PhotoAs the cry "play ball" is heard throughout the land, some teams will be opening to packed stadiums while others will come close to playing alone.

Which team has the most loyal fans? The answer comes from the 23rd annual Brand Keys, Inc., Sports Fan Loyalty survey. 

The index was designed to help professional sports team management identify precise fan loyalty rankings in their home and national markets, by providing metrics that correlate very highly with game viewership and purchase of licensed merchandise.

Via interviews with 250 self-declared fans in each team’s local catchment area, the survey provides insights that enable league and team management to identify areas, particularly emotional ones, that need strategic brand coaching.

Without further ado, here at the winners ...

2015 Top 5 Teams2014 Ranking
1. St. Louis Cardinals#1
2. San Francisco Giants#5
3. Los Angeles Dodgers#6
4. Detroit Tigers#6 (tie)
5. Washington Nationals#8

And the teams that could use a little help ...

Cellar Dwellers 20152014 Ranking
30. Houston Astros#30
29. Arizona Diamondbacks#21
28. Colorado Rockies#26
27. New York Mets#22
26. Texas Rangers#19

Not just win/loss

“Everybody loves a winner, but it's important to note that win/loss ratios only govern about 20% of fan loyalty,” said Robert Passikoff, president, Brand Keys. “Losing may have little to recommend it, but as it turns out ultimately there are more leveragable things than the final score – three other emotionally-based things, in fact, have to be taken into account when calculating the loyalty score for a team:

Pure Entertainment
How well a team does. But even more important than a win-loss ratio, how exciting is their play? Think St. Louis Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates (#13, up from #23 last year).

How well they play as a team –offensively or defensively. A new stadium and, often, new managers, can help lift this driver. Look at the Detroit Tigers.

Fan Bonding
Are players respected and admired? Like Buster Posy of the Giants or the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

History and Tradition
Is the game and the team part of community rituals, institutions, and beliefs? No matter how you feel personally, the Yankees (#7, down from #6 last year) have the highest rating when it comes to History and Tradition and, for what it’s worth, that’s what keeps the Cubs (#16) going!

"“All teams can benefit from increased fan loyalty levels, but as baseball is traditionally called America's 'National Pastime,' there should be a real emotional connection for the fans,"” added Brand Keys'’ Passikoff.” "And it's worth remembering what Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller said -- '“Every day is a new opportunity.' You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."” 


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