that if combined, would put them in second place on this graph). There are also other teams with one main subreddit and multiple spin offs that are significantly smaller (< 1,000 subscribers). This graph shows the subreddit subscriber count of the top/official subreddit for each team.


Combining Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter gives the best idea of where teams stand realistically when ranked by social media presence.


Here’s the previous graph but broken up visually by social media platform.

 

Over the course of posting these graphs on Twitter and reddit, many individuals have asked to see a comparison with city population. We did our best with the two following charts, but realistically, the correlation between city population and team fanbase size is minimal. The city of Oakland has a population just over 500,000, but with its location approximately 12 miles from San Francisco, those numbers are skewed. The Bay area in total has over 6.6 million people with the option to root for over five different teams in the state of California. Plus, only looking at city populations ignores the smaller cities and entire state populations as a whole. (Look at the title photo for this article to see the breakdown of fan bases by area codes). The Mets do not have a single dominant area representing their team in the title photo’s map, but the obviously still have a following.


This graph shows team followers versus the city’s population. It’s not perfect, but it does allow you to see which team has the greatest following outside its immediate city, with the Red Sox leading by far at a 1.9 to 1 follower to Boston city population. Other noticeable standouts: the Royals – despite having a below average total followers count, Kansas City’s population is 68% smaller than their followers count. Similar story for the Indians and Brewers as well.


Continuing the look at population size vs fan base size, this graph gives a little bit more context as to the trends across the entire MLB. Again, however, with an R² coefficient of only .38, the data is not significant enough to claim that a city’s population size will accurately reflect its fan base size.

 

Does the DH make a difference? Across every major social media platform teams and fanbases use, AL teams have more followers than NL teams.

While the AL has more followers than the NL (see previous graph), they wouldn’t be that far ahead without the presence of the AL East, which is made up of some of the largest fanbases in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays.

 

So which team’s have the best social media accounts? Not just the one with the most fans – we’re talking the ones that non-fans want to follow. In the past, First and Fan wrote this article praising the Rockies social media team for their consistent creativity and content, but they’re not the only team deserving of recognition today.

Our top 5 (in no particular order):
1. @Rockies
2. @Indians
3. @Royals
4. @RedSox
5. @Athletics

Honorable mentions: @Nationals, @Astros, and @Rangers.
Worst of the worst: @WhiteSox

I highly recommend following every MLB team on Twitter and decide your top 5 for yourself.

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Connor Dolan
Connor is co-founder of First And Fan and head of all website operations. He's a die hard Boston sports fan with a passion for sports, media, and all things David Ortiz.
http://twitter.com/connordolan14