MILWAUKEE -- It has long been said that the greatest fans in baseball come from one of the archrivals of the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals. After all, they have an incredible baseball heritage and consistently draw huge numbers compared to their metropolitan size.
However, the fans who support the Milwaukee Brewers are nipping on their heels and may have a case to say they're even more loyal when it comes to putting people in the seats.
We broke down 2017 attendance numbers in four categories and checked out the rankings in each of these. Only a handful of franchises rank in the top 10 in three of these categories.
The first: Pure attendance figures. How many people did your team draw to the stadium to watch a game?
1) Los Angeles Dodgers (46,492 per game)
2) St. Louis (42,567)
3) San Francisco (40,786)
4) Toronto (39,554)
5) Chicago Cubs (39.501)
6) New York Yankees (38,851)
7) Los Angeles Angels (37,279)
8) Colorado Rockies (36,465)
9) Boston Red Sox (36,021)
10) Milwaukee (31,589)
See all those big cities in the list? Sure, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are going to dominate this statistic. However, baseball's smallest market - Milwaukee - sneaks into the top 10 after what was a down year for the team in 2016. (We'll show more on that below.) That says something.
The second: Attendance per 2017 win. Even if your team wasn't a contender this year, did the fans support you?
1) San Francisco (51,620 per win)
2) Toronto (42,156)
3) St. Louis (41,541)
4) Los Angeles Angels (37,745)
5) Detroit (36,275)
6) Los Angeles Dodgers (36,210)
7) New York Mets (35,152)
8) Atlanta (34,795)
9) Chicago Cubs (34,778)
10) New York Yankees (34,582)
This was the only category where the Brewers did not make the top 10. They finished 15th in this with 29,753 fans per win - still above the median. Usually, big market teams will finish better in this category as well.
The third might be even more telling in a comparison between success and fan attendance: Attendance per 2016 win.
1) Los Angeles Dodgers (41,383 per win)
2) Los Angeles Angels (40,805)
3) St. Louis (40,092)
4) Colorado (39,382)
5) San Francisco (37,973)
6) New York Yankees (37,463)
7) Atlanta (36,841)
8) Toronto (35,999)
9) Milwaukee (35,051)
10) Minnesota (34,767)
Walk-up sales and individual game sales are typically not the lifeblood of attendance figures. Season tickets and group ticket sales normally are. The Brewers front office often sells more than half their total season attendance before Opening Day. That tends to be based on expectations of the upcoming season, which are normally a product of the performance from the season before.
Based on this, Milwaukee competes very well with the big boys. Only two teams in the top 10 had fewer wins in 2016, but Milwaukee fans still made it clear they wanted to come out and see the team play.
The fourth: Attendance per capita. This basically shows how many times a fan in your metropolitan area will attend a game.
1) Milwaukee (1.63 games per capita)
2) San Francisco (1.41)
3) Minnesota (1.30)
4) St. Louis (1.23)
5) Kansas City (1.06)
6) Colorado (1.04)
7) Cleveland (0.99)
8) Cincinnati (0.85)
9) Pittsburgh (0.82)
10) Baltimore (0.72)
Fans in Milwaukee really like to come to games. They are the only team in baseball where the average per capita fan will attend more than a game and a half per year.
How many teams made it in the top 10 in all four categories?
Only two: Those darned Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. Both finished in the top five in every category.
The Brewers are among six other franchises which reached the top 10 in three of the four categories. The others: Colorado, the L.A. Angels, L.A. Dodgers, New York Yankees and Toronto.
This shows Milwaukee truly belongs among the discussion of having some of baseball's best fans. It is a testament to loyalty through hard times, the ability for the Brewers to keep fans entertained from the moment they enter Miller Park, and the tailgate culture the Brewers have engendered for decades.
Milwaukee, you are loyal.