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Opening Day 2017; Fun stats and other useless information



Happy Opening day!

Here’s my recurring “Opening Day” trivia/useless information post.  Here was 2016’s version,  2015, 2014 and 2013.  I also reference many Google XLS/Google Doc creations with historical data below, all of which have been updated for 2017.

Nats 2017 Opening day Payroll:

Why are these values different?   Cots and USA today disagree on Strasburg’s 2017 salary to the tune of about $2M, and that’s about the difference between their two figures.   My XLS counts all salaries in *current dollars* only, as opposed to the salary cap figures that USA Today and Cots do (Cots also splits out the signing bonuses prorated to each year of the contract).  Plus I count in payments to former players (in our case, Petit and Norris).  I believe this is a better representation of how the team and the Lerners see their payroll.  Teams that have huge payments to former players (like the Dodgers and Padres) should absolutely have those “dead money” payments included.  Roughly speaking, Strasburg and Scherzer both are getting $15M in current dollars but more than $40M combined in these claculations, which is a huge part of the delta between my XLS and Cots’.

Oh, by the way, the Nats now have $199 MILLION dollars of deferred payments on the books when adding in Blanton’s (mostly) deferred salary.

Opening Day Payroll; MLB wide

See this link for the list of all team payrolls at USA Today.  And Here’s Cot’s/Baseball Prospectus’ compensation home page.

I’ve put both of these lists side by side into this little handy Payroll XLS to demonstrate how ridiculously bad the USA Today figures are.  They’re off by $35M for the Padres and by $53M for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Thats because the USA Today figures don’t account for any salaries being paid for former players, which in the modern game has more and more become a standard.  So, basically I ignore USA Today’s figures and always use Cot’s.

The Dodgers continue to lead the way (by either measure).  The Brewers are now dead last, just ahead of the purposely tanking Padres.  You may have seen posts that noted that Clayton Kershaw gets paid more this year than the Padres entire 25-man roster, and that’s true, but it ignores the $30M+ of dead money on their payroll.

The Nats are 9th on both lists.  Imagine what we could spend with a market value RSN!!



Home Openers Information

Opening Day 2017 attendance was announced at 42,744 .  That’s up more than a thousand from last year.  Here’s all our home openers in order with attendance, time of game, weather:

  • 2017: 42,744 (1:05 monday game, 66 and cloudy)
  • 2016: 41,650 (4:05 thursday game, 60 and 1.5hr rain delay)
  • 2015: 42,295 (4:05 monday game, 75 and gorgeous)
  • 2014: 42,834 (1:05 friday game, 50s and overcast)
  • 2013: 45,274 (1:05 monday game, 60 and beautiful)
  • 2012: 40,907 (1:05 thursday game 56, partly cloudy)
  • 2011: 39,055 (1:05 thursday game, 41 degrees and overcast)
  • 2010: 41,290 (1pm game monday, beautiful weather 80s and sunny): Phillies invasion
  • 2009: 40,386 (3pm game on a monday, chilly 53degr and overcast)
  • 2008: 39,389 (season and stadium opener), 8pm sunday night, Braves, nat’l tv clear but cold.
  • 2007: 40,389 (in rfk, 1pm game vs Florida, 72degrees
  • 2006: 40,516 (in rfk, tuesday day game vs Mets, 72degr and sunny)
  • 2005: 45,596 (in rfk, debut of entire franchise, 62degr and clear, evening game).

Here’s some attendance milestones for the franchise:

  • Nats park capacity for 2017 somewhere between 41,506 and 41,546 depending on your source.
  • 2013’s opening day attendance of 45,274 remains the regular season record attendance.
  • All time record attendance?  The ill-fated 2012 NLDS game 5: 45,966.  No playoff games in 2014 or 2016 came close.
  • The first game in franchise history; 2005 in RFK: 45,596, which stood until the 2012 NLDS record-setting game.
  • The long-running regular season attendance record was the great Fathers day 2006 game in RFK against the Yankees: 45,157.  That record stood for more than 6 years.

Home Openers Box Scores and Results

Nats are 5-8 in their home openers now since moving to Washington.  Stephen Strasburg‘s 2017 start joins him with Livan Hernandez as the only two pitchers to throw more than one home opener for this team.  When Livan gets elected to Cooperstown, I hope he’s wearing the curly W.  🙂

  • 2017; Nats d Marlins 4-2.  WP: Strasburg, LP Phelps (Starters: Strasburg and Volquez)
  • 2016: Marlins d Nats 6-4.  WP: David Phelps, LP Tanner Roark (Starters: Brian Conley and Roark).
  • 2015: Mets d Nats 3-1.  WP: Bartolo Colon.  LP: Max Scherzer
  • 2014: or  Braves d Nats 2-1.  WP: Luis Avilan.  LP: Tyler Clippard.  (Starters: Jordan Zimmermann and David Hale).
  • 2013: or  Nats d Marlins 2-0.  WP: Stephen Strasburg.  LP: Ricky Nolasco
  • 2012:  Nats d Reds 3-2.  WP: Craig Stammen. LP: Alfredo Simon (Starters: Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos)
  • 2011:  Braves d Nats 2-0.  WP: Derek Lowe.  LP: Livan Hernandez
  • 2010:  Phillies d Nats 11-1.  WP: Roy Halladay.  LP: John Lannan
  • 2009:  Phillies d Nats 9-8.  WP: Jamie Moyer.  LP: Saul Rivera (Nats Starter: Daniel Cabrera)
  • 2008:  Nats d Braves 3-2.  WP: Jon Rauch.  LP: Peter Moylan (Starters: Tim Hudson and Odalis Perez)
  • 2007:  Marlins d Nats 9-2.  WP: Dontrelle Willis.  LP: John Patterson
  • 2006:  Mets d Nats 7-1.  WP: Brian Bannister.  LP: Ramon Ortiz
  • 2005:  Nats beat Arizona 5-3. WP: Livan Hernandez. LP: Javier Vazquez

How about Season openers?

Record: 6-7.  # times home/away: 7 home, 6 away.

The Nats managed to lose 6 of their first 7 season openers … only winning in 2008 when debuting their new stadium.  And Jon Rauch did his darndest to blow that opener too, coughing up the lead in the 9th to give Ryan Zimmerman a chance at glory.

Opening Day Starter Trivia

Here’s my Opening Day starters worksheet in Google docs, updated for the 2017 slate.  Here’s the answer to some fun Opening Day Starter trivia:

  • Leader in Opening day starts: remains C.C. Sabathia with 11, though he’s not extending his record and will be caught next  year.
  • Leader in consecutive opening day starts: Felix Hernandez, making his 9th consecutive, 10th overall.
  • Justin Verlander returned to Opening Day duties, getting his 9th career opening day start; he remains in 3rd place actively.
  • Clayton Kershaw now has seven straight and may be in a position to challenge the all time records.
  • For the Nats; Stephen Strasburg gets his fourth.  Max Scherzer has two.  John Lannan, now back as a submarining lefty in AAA, also has two.
  • Twelve (12) pitchers made their first career opening day start in 2017, including (surprisingly) Yu Darvish.
  • Edinson Volquez got his 5th career opening day start … on four different teams.
  • The Mets have now used 7 different opening day starters in the last 7 seasons.  But that pales in comparison to what’s going on in Texas: 9 straight different opening day starters there.   Miami has used 6 different guys in a row and there’s a few other teams that have used 4 or 5 different guys over the last 4-5 seasons.
  • The most ever?  Tom Seaver with 16.  The most consecutive?  Jack Morris with 14.

15 Responses to 'Opening Day 2017; Fun stats and other useless information'

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  1. Nats’ deferred salary: would you rather Ted’s estate go to his kids, or to Max, Stras, . . . and Harper? My understanding is that there’s plenty to go around.

    I’m sorry, but the Mets don’t have a $176M team. They just don’t. Their best pitchers are still under team control. Cespedes is the only FA they’ve got worth anywhere near what they’re paying him.


    4 Apr 17 at 2:56 pm

  2. Yet another reason to ignore USA Today’s calculations: they ommitted the $21M that Colorado is paying the Mets to take Reyes off their hands.

    Totally agree; for all that complain about the money we’re paying Werth and Zimmerman, look at the top end of the Mets. Cespedes worth his $22.5M, But Reyes at 22M, Wright at $20M, Walker on a QO $17.2M, Granderson on $15M and Bruce at $13M all seem like vast overpays.

    Todd Boss

    4 Apr 17 at 3:01 pm

  3. Attendance may have been up slightly for the opener, but the seating area was definitely NOT sold out. There were considerable gaps on both sides in the outfield portion of the upper deck. They must have sold a lot of SRO tickets on the outfield concourse, and many of those sales were likely walk up purchases due to it being such a nice day.

    Meanwhile, parking costs just keep going up as more lots around the stadium are being built upon. The usual lot I use on the west side of South Capital Street was $50 yesterday, up from $30 last season and just $15 four years ago. I expect that price will probably drop back a bit for the rest of the regular season, but it illustrates one of the reasons the Nats are having trouble boosting attendance beyond 2.6 million despite having a good time six years running. Most suburbanites drive to the stadium, and now they have to factor in parking as a real cost when they go.

    Karl Kolchak

    4 Apr 17 at 8:33 pm

  4. I was talking with someone yesterday about this exact topic. When I lived in Arlington, it was easy to get to the stadium. Now that I live in Vienna/Reston … forget it. Metro is 100% unreliable, no parking, ridiculously difficult to get to the stadium on surface streets or via I395.

    For me it really comes down to the Metro. Yeah I can get on at Weihle … and guarantee myself a ridiculous commute there and an even worse one home. Literally every time i’ve gotten on the metro in the last 5 years, its been a track issue, single track, work, a crash, an incident, something. 2 hours home after a Nats game on a week night. Ridiculous! Imagine if I tried to take my kid! That’s what is holding things back. They put the stadium in the city knowing parking would be limited so they NEED the Metro to be better.

    You know what i’d like to see? A demographic breakdown of Nats fans and where they come from. I don’t mean to generalize … but nobody lives in the district proper. Everyone lives in the suburbs. So all their fans are dealing with a “commute” to get to the park AFTER dealing with a commute to get to work and to get home that day. Its too much. For all the angst people have about the Atlanta stadium situation … aren’t they doing exactly what they need to do to get the stadium and the games closer to their fan base? If some huge percentage of Nats fans live in Fairfax/Loudoun county (for example; it probably isn’t the case), would it make more sense for the team to have its stadium out near Dulles Airport?

    Todd Boss

    5 Apr 17 at 10:23 am

  5. Todd, I’d like to see the same breakdown. I assure you that you’re wrong about nobody who goes to the games living in the District. I, for one, go to ~20 games a year and live in the District. The population of the District proper has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years (I suspect but do not know that the growth rate is higher than the growth rate in the suburbs). I see crowded Metro trains after Nats games with lots of fans getting off at places like Shaw, U Street, Columbia Heights, Petworth. And a lot of Nats fans live by the ballpark or nearby on Capitol Hill. This is all casual empiricism – we need real data to know anything.

    I don’t know what the overall percentage of fans most nights come from the District vs. the suburbs, but I suspect that a fairly high percentage of the beer-buying fans (21-35) come from the District compared to the suburbs because most of the growth in the District population is from that demo.

    Regardless, I agree that Metro sucks and needs to be better. It sucks a whole lot less for those of us in the District compared to those in the suburbs, but it still sucks.


    5 Apr 17 at 11:01 am

  6. Todd–Just from my observation as someone who attends 18-20 games per year, the fan base looks much different on weeknights than it does on weekends (with the exception of the “businessmen special” day games). During the week the adults in the crowd are much younger but have far fewer kids with them. Most seem to be young professionals who likely work/live in or very near the city. On weekends, the suburbanites seem to dominate as the adults are closer to middle age and there are far more kids.

    As for Atlanta, the real problem there as I understand it is that the traffic situation is a nightmare even out in the suburbs because they didn’t allow public transport to connect beyond the city. Then you have the fact that a majority of the locals did not want the stadium, and certainly didn’t want their tax dollars paying for it, yet it was rammed down their throats anyway.

    I think you hit the nail right on the head as to the real problem for the Nats–the friggin’ Metro. It’s a disaster for everyone and a total embarrassment to the region, and I think it is really killing the Nats. Beyond what you just cited, it is unbelievable that fans sometimes have to leave games early because the Metro shuts down. The deteriorating condition of the system should have been a factor in deciding where to put the stadium, but that’s all water under the bridge now. Maybe Uncle Teddy should give them a half billion dollars to help make it first rate as a long term investment in the team.

    Incidentally, I live in Oakton near the Vienna Metero, but my wife and I mostly gave up on Metro as a way of going to the games a few years ago. I’ve found that parking on the west side of South Capital Street, leaving after the 8th inning and driving past the Waterfront to get to I-395 usually allows us to get home in decent time.

    Karl Kolchak

    5 Apr 17 at 11:05 am

  7. There’s a lot to what all of you are saying. I’m also in the ‘burbs, and there’s no easy way to get there without Metro (NO WAY to $50 parking!!!), but there’s no easy way to get there WITH Metro, either. Plus as Todd notes, it takes forever to get home. I know plenty of people do it, but it’s hard, particularly on week nights for working stiffs.

    Are the Nats missing out on suburban attendance? Yes, undoubtedly. Is there an easy way for the issue to be rectified? Not one that I’m aware.

    Things may be even worse for the new soccer stadium, which is being built just east of Fort McNair. My understanding is that they are building no parking for it (even though it’s going to bear the name of an auto maker!). It’s a hike from there from either the Waterfront or Navy Yard Metro stops. The only parking of which I’m aware is that around Nats Park, and there’s a sketchy neighborhood between the stadium and the parking (and the stadium and the Navy Yard Metro). (The arena for the Mystics in Anacostia makes even less sense, although there should be plenty of area for parking.)

    I get that the stadiums and related development are a big positive for SW DC. But if they’re going to do the development, they need to figure out ways to make it more accessible for a wider audience.

    However, . . . in this day and age, does any team really care about attendance? Yeah, they make good money off the corporate suites and boxes, but the money they make off general seating is chump change for their operations. The real money is in TV revenue, naming rights, etc. (two things the Nats have yet to master).

    As for Atlanta, Fulton County Stadium was always in a bad part of town, and not close to the more affluent northern suburbs. Building the Olympic stadium/Turner Field in the same spot just doubled down on the problem. I hate the con of using public money to build any stadium, and they have no justification to replace a venue that’s only 20 years old, but they probably make a smart decision for where they put the new stadium.


    5 Apr 17 at 11:27 am

  8. OK, back to talking baseball. Other than playing each other in two series, the Nats and the Mets both have easy April schedules fueled by the rest of the NL East. In fact, the Mets play no team outside the East. The Nats have three at home with the Cards next week and four at dreaded Coors Field later in the month. The pennant won’t be won in April, but the pursuit could become more uphill if the Nats (or Mets) don’t truly dominate the weaker members of the division and at least hold serve against each other.


    5 Apr 17 at 12:47 pm

  9. (my apologies for the hyperbolic “nobody lives the district” comment; i was worked up). But it does go towards my larger point. What is the fan base the team is trying to get? Is it younger district-residing adults who can do mid-week games with their buddies and have a few beers? Is it the weekend nuclear family of 4 who drops $300 for a once-or-twice a year trip? Is it the corporate types who buy up all the best season tickets and suites and just dole them out to customers?

    What percentage of the nightly tickets go to STHs versus walk ups?

    Remember the old ads for the Wizards, “your day is over but your night is just beginning” (paraphrasing) as an argument to get peopel to stay in the city after work to go to events? I wonder if that’s not a huge part of the argument. I don’t work in the city … so I don’t go to mid-week games. When i lived in Arlington (rosslyn) we’d go to mid-week games ALL the time and even then it was 45mins to drive there.

    Todd Boss

    5 Apr 17 at 1:27 pm

  10. In a related note on how baseball is losing fandom:

    Only a little mention of Bryce, and I’m OK with that. But I’m also OK with the Bryce promotion more than many around here are. And frankly, Bryce has more charisma than Bryant and Trout put together. He just needs to win a World Series . . . or two.

    I can count on my fingers the number of games I’ve seen Trout play. It’s not just that he’s on the West Coast, and on the suburban team, it’s that MLB/Fox/ESPN do little to show his games in times where they’ll be seen on the East Coast; highlights the next morning, yes, but games, no. Contrast that to how often the basketball team from Oakland (Oakland!) is on our airwaves in reasonable viewing hours. They’ve even managed to produce multiple superstars in OKC, although one left for greener pastures . . . in Oakland.


    5 Apr 17 at 2:44 pm

  11. Mike Trout would be bigger than ARod and Jeter put together if he played in New York.

    Todd Boss

    5 Apr 17 at 3:50 pm

  12. KW–I’m completely down with Bryce promotion for reasons I mentioned earlier. If they re-sign him and promote him the right way, he could make the Nats one of the most popular teams in the sport. Weird that we live in a hyper-celebrity age, but MLB had far more recognizable stars 30 and 40 years ago.

    It’s the stupid “old school” mentality and all the dumb unwritten rules that are hurting the sport’s popularity. Young players aren’t allowed to show any personality, the way they are in the NBA in particular. Instead it’s flip a bat, get a beanball in the ribs–try to act as a team leader when you’re only 22 and get told to STFU even though you’re already the best player on the team. Even the No Fun League is smart enough to realize that a first round draft pick, rookie QB is often a football team’s most marketable commodity.

    Karl Kolchak

    5 Apr 17 at 6:20 pm

  13. People call the NFL the No Fun League, but the self-appointed keepers of MLB tradition have been hounding Bryce since he was in the minors. (Let’s call it the “Papelbon Syndrome.”) Sure, Bryce has gone too far a few times, but by all accounts he’s a good kid who respects the history of the game tremendously. He would have been the perfect vehicle to Make Baseball Fun Again, but he’s been put down so much for so long that at some point he has to think, “Why bother?” I don’t think the critics have broken his spirit, but they have made a negative in a lot of people’s minds of joy in playing the game that has been celebrated to great effect in guys like Steph Curry.


    5 Apr 17 at 8:15 pm

  14. After two games, the Nats are the only undefeated team left in the NL. 162 and Oh, baby! The Mets had to burn through seven relievers yesterday in a 12-inning loss to the Braves.


    6 Apr 17 at 5:28 am

  15. Lack of baseball player stardom: I think it comes down to several issues right now:

    1. there’s no marketable star on the Yankees. Think about the role Jeter played, and the press A-Rod got while he was there. Now? Who is the best/most famous player on the Yankees? Aroldis Chapman maybe? He of the domestic violence past. Not a good look.
    2. A good number of the game’s marquee players are just not constantly in front of the major media centers of the sport (NY, Boston). Many top stars now play in the west coast, so the East coast press is asleep while they’re dominating. I’m thinking of guys like Kershaw, Trout, Bumgarner, Cano, Goldschmidt, Arenado, Posey. Several more guys play in central TZ places like Chicago and Texas, so they get the same treatment to a certain extent (thinking guys like Bryant, Lester, Altuve/Correia, Sale until this year, Arrieta, Beltre).
    3. There’s more than a few really good players now who play in the smallest markets in the league, places/player combos like Cincinnati (Votto), Pittsburgh (McCutchen), Detroit (Cabrera), Baltimore (Machado). Or they play in Toronto … which is a major market but in the wrong country (Bautista, Encarnacion til this year, Donaldson).
    4. Lastly, and this may be a controversial take … but now that David Ortiz is retired, can you think of a Latin player who is a “face of the franchise” type who speaks english well enough to do commercials or to be in a position like that? Here’s the DR WBC 2017 roster: tons of talent, but who is a marketable star there? Beltre, Cano, Machado, Bautista, Cruz, Marte all great players. Who there is someone that the bulk of america (aka “white” people) can get behind as a national star?

    MLB has a number of young, up and coming players who should appeal to the bulk of the US. Harper, Trout, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Snydergaard, Bryant. But they’re not. And … if you look at that list of marquee American players … NOT ONE of them played in the WBC for our team. Just dumb, a missed opportunity.

    Todd Boss

    6 Apr 17 at 10:22 am

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