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America Has Spoken: The Yankees Are The Worst

The Yankees’ longstanding self-important and overpaid ways have been pushed aside by a plucky band of youngsters and rising stars. So is it now fair to say that the franchise once proudly known as the “Evil Empire” is no longer baseball’s most hated team?

Nope. As far as most Americans are concerned, the Yankees are still plenty hateable, thank you very much. In fact, they’re the most hated MLB team.

That’s according to a FiveThirtyEight-commissioned SurveyMonkey Audience poll of 989 self-described baseball fans, conducted June 30 to July 8.1 The poll does provide the Yankees with one talking point: They received more votes as people’s favorite team than any other franchise. But a deeper look at the results reveals that the Cubs are a much better fit for the title of America’s best-liked team (if such a thing even exists).

Because baseball fandom is highly regional, Americans have many favorite teams. The Yankees top the national list of favorites, but with just 10 percent of the vote.

The fight to be America’s favorite team is very close

Share of respondents who said a given team was their favorite

TEAM SHARE FAVORITE TEAM
1 New York Yankees 10%
2 Boston Red Sox 8
3 Chicago Cubs 8
4 Atlanta Braves 8
5 Los Angeles Dodgers 5
6 San Francisco Giants 5
7 Texas Rangers 4
8 St. Louis Cardinals 4
9 Detroit Tigers 4
10 Philadelphia Phillies 4
Seattle Mariners 4
12 New York Mets 3
13 Cincinnati Reds 3
14 Cleveland Indians 3
15 Minnesota Twins 3
16 Baltimore Orioles 3
17 Arizona Diamondbacks 2
Pittsburgh Pirates 2
19 Los Angeles Angels 2
20 Colorado Rockies 2
Kansas City Royals 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
23 Chicago White Sox 2
Oakland Athletics 2
25 San Diego Padres 2
26 Houston Astros 2
27 Tampa Bay Rays 1
28 Washington Nationals 1
29 Miami Marlins 1
30 Toronto Blue Jays <1

Percentages are rounded.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: SurveyMonkey

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves come very close behind at 8 percent, while the West Coast’s bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, aren’t far behind at 5 percent. The difference between the top teams is so small that the Yankees would tie for third place (with the Braves), trailing the Cubs and Red Sox, if you exclude fans from the state of New York.

Breaking down the favorite-team results by census region we can see that, unsurprisingly, different areas of the country prefer different teams. While the Yankees are in a tight fight for first place with the Red Sox in the Northeast,2 they don’t come anywhere close to being the favorite team (or even breaking 10 percent) in any other region.

Every region has its own favorite

Share of respondents who said a given team was their favorite by census region

NORTHEAST SOUTH MIDWEST WEST
TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE
Yankees 28% Braves 22% Cubs 22% Giants 15%
Red Sox 23 Rangers 12 Tigers 12 Dodgers 13
Phillies 16 Yankees 9 Cardinals 11 Mariners 12
Mets 12 Red Sox 8 Twins 10 D-backs 7
Pirates 10 Orioles 6 Indians 9 Angels 6
Tigers 2 Cubs 5 Reds 8 Yankees 6
Dodgers 2 Astros 4 Brewers 8 Rockies 5
Cubs 1 Cardinals 4 Royals 5 Padres 5
White Sox 1 Reds 3 White Sox 4 Athletics 5
Reds 1 Mets 3 Yankees 3 Red Sox 4
Rockies 1

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

The Braves are first in the South, with the Texas Rangers second.3 The Midwest is dominated by the Cubs, trailed by the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins and the Cubs’ arch-rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, all in double digits. Meanwhile, the Giants are just ahead of the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners in the West.4

What isn’t regional is how well the Cubs are liked — that finding came up pretty much everywhere. We often think of fandom as stopping at one’s favorite team, but fans can like (or dislike) more than one team. So in addition to asking fans who their favorite team was, we also asked each fan whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of 10 randomly assigned teams. That means the sample size for each team’s favorable or unfavorable rating was a little over 300 fans. For most teams (19 of 30), 67 percent or less of the fans we polled felt they could offer an opinion — again, suggesting the regionality of baseball. But more than 80 percent of fans had a rating for the Cubs, and they were well-liked by nearly everyone.

The Cubs are the most liked team and the Yankees the least

Favorable and unfavorable ratings for every MLB team when respondents were each asked their views on ten randomly assigned teams

TEAM RATED BY FAVORABLE UNFAVORABLE NET FAV.
Chicago Cubs 81% 67% 14% +53
St. Louis Cardinals 69 50 19 +31
Kansas City Royals 64 47 17 +30
Boston Red Sox 84 56 28 +28
Colorado Rockies 55 41 14 +27
Baltimore Orioles 67 46 21 +25
San Francisco Giants 69 46 23 +23
Minnesota Twins 58 40 18 +22
Pittsburgh Pirates 64 43 21 +22
Houston Astros 64 43 21 +22
Cleveland Indians 69 45 24 +21
Seattle Mariners 61 41 20 +21
San Diego Padres 61 41 20 +21
Atlanta Braves 70 45 25 +20
Arizona Diamondbacks 59 39 20 +19
Detroit Tigers 58 38 20 +18
Texas Rangers 64 41 23 +18
Los Angeles Angels 63 40 23 +17
Chicago White Sox 69 43 26 +17
Milwaukee Brewers 60 38 22 +16
Oakland Athletics 57 36 21 +15
Los Angeles Dodgers 73 44 29 +15
Cincinnati Reds 61 36 25 +11
Washington Nationals 61 36 25 +11
Tampa Bay Rays 57 34 23 +11
New York Mets 78 43 35 +8
Toronto Blue Jays 58 33 25 +8
Miami Marlins 60 33 27 +6
Philadelphia Phillies 62 33 29 +4
New York Yankees 92 44 48 -4

Percentages and percentage points are rounded.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: SurveyMOnkey

Sixty-seven percent of baseball fans nationally had a favorable view of the Cubs, while just 14 percent had an unfavorable view. Amazingly, this gave the Cubs the highest favorable rating in the poll in addition to a tie with the Colorado Rockies for the lowest unfavorable rating. In every region of the country, the Cubs had a favorable rating of above 60 percent and an unfavorable rating of 20 percent or less. The Cardinals (at +31 percentage points) were a distant second to the Cubs (at +53 percentage points) when it came to net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating).

The Yankees are an entirely different story. While a fairly high 44 percent of fans have a favorable view of the Yankees, they are the only team in the country for which more fans hold an unfavorable view (48 percent) than favorable view. (For the sake of context, no other team has an unfavorable rating above 35 percent.) Yankee fans will be particularly stung by the fact that more fans have a favorable view of the rival Red Sox (56 percent) than the Yankees.

Not only are the Yankees generally disliked, they’re also outright hated by more fans than any other team. When asked to give their least favorite team, an astounding 27 percent of fans said theirs was the Yankees. The Red Sox were a distant second at 10 percent.

The Yankees are America’s most hated team

Share of respondents who said a given team was their least favorite

TEAM SHARE LEAST FAVORITE TEAM
1 New York Yankees 27%
2 Boston Red Sox 10
3 Los Angeles Dodgers 5
4 Arizona Diamondbacks 5
5 Chicago Cubs 4
6 Washington Nationals 4
7 Miami Marlins 3
8 Atlanta Braves 3
9 Chicago White Sox 3
New York Mets 3
11 San Francisco Giants 3
12 Detroit Tigers 3
13 Toronto Blue Jays 3
14 St. Louis Cardinals 2
15 Oakland Athletics 2
Texas Rangers 2
17 Cleveland Indians 2
18 Philadelphia Phillies 2
19 Pittsburgh Pirates 2
20 Minnesota Twins 2
21 Los Angeles Angels 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
23 Cincinnati Reds 1
24 Houston Astros 1
25 San Diego Padres 1
26 Tampa Bay Rays 1
27 Baltimore Orioles 1
Colorado Rockies 1
29 Kansas City Royals 1
30 Seattle Mariners 1

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

The Yankees were the least favorite team in every region in the country, and it wasn’t a particularly close race anywhere.

Every part of America hates the Yankees

Share of respondents who said a given team was their least favorite by census region

NORTHEAST SOUTH MIDWEST WEST
TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE TEAM SHARE
Yankees 34% Yankees 25% Yankees 28% Yankees 26%
Red Sox 17 Red Sox 10 Cubs 11 Dodgers 12
D-Backs 6 D-Backs 6 Cardinals 8 Red Sox 8
Mets 6 Nats 6 Red Sox 5 Giants 6
Cubs 4 Braves 5 Indians 5 Athletics 5
Phillies 4 Tigers 5 White Sox 4 D-Backs 4
Nats 3 Blue Jays 4 D-Backs 4 White Sox 4
Rockies 3 Marlins 4 Braves 4 Marlins 3
Marlins 3 Mets 3 Marlins 3 Rangers 3
Dodgers 2 Phillies 3 Twins 3 Angels 3
Brewers 2 Rangers 3 Nats 3

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

Interestingly, we do see that there is at least some correlation with being well-liked in a region and having haters. The Red Sox are the second-most disliked team in the Northeast,5 the Cubs are the second-most disliked team in the Midwest, and the Dodgers are the second-most disliked team in the West. Perhaps fans of other teams are just jealous of these teams’ popularity, or perhaps there’s a rivalry element to this finding. All of these team’s top rivals (Yankees for the Red Sox, Cardinals for the Cubs and Giants for the Dodgers) were fairly popular in their own right, and each fan base listed the rival as their least favorite team.

Of course, I don’t think any of these disliked teams in each region are going to be crying about being hated. Ownerships don’t care whether you watch a team to root for or against it — they just care that you watch. Each region’s most and second-most disliked team also ranks among the top 10 in MLB attendance this season. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Still, these numbers suggest you shouldn’t mistake notoriety or ticket sales for being well-liked. In some cases, well-known teams (like the Cubs) are also well-liked — but in others (cough, Yankees), these teams can be better described as “notorious.”

Check out our latest MLB predictions.

Footnotes

  1. This was only in the United States — so fans in Canada, where the Toronto Blue Jays play, did not participate.

  2. In New England (six states), the Red Sox are first at 71 percent. In the slightly higher populated New York state, the Yankees are first at 55 percent.

  3. The Rangers are a clear first in Texas (at 52 percent), with the Houston Astros a distant second at 17 percent. In the region’s other big state, Florida, a team from Georgia (the Braves, at 17 percent) is actually slightly ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays — and the Yankees — at 15 percent. The Miami Marlins are a distant fifth in their own home state, at 8 percent.

  4. The Giants are also a little ahead in California, at 28 percent (over the Dodgers at 23 percent).

  5. Even in New England, the Red Sox are the second most-hated team, at 13 percent. In New York state, the Yankees rank second at 15 percent.

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.

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