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MLB records strong year on attendance front

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It was a good year for Major League Baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies: MLB recorded the fifth-highest attendance in its history, while the Phillies led baseball in attendance for the first time.

This year's total of 73,425,568 was the most since the 2008 season (78,588,004) and was 0.5 percent greater than last year's total of 73,054,407, which included six more games played (2,424) than this season (2,418).

Put together, the last eight years make up the eight best-attended seasons in the history of Major League Baseball, including four record-breaking years. Eighteen franchises finished the 2011 season with an increase over their 2010 total attendance, with nine teams drawing more than three million fans.

As mentioned, it was a good year for the Phillies, who led MLB teams in overall and average attendance with franchise records of 3,680,718 total fans and a per-game average of 45,441 at Citizens Bank Park, which has now hosted 204 consecutive regular season sellouts. The New York Yankees paced the American League with 3,653,680 fans, averaging 45,107 fans per game at Yankee Stadium.

"Major League Baseball is grateful to all of the loyal fans who filled our ballparks in such remarkable numbers this year and witnessed a historic final night of the season," said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. "The resiliency of our sport never ceases to amaze. Earning the fifth highest attendance in history amid such challenging economic times reaffirms the incredible passion and enthusiasm of the fans of our national pastime. There is no doubt that this sport is more popular today than it has ever been in its long, storied history."

Here's a listing of the attendance, ranked by average:

  TEAM TOTAL GMS AV.  2010 CH.
1 Philadelphia Phillies 3,680,718 81 45,440 45,027 0.01
2 New York Yankees 3,653,680 81 45,107 46,491 -0.03
3 San Francisco Giants 3,387,303 81 41,818 37,499 0.12
4 Minnesota Twins 3,168,107 81 39,112 39,798 -0.02
5 Los Angeles Angels 3,166,321 81 39,090 40,122 -0.03
6 St. Louis Cardinals 3,093,954 81 38,196 40,755 -0.06
7 Milwaukee Brewers 3,071,373 81 37,918 34,278 0.11
8 Boston Red Sox 3,054,001 81 37,703 37,610 0.00
9 Chicago Cubs 3,017,966 81 37,258 37,814 -0.01
10 Texas Rangers 2,946,949 81 36,382 30,928 0.18
11 Los Angeles Dodgers 2,935,139 81 36,236 43,979 -0.18
12 Colorado Rockies 2,900,777 81 35,923 35,940 0.00
13 Detroit Tigers 2,642,045 81 32,617 30,385 0.07
14 New York Mets 2,378,549 79 30,108 32,401 -0.07
15 Atlanta Braves 2,372,940 79 30,037 30,989 -0.03
16 Cincinnati Reds 2,213,498 81 27,327 25,438 0.07
17 San Diego Padres 2,143,018 81 26,457 26,318 0.01
18 Arizona Diamondbacks 2,105,432 81 25,992 25,394 0.02
19 Houston Astros 2,067,016 81 25,518 28,783 -0.11
20 Washington Nationals 1,940,478 78 24,877 22,568 0.10
21 Chicago White Sox 2,001,117 81 24,705 27,091 -0.09
22 Pittsburgh Pirates 1,940,429 80 25,255 19,918 0.22
23 Seattle Mariners 1,896,321 81 23,411 25,746 -0.09
24 Cleveland Indians 1,840,835 81 22,726 17,435 0.30
25 Toronto Blue Jays 1,818,103 81 22,445 20,068 0.12
26 Baltimore Orioles 1,755,461 80 21,943 21,662 0.01
27 Kansas City Royals 1,724,450 81 21,289 20,191 0.05
28 Florida Marlins 1,520,562 80 19,007 18,953 0.00
29 Tampa Bay Rays 1,529,168 81 18,878 22,758  -0.17
30 Oakland Athletics 1,476,792 81 18,232 17,511  0.04

As you can see, some pretty obvious winners and losers. Winners were teams down in the dumps for several years who emerged as contenders this season: Cleveland, Toronto, Washington and Pittsburgh. All four clubs have been struggling as part of rebuilding phases; this year the rebuilding paid off for all four.

Losers: the Los Angeles Dodgers with their well-documented problems in the front office; Tampa Bay, showing that a team can take a hit at the current ballpark while crusading for a new ballpark; and the Houston Astros, showing that a 100-loss team will struggle to attract fans.

Remember: this is reported attendance, not actual attendance. There's a separate set of books tracking the actual turnstile counts.

RELATED STORIES: 2011 Baseball Attendance by Average; 2011 Affiliated Attendance by Average; 2011 Affiliated Attendance by League; 2011 Affiliated Attendance by Total; 2011 Independent Attendance by Average; 2011 Independent Attendance by Total; 2011 Independent Average Attendance by League; 2011 Summer-Collegiate Attendance by Average; 2011 Summer-Collegiate Attendance by Total; 2011 Summer-Collegiate Attendance by League

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