Competition Factor

What’s more impressive…Snagging four balls at a sold out Yankee Stadium or getting seven balls at a half-empty Shea?

Earlier this season, a fellow baseball collector named Nick created a statistic called “fans per ball.” After several of his games at RFK Stadium, he divided the attendance by the number of balls he caught. He was onto something. I’d been keeping track of attendance since 2001, but never knew what to do with it (other than complain).

But now, thanks to Nick, I’ve come up with a new statistic: Competition Factor.

Instead of dividing by the number of fans, this stat will be calculated by multiplying…so the higher the number, the better. If you catch five balls at a game with 10,000 fans, the Competition Factor is 50,000. Two balls at Fenway? The Competition Factor will be about 73,000.

At my last game at Shea, I snagged seven balls, and the attendance was 49,758. Competition Factor: 348,306.

On September 6, 2005, I got 17 balls at Camden Yards, but the attendance was just 20,729. As a result, my Competition Factor was only slightly better at 352,393.

My best performance ever took place on September 18, 1999 at Turner Field. (Yes, I’m such a dweeb that I once spent a whole day looking up old attendances.) With a crowd of 47,576, I caught 12 balls for a Competition Factor of 570,912.

It’s tough to break half a million. The only other times I did it were:

• 509,325 on 5/31/05 at Shea Stadium (15 balls, 33,955 fans)
• 504,543 on 6/13/06 at Citizens Bank Park (13 balls, 38,811 fans)

Other than the few times I got shut out in the early 1990s, my worst Competition Factor was 12,838. That was on May 6, 1996 at Yankee Stadium. One ball. No BP. Bleh.

What do YOU think about this new stat?
Are you now tempted to attend crowded games?
What’s your best/worst Competition Factor ever?
Do you think it’s possible to reach 1 million?

New Competition Factor record:
• 899,955 on 9/19/07 at Chase Field (21 balls, 42,855 fans)



    you would need to go to a 50,000 game and get 20 balls! that is hard

  2. Nick

    I love it, Zack. May I critique?

    How about you divide the current Competition Factor by 1,000. So lets say you snag 6 balls at a game with 20,000 fans. That is 6 x 20,000 = 120,000. Now, I propose you divide 120,000 by 1,000 making it 120,000 / 1,000 = 120. Competition Factor: 120. This way it looks much more baseball statistic like. Much resembling a slugging percentage. So, at your best game ever, you snagged 572.9. Like it?

    My Stats (adjusted):

    Best Game: 3 x 46,986 = 140958 (141.0) … round it up

    Worst Game: 1 x 17,310 = 17,310 (17.3)

    So now…

    In my best game, it seems as though I batted .141

    In my worst game, it seems as though I batted .017

    In your best game, you batted .573

    Can you bat 1.000?


    Back and got 3 balls all of them were those Green Training balls. The 1st was a fould ball from Soriano then 2nd came from some guy I forgot who, anyway he was tossing it to a little girl but she fumbled it and I got it, but I gave it to her and the player saw me and tossed me a ball of my own after. Then Livan Hernandez tossed me a ball near the dugout.

    3 balls

    1 auto (livan hernandez)

    Just missed a bp homer misjudged it and it landed in front of me and got swallowed up by 4 fans.


    I like and support Nick’s suggestion. Nick (or Zack, or anyone), does it matter that 1,000 is an arbitrary number? Does that happen often with baseball statistics? Or do you have to assign it a specific meaning (e.g. number of balls used during BP, or whatever)?



    i like the idea of the new facts, and it really seems hard to break 500,000


    Well Zack.

    Just for fun. The dividing by 1000 is a good number to have you chase the 500 homerun club besides your chase of the 3000 hit club.

    You’re best day of 571 puts you 9th on the list ahead of Palmeiro’s 569 and behind Killebrew’s 573.

    Can you top Aaron’s 755 before Bonds does?

    That may be a number you can never get to.


    Where can u find the attendances for the games besides the newspaper cause I wanna try this stat aswell.


    I like this idea

    P.s.I have too go against the red sox tonight.I think pedro is better than beckett…The mets are gunna win toniight



    ZAck-the mets cant let the red sox sweep em…I am a mets
    fan tonight…Pedro is better than beckett.



    I think this is a great stat, but yeah, reaching a million would be nearly impossible, I think. There are only 7 stadiums currently exceeding 50,000 in capacity, though you’re fortunate enough to be near two of them. But basically, to pull it off at Shea, the game would have to be sold out AND you’d have to get 17 balls — and at some stadiums, that number would climb to like, the 30-40 ball range. Crazy.



    I know I have done alot of bashing the mets the last couple of days…But I have to admit pedro is good and beckettt is not as good


  12. Nick


    I don’t think it matters that 1,000 is arbitrary… it would be more like an OPS because you can have an OPS over 1.000 (or 1,000 as we pronounce it)

    I just think dividing it by 1,000 makes it sound more baseball and familiar. Also, like Richard pointed out, you can compare a three digit number with baseball stats. I don’t want to sound like I’m taking away from your idea though, Zack. So whatever you decided is fine.


    The attendance of every game is posted at the bottom of every boxscore. It is the last thing listed under the pitchers.


    Homer by Delgado but they are still down 7.8-1.I hope they take pedro out soon…For the mets sake.


    haha i told you pedro couldn’t do anything to my red sox


    RAmones: Iam a huge red sox fan too.I have no idea why i am cherring the mets I guess cause i have 20 dollarswith a friend on them to win.that aint looking good


    My competiton factor rates this year:

    4/14/06: 37,489 x2= 74,978

    5/07/06: 48,100 x1= 48,100

    5/30/06: 35,448 x6= 212,688

    6/17/06: 52,320 x5= 261,600

    so right now im on a pretty good incline my last three games



    i have a question. i went to the 5/21/06 mets/yankees game at shea. i got there at 7:40 (8:00 sunday night game) i knew i wouldnt get any balls cause i didnt have field level seats (they done let you in without them regardless whether there is BP.) would you count this into YOUR record as a zero if you knew you were just going to a game to enjoy baseball and only baseball.

    cause if i did count this ut would keep a streak at 4 then starts a new one of 2 in consecutive games or would you not and call it 6 consecutive games based on the extreme circumstances.

    i personally DONT count this as a “snagging attempt game” and dont add it to my records only because i planned on not attempting to snag.

    what do you think?????

    but it is a very tough situation.


    i would never bet on any team besides my sox to win, 11 straight baby!!! do you smell repeats of 2004?

  19. Zack

    You’re right. That’s exactly what I was thinking.


    That’s an interesting suggestion. I like it and I don’t like it. It WOULD make it more stat-like and make it easier to compare to AVG and SLG. But does it really NEED to look like all other stats? I think it’s kinda fun to have a biiiig number, in the half-million range, that blows all other numbers away. I don’t know. I’m torn. Let’s wait and see if more people chime in with a preference. Either way, thanks for inspiring me!


    Congrats on the three balls. Sorry they were training balls. Those can get annoying after a while. Which team did you get them from?


    Thanks for your question. I think Nick explained everything. Just in case you don’t know, “OPS” stands for “on base plus slugging”…as in, on base percentage plus slugging percentage.


    I’m glad you identified yourself. That would’ve gone down as one of life’s unsolved mysteries. Glad you like the new stat.


    Interesting idea about the home run chase. ‘755’ would be REALLY tough. Even if I were to snag 17 balls at a game with 44,000 fans, I’d still fall short!


    Glad to hear that you like the stat, too. I can’t believe you were actually rooting for the Mets. And I can’t believe how bad Pedro was.


    Only seven stadiums? Really? Let me see if I can name them…Shea, Yankee, Dodger, Rogers Centre, Turner, Ameriquest? Oh, and Dolphin? Crazy indeed. Good point, however I don’t know that ‘fortunate’ is the word I’d use. :-)


    261,600 is getting up there. Very nice. Let’s hope the trend continues for you. As for your dilemma, I had a similar one when I went to a few games at SkyDome as part of a camp trip way back in 1991 and 1992. I *knew* I wouldn’t have a chance to get balls because we were gonna get there at the end of batting practice and be stuck in the upper deck. But then one of the kids in the group actually got a player to toss a ball all the way up, and he got it. So the whole concept of not having a chance went out the window, and I decided that I would have to count the game in my stats. Where were you sitting? 600 feet from home plate? I mean, was it physically impossible for a ball to reach you? That might be something else to consider. Ultimately, though, you’re the master of your own stats. You are your own scorekeeper. I would count the game, and THAT’S why I simply refuse to go to games unless I can get there early. For me, if I set foot in the stadium, it counts…unless, maybe the game is rained out. But even then, there are still usually some opportunities.

  20. Chad

    On your caught baseballs, Why don’t you go for the all-time strikeouts list (pitchers). You would be in 17th place behind Jim Bunning (2,855)


  21. Chad

    Zack do you keep track of games you go to like spring training in your records? I just found out the CF of the spring training game I went to in March. 13,378. Ha Ha


    Yea all of those Training Balls came from the Nationals I think they were only using those. I got 3 of em my friend got 1 and I saw a couple of em lying around.

  23. Chad

    I think the small #’s would be crazy because you can’t have over a .1000 batting avg. I don’t know maybe if they get over .1000 they go in the snagging hall of fame lol.

  24. Chad

    Instead of the position they go in the HOF for it is the thing that got them there like Competition Factor or Cost Per Ball or Fans Per Ball or whatever stat there may be


    hey zach in order to get 1,000,000, you would have to catch 20 balls at a stadium of 50,000 fans! good luck with that one!

  26. Zack

    I’ve thought about that—and I *am* unofficially trying to catch Pedro—but I don’t really want to deal with other stats. Too complicated. Plus, the idea of catching 5,715 baseballs is frightening (although I’ll probably get there eventually). I mean, why not go for the at-bats record? Hey! No problem! Only 11,203 balls to go…


    I don’t keep track of Spring Training games, but it’s not like it matters. I haven’t been to a Spring Training game since 1995.


    I think the Nats should be called “the Gnats” until they stop using those cheap balls.


    It’s insane. I wonder if it’s ever been done in the history of ball-snagging.

    -Zack (with a K)


    Zack – I was going by the numbers listed on my Ballparks calendar, so it has the ones above 50k as Shea, Yankee, Skydome/Rogers, RFK, Dodger, Coors, and Turner, though a lot of them border near that. I guess one could make a spreadsheet of the stadiums, their capacities, and how many baseballs you’d need to snag to get a competition factor over a million.

    But that also assumes a full stadium. So capacity is, as you pointed out, irrelevant if the team never sells out the place. I mean, I live in Seattle, and god knows we never fill Safeco Field to anything near capacity these days. I’d have to pick up something like 50 baseballs on an average night here, and quite frankly, the only one I’ve ever gotten here was one of those “training balls” thrown to me by Willie Bloomquist. I don’t have particularly good snag-fu.



    Hey Zack–

    Quick question for you. I now you rarely go to day games or weekend games, but I am going to be at a sunday game that Im assuming wont have bp as its after a doubleheaders. Do you think I could have luck by going all the way to right field loge to try and get balls?

  29. Nick

    The Nationals can’t be called the Gnats because their single-A team already uses that name

  30. Zack

    I trust the calendar, but depending on when it was published, the numbers might’ve changed. While Fenway gained a few thousand seats since last season, the Oakland Mausoleum lost about 10,000 when the upper deck was permanently closed. So who really knows. I can’t imagine getting 50 balls in one day…not at a Major League game, anyway. But hey, wait a second…didn’t the first game in Colorado (Mile High Stadium) draw over 80,000 fans? If someone managed to come up with 13 balls that day…


    I think you’re right, unfortunately. There probably won’t be BP, but the RF Loge could still be a good spot when the Mets pitchers come out to get their arms loose.


    You just had to go and ruin it, didn’tcha. :-)

    As for Competition Factor, I’m leaning toward leaving it alone and NOT dividing by 1,000. I like the idea of going for a million…but the decision is not final.

  31. Nick

    I respect the decision. It sounds cooler anyways to say: “My highest competition factor is 397,000.”

  32. Zack


    But like I said, it’s not a final decision. I’m still waiting to hear from Bill James. I’ll do whatever He says.


    Hey Zack-
    Well Mine and Ramones RED SOX swept your mets Yay!Even tho

    I lost 20 dollars on last night’s game(yea I know it is hard to believe I would root against my sox but I did)I thought pedro would be better anyway, to the METS do me and ramones an favor and beat those yankees this weekend GO METS.O and it would do jimmy’s

    jays a favor too.



    ZAck-Just had to rub that sweep
    of the mets in.

    RAMONES-Good advice I will not ever ever bet against the red sox again.That was a mistake.



    We could have really used the Mets why couldn’t they have beat the Sox like they beat us. I really thought the Mets would win today but w.e all I can say is taht the Jays are gonna soar with AJ back 3 straight and going!

  36. Zack

    I’m really surprised. I never thought the Mets would get SWEPT.*****. But at least their poor play was bad for the Yankees. Haha. And I’m glad Schilling won. I’ve liked him since ’93.


    JImmy-I did not know AJ burnet
    Makes that big of a difference

    for the Jays.But,I guess he does Who else is in their rotation?I know Holliday and AJ who else?I hope the jays win more.

    ZACK- Just tell the mets to beat those yankees this weekend.You did not have delgado today.Why?



    Thanks for lettin me know about Carlos Delgado.I hope it is not serious.The mets need Delgado.Mets Beat those yankees.HAve I said that enough yet.I really want the mets to beat the yankees.CAn u tell?


  39. Zack

    Well, I wasn’t sure, but NOW I can tell. If you ever want to find out why a guy didn’t play, or if he’s injured, go to and do a search. Very easy. Great source of info.


    THanks for the website.I think I will be going to bed soon though.Beat those yankees i cant say that enough.


  41. John

    If you guys are talking about getting game balls when you write about crowded games that is one thing but during BP the crowds are not extremely large. Competition is good anyway, I mean try a day where little leaguers get in 30 minutes before everyone else and have all the good spots taken. That has happened to me 3 or 4 times but I still manage to get 2 or 3 balls.

    I guess I am old school when it comes to getting baseballs. You should enjoy some competition. For me it makes it a lot more interesting. Even with me getting older I know that with 300 people there during BP or 3,000 that most likely I will Catch 2 or 3 balls because I am just that good!!



    Ugh…i do not like yankee fans they are so critical about everything…They criticize everything you say to them.


    ZAck- Your mets are useless.i am mad at them they cant even beat the yankees come on mets win the next 2.


    wonderfull day today at the metrodome.. Joe Mauer sweetspot…damian miller card, jose cappelan card, lew ford card, ron gardenhire, ben sheets card, rickey weeks card, carlos lee card, and more ill post later and i have a ball from luis castillo plus an auto..more info tomorrow and sunday


    My Highest CF ever comes from when I caught 6 balls at a sold out Yankee Game. 6×53,837=323,022

  46. Zack

    Competition IS fun, but for me, going home with an obscene amount of baseballs is funner.


    It’s just pathetic. But hey, if the Mets keep losing, at least there’ll be fewer fans at Shea Stadium.


    That’s insane! Congrats on the great day. Where was Mauer signing? Inside the ballpark? When exactly? I’d love to get him at some point.


    If only you’d gotten 13 more balls that day…

  47. Nick

    Nationals-Devil Rays tonight…

    only 21,000 at the game last night and the Nationals lost 11-1… hopefully no one will show up

    or do i want a lot of people to come so i can boost my CF? hmm…

    either way, good seats. should be fun. wish me luck.


    ZAck-I hear the mets are actually scoring runs today
    Jimmyy-Where you been?



    Does anyone know if they’ll be using special balls on Canada Day or the 4th of July?


    The Jays are now tied with the




    ZACK-I want the mets to keep up thier scoring and win but,
    If they make it to the playoffs can your mets stay out of the world series Mine and Ramones red sox would rather not see the mets in the

    world series.

    Also i bet the mets would rather not see the sox again especially in a world series.



    Or zack-should i ask the red sox to stay out of the world series?


    zack- i got a question Do i have a chance at catching balls at fenway?I am going August 1-3 they are playing the cleveland indians.I will be sitting 5 rows from the field on the right field side.
    I am going for all 3 games.

    What are the chances?

    I should get to bed soon..when youu are only 14 years old…1 am is late.


  54. Zack

    I’d actually love it if the Red Sox were to face the Mets in the World Series. I was only nine years old last time it happened, and thanks to MY early bedtimes, I didn’t get to see much of it. You can definitely get a ball (or three) at Fenway despite the large crowds. Here’s what to do:

    1) Make sure you’re THE first fan to enter the stadium.

    2) Go for the corner spot down the 3rd base line, or a little farther down the line if that spot is somehow already taken.

    3) Wear a glove and a hat of the visiting team and ask all the players (by their first names) for balls. Easy.


    Not sure about the special balls, but if you find out, let me know.


    ZAck-Thanks i will follow ythose directions.One more question How long before the gates open do you suggest getting There?I would like to see a mets-sox world series so the sox can crush the mets.HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH


    OKay i better get my rosters out to callthemby there first names


    I have to go to bed but,who are good ballthrowers/signers on the redsox or cleveland indians?

  58. Zack

    I suggest arriving at least half an hour early…maybe even 45 minutes or an hour if you want to be safe and have the time to spare.

    I’ve hardly seen the Sox or Indians in the last few years, but I’ve seen some of their players when they were with other teams. On the Sox, the good guys are: Josh Beckett, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell (especially if he’s warning up in front of the dugout before the game), and Manny. On the Indians…uh, err…Baul Byrd. Yeah, that’s about all I can tell you.

  59. Cory


    Your competition factor seems a little skewed, in my opinion. Attendance figures can be misleading. You can catch 5 balls at a sold-out Shea and 5 balls at a sold-out PNC Park and get a completely different factor–but probably close to the same “competition.” A more telling stat would include the ratio of attendance to capacity of the ballpark. That would give you a better idea of how productive your day was.

    If you feel like commenting back, feel free to visit my blog.

    –Cory from “A New Pirates Generation”


    as usually i was right about my red sox, and thank you Zack for your mets beating the yankees. we are now up 4.0 games on the evil empire. and as to the red sox vs. mets talks for the World Series, i have said they would play against each other in the world series and if they did, the Red Sox would win in 5 games. Peace


    Wow are you all dumb?!

    The Jays will win the World Series easily, trust me.

  62. Zack

    That’s a good point, but I don’t fully agree. Of all the fans who attend games, let’s say five percent of them ALSO attend BP. Five percent at a sold out Shea yields far more fans than five percent at a sold out PNC. And when those fans are in the ballpark for BP, where are they? Just about all of them go to the field level. Therefore, the field level at Shea will be more crowded than the field leve at PNC when both places are sold out. So I have to defend Competition Factor and argue that it really IS tougher to get balls at a big stadium with a sellout crowd.


    It pains me to report that the Mets are currently losing, 13-5, to the Yankees in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ouch.


    Don’t make me start rooting against the Jays.


    yes, I think it’s possible for a 1 million CF game, because one of these days someone is just going to hand you the entire basket of BP balls off the mound as well as several dozen boxes of game balls, so a 200-ball game probably is feasible.

  64. Zack

    Yeah, but with my luck, that 200-ball game would probably take place at a Marlins make-up game in September with a paid attendance of 4,978. Then again, I nearly hit the 900,000 mark a few days ago in Phoenix, so it very well might happen.

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