The final attendance counts are out and the odds outlook is in.
The numbers are in and it’s looking like 2016 season will be less conducive to foul ball grabbing overall than the 2015 season was. The reason, as the below graph shows, is because so many parks saw an increase in attendance. The entire league showed a net gain of 67 seats filled per game than in 2014 (a net gain of 162, 221 seats total).
For those of you just tuning in, there are odds calculators at http://foulballz.com/oddz-ballz/. I have taken out all stadium seats located in homerun territory, so the odds are based only on all seats located in foul territory. Due to MLB’s request for extended netting, these numbers will be adjusted once teams have extended netting or not.
The Worst Odds for Snagging Game Used Foul Balls in 2016?
I pity Dodgers fans. Every year I’ve been doing this has had the Dodgers as the team with the highest average attendance and the worst odds for the common guy and gal to snag a game foul ball.
The three parks with the worst odds for snagged a foul ball during a game remain the same pretty much every season. The 2015 season continued the pattern. Topping all other parks again is Dodger Stadium. Odds were high last season, and the Dodgers’ lack of a breakout season (they choked up a loss in the NL Division showdown to the Mets) resulted in only a modest attendance drop. The lowered attendance (the lost 216 seats over the course of the season compared to the 2014 attendance numbers) had no significant impact on the odds though; the odds of snagging a game hit foul ball remains high at 1548:1.
Busch Stadium (The Cardinals had a modest decrease of 244 seats between 2014 and 2015) and AT&T Park (The Giants saw a paltry 89 seat increase from 2014 to 2015, but enough to move them from #4 in 2014 to #3 in 2015) round out the top three worst parks in terms of the odds for catching a foul ball.
Due to an extremely loyal fan base, Cardinals fans packing into foul territory must fight one another to get a ball. Those who do beat out the rest also beat the 1448:1 odds of snagging one. Giants fans also have a rough time of it. To get a foul ball at AT&T, fans are up against 1389:1 odds.
Snag a ball in any of these three parks, and you’re a superstar…or extremely lucky.
The Best Odds for Snagging Game Used Foul Balls in 2016?
Want to avoid Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants games and have the best odds of snagging a foul ball during a game? The bottom three (or those parks giving you the best chances of snagging a ball) are Tropicana, Progressive and Marlin Park.
These three tend to be in the bottom five most seasons too. They are perennial favorites in that respect.
If you’re in Florida, it may be worth the four hour drive between Marlin Park and Tropicana. The Tampa Bay Rays have the worst attendance numbers. They lost 2536 seats between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. As a result, they dropped from 29 to 30, and the odds of snagging a ball—though you might have to run a few sections to get it—are at 510:1.
The Indians have had a rough go of it lately. They’ve seen their attendance drop significantly over the last couple of seasons. Between 2014 and 2015 they only lost a marginal 339 seats, but given they aren’t even averaging 18000 per game attendance, the odds haven’t changed much, and are at 578:1 for the 2016 season based on the 2015 attendance numbers.
Marlin Park rounds out the bottom three. The Marlins saw a 246 seat increase average, but that doesn’t move them up in the odds by much. To snag a game-used foul ball at a Marlins home game means you beat the 720:1 odds.
A very close competitor for the best odds for catching a foul are the White Sox. The team filled 1296 more seats last season, but the odds are still pretty god at 721:1. Chicago would be worth a trip. If you DO go to Chicago wanting to have the best odds, then do not go to Wrigley. The odds there are 1217:1, largely due to the solid season the Cubs had.
Want to improve your chances in your favorite ballpark?
Sit in the lower levels. Of the 47 foul balls hit during the typical MLB game, and the 25 or so that find their way into the stands, most will find their way into the lower levels. To increase your chances of being smoked by a foul or a fan going after a foul ball, sit behind or within a section of either dugout. These are hot zones. They also tend to have the highest density of fans, thus the most competition for balls).
The good news for baseball fans of all teams is that MLB saw a huge overall jump in attendance. Fans are finally returning to the American Pastime. While the overall net gain of 67 seats per team per game is hardly notable, there was a 162000 total increase. That’s nearly three full games at Dodger Stadium. Welcome back baseball fans!
As a reminder: PAY ATTENTION! Foul balls, contrary to myth, aren’t coming at you at an average 100 MPH. It’s important to remember too that the average human response time at the typical distance fans are from the batter is plenty of time when a fan is paying attention. Still, accidents do happen. I recommend bringing a glove, even if that means getting teased. It’s better to be safe than injured.