Maybe it’s the signing of Bryce Harper. Maybe it’s the new vegan cheesesteak.
Whatever the reason, attendance at Citizens Bank Park is way up through the first month of the Phillies season. The team is averaging 36,995 fans in its first 17 home games, compared to just 25,810 through the first 16 last year.
The 37,000 mark gives the Phillies the fourth-highest average attendance in MLB so far, trailing just the Dodgers, Cardinals and Yankees.
Last season, attendance at Citizens Bank Park climbed slightly throughout the summer and ended up averaging out at 27,318. The Phillies finished right near the middle of the pack, with the 17th-best attendance, according to ESPN.
And that was an improvement over 2017, when the Phillies won just 66 games. They averaged 24,118 per home game, and fewer than 2 million people entered the park. That mark was good for seventh worst in MLB.
The Phillies are 16-13 through April 30. That record is identical to the record they held at the end of April last year. However, as my colleague Bob Brookover points out, the team is in a much better position to maintain that success this season than it was last year.
“I think it feels like two different teams,” Kapler said after a win over the Marlins on Sunday. “In all fairness, last year’s club at this point, we were a tad over our skis, relative to this club. I think this [year] is more representative of the club that we are and I think we can be even better than we have been in April, frankly.”
Owner John Middleton decided, after a late-season collapse after the Phillies were in first place for 39 games, that this season would be one in which they would contend. They went all in.
They signed Harper and Andrew McCutchen and traded for J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura all four of them All-Stars. They signed young ace Aaron Nola to a contract extension, and anticipated that young arms such as Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez would continue to improve. They added 34-year-old David Robertson to the bullpen.
Now, the Phillies sit one game ahead of the Mets in the NL East, with lots more baseball to play.