Baseball’s most and least expensive playoff tickets

24/7 Wall St.
Matt Guden, center, and Marcus Hunter paint a postseason logo on the infield at Progressive Field in Cleveland Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. The Cleveland Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card baseball game Wednesday night, with the winner advancing to the divisional series against the Boston Red Sox. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Well-traveled Rays in Cleveland to face Indians

Matt Guden, center, and Marcus Hunter paint a postseason logo on the infield at Progressive Field in Cleveland Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. The Cleveland Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card baseball game Wednesday night, with the winner advancing to the divisional series against the Boston Red Sox. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

With Major League Baseball’s postseason set to start, fans of the 10 teams still in contention for a World Series title are scooping up tickets. But with a limited number of games and high demand, ticket buyers must pay a hefty premium for postseason seats.

TiqIQ determined how much the average postseason ticket costs, both in dollars and as a premium relative to regular season prices. On average, tickets for the National League Division Series are nearly twice as expensive as in the regular season. In the American League, they are more than two and a half times as costly. Tickets for a Cleveland Indians game during the Division Series cost nearly 700 percent more than the regular season.

The enthusiasm of a team’s fanbase, TiqIQ’s Jesse Lawrence explained, often drives up how much the team is able to charge in the postseason. Boston has some of the most fervent fans in sports, Lawrence said, which helps boost Fenway’s prices considerably. Adding to the demand, he noted, “It has been six years since Boston won the World Series. Fans are rushing back in, especially after last year, which was a disaster. Now, they’re one of the favorites to win the World Series. I think that level of enthusiasm has really driven up prices.”

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While baseball’s big names do not drive fans to games in the same way as in other sports, such as basketball, Lawrence noted that star players can still increase fan excitement and therefore ticket premiums for postseason baseball. Dodgers’ rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig’s meteoric rise to stardom has likely contributed to fans’ enthusiasm this season, Lawrence added.

A team’s fanbase will often pay a larger premium in the postseason when it has lacked success for a long time. The Pittsburgh Pirates last made the postseason 21 years ago, and fans will pay a massive premium to watch a postseason game. Cleveland, which has the highest premium in the postseason, hasn’t won a World Series since 1948.

While fans may be willing to pay these prices to watch their teams play postseason games, unfortunately, many won’t be able to go to the games. Under baseball’s current format, there are four Wild Card teams, yet only two will advance beyond the single-elimination game held in each league. Fans of the two teams hosting Wild Card games, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, will have to pay premiums of 281 percent and 427 percent, respectively, to attend these games.

While fan enthusiasm plays a major role in setting the ticket prices, the availability of seats is also an important factor. “It’s an issue of simple supply and demand,” explained Lawrence. “If you increase demand on top of constricted supply, prices go up.” Boston and Pittsburgh, two of the teams charging the highest average dollar amount for Division Series games, have fairly small stadiums, with a total capacity of under 40,000 seats each.

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Using data provided by TiqIQ, 24/7 Wall St. compared the premiums for the average Division Series ticket to that team’s regular season ticket price. All prices are as of October 1. Not all teams selling Division Series tickets will advance past their league’s Wild Card game to the next round. In addition, we reviewed stadium capacity, average home attendance, and win-loss records for the regular season, all obtained from ESPN. Previous postseason records came from All price estimates are subject to change.

10. Detroit Tigers
Premium: 70%
Division Series avg. price: $103
W-L record: 93-69 (6th best)
Last World Series appearance: 2012

The Detroit Tigers were swept out of the 2012 World Series by the San Francisco Giants, losing every game and posting a batting average of just .159. This year, the team won its division for the third consecutive season behind third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who is possibly the best hitter in baseball today and may soon win his second consecutive MVP award. Tickets to go to the team’s Division Series games will cost just over $100 on average, only a 70-percent premium to the average regular season ticket price. The team’s continued uccess may partly be the reason for the fairly low premium. TiqIQ’s Lawrence noted that teams with a longer postseason track record tend to charge lower premiums than newcomers.

9. Atlanta Braves
Premium: 103%
Division Series avg. price: $106
W-L record: 96-66 (3rd best)
Last World Series appearance: 1999

In past years, the Atlanta Braves were regular contenders, winning their division in every year between 1995 and 2005. But since then, the team has frequently missed the postseason. This year, the team overcame injuries to several key players to win the NL East title for the first time in eight years. Despite the team’s success, fans have not been especially interested. Just over 63 percent of Turner Field’s seating capacity was filled at an average game, ranking 21st out of 30 teams.

8. St. Louis Cardinals
Premium: 114%
Division Series avg. price: $124
W-L record: 97-65 (tied-the best)
Last World Series appearance: 2011

The Cardinals came within one strike of losing the 2011 World Series, only to turn around and win the series in the decisive Game 7. But following their victory, the Cardinals lost star first baseman Albert Pujols – one of the best players in their history – to the Los Angeles Angels. Longtime manager Tony La Russa also left the team, deciding to retire. But even without their star player and former manager, the Cardinals have made the postseason for two straight years. The fans remain deeply loyal as well. Only one other team, the San Francisco Giants, filled a higher percentage of seats during the 2013 season.

7. Tampa Bay Rays
Premium: 185%
Division Series avg. price: $154
W-L record: 92-71 (9th best)
Last World Series appearance: 2008

The Rays return to October baseball for the fourth time in six years after defeating the Texas Rangers in a one-game tiebreaker. Unfortunately, for all the team’s new-found success, fans have never really caught on. The Rays finished last in attendance for the 2013 season, with an average of just 18,645 fans per game, failing to fill even 55 percent of their seats. However, the team will be able to boost prices somewhat for fans flocking to catch the Rays play deeper into the fall. The price of a ticket is slated to rise 185 percent from the regular season average should the Rays advance to the Division Series.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers
Premium: 213%
Division Series avg. price: $168
W-L record: 92-70 (7th best)
Last World Series appearance: 1988

The Los Angeles Dodgers started the year with the highest payroll in the National League but had a losing record for much of the year. Eventually, however, the team turned around its performance to clinch the NL West title, with Cuban rookie Yasiel Puig receiving much of the credit for the team’s stunning reversal. TiqIQ’s Lawrence says Puig was responsible for driving fans to attend games, comparing fans’ excitement for the outfielder to “Fernandomania” – the enthusiasm over Venezuelan pitcher Fernando Valenzuela in the early 1980s. The Dodgers filled over 82 percent of seats at home games this year, and led the MLB in drawing fans at away games.

5. Oakland Athletics
Premium: 203%
Division Series avg. price: $167
W-L record: 96-66 (tied-3rd best)
Last World Series appearance: 1990

The Oakland A’s had one of the best records in baseball in 2013, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the game. Similarly, in 2012 the A’s made the postseason with the lowest payroll in all of baseball. The team’s manager, Billy Beane, has become so successful at producing results without star players or a large budget that a book and movie – both titled “Moneyball” – have documented his success. But despite the team’s use of advanced statistical analysis and its ability to find players who deliver value at a low price, Oakland continues to struggle to draw fans. Just under 64 percent of the stadium’s capacity was filled for the average home game, less than half of all teams. The stadium, O.Co Coliseum, was recently referred to as “a pit” by commissioner Bud Selig, and raw sewage has flooded the stadium’s dugouts twice this season.

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4. Boston Red Sox
Premium: 227%
Division Series avg. price: $329
W-L record: 97-65 (tied-the best)
Last World Series appearance: 2007

After a sustained run of successes that included two World Series titles during the last decade, the Red Sox missed the postseason for three straight years from 2010 to 2012. The team finished last year with the worst record in the AL East. Following that, the team let go of its second manager in two years and also traded three of its top players. The Red Sox then rebounded to post the best win-loss record in baseball this year, tied with the Cardinals. Fans are willing to pay to see their team’s newly rediscovered success. No team has a higher average ticket price for the Division Series than the Boston Red Sox, whose fans will pay $329 per seat. This is a premium of 227 percent over the regular season ticket price. Regular season prices were also quite high this year, with the average ticket costing more than $100 – partly due to Fenway Park’s low capacity of just over 37,000 seats.

3. Cincinnati Reds
Premium: 234%
Division Series avg. price: $150
W-L record: 90-72 (11th best)
Last World Series appearance: 1990

This year marks the third time time in four years that the Cincinnati Reds have made the postseason. While the Reds charged less than any other postseason team for regular season games, Division Series tickets will be far more expensive. The average ticket price is expected to rise by more than 234 percent over the regular season ticket. While three teams from the NL Central will go to the postseason this year – Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis – Cincinnati did not win its division, and so must play Pittsburgh in a single-elimination Wild Card game tonight.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates
Premium: 532%
Division Series avg. price: $322
W-L record: 94-68 (5th best)
Last World Series appearance: 1979

Pittsburgh is slated to go to the postseason for the first time since 1992, and fans are willing to pay for the rare opportunity to see their team contend. The average ticket price for the Division Series is expected to be 532 percent higher than the average price for a ticket in the regular season, rising from $51 to $322. The team came fairly close to breaking the drought in recent years, but a disappointing end to its 2011 season, followed by a monumental collapse towards the end of the season last year, dashed those hopes. However, the combination of new players, and the development of the team’s own talent, were among the factors that helped Pittsburgh finally make the postseason this year.

1. Cleveland Indians
Premium: 697%
Division Series avg. price: $461
W-L record: 92-70 (7th best)
Last World Series appearance: 1997

The Indians were perhaps the biggest postseason surprise – peeling off 10 straight wins to end the 2013 campaign, just enough to push them into a Wild Card slot. Cleveland fans are clearly excited to see their team play. Tickets for the Division Series are priced at a nearly 700 percent premium to the team’s average regular season price – by far the most of any team. Between 2000 and 2012, the Indians made the postseason just twice, with their last appearance coming in 2007. Fans lost some interest in an often mediocre team during that time as well. While the Indians had a streak of 455 straight sellouts between 1995 and 2001, they were the single worst team in baseball at filling seat capacity this year, selling barely 45 percent of their tickets.

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