USA Today Sports Images
The Nationals are averaging 31,994 fans per game this season.
Six weeks into their first season as defending NL East champs, their prophecy is coming true. The Nationals have enjoyed the largest increase in attendance of any Major League Baseball franchise so far in 2013, drawing an average of 6,577 more fans per game than they drew at this same point last year.
Average attendance through the first 17 home games at Nationals Park is 31,994, a substantial increase from last year's average of 25,417 through the same number of games.
That increase outranks any other MLB club to date, just ahead of the Blue Jays, who are drawing 6,302 more fans per game so far this season. Only 11 MLB franchises have seen attendance numbers rise this year, while six franchises have seen attendance drop more than 5,000 per game: the Twins, Brewers, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Marlins (who are down a staggering 10,994 fans per game to date).
Though attractive opponents (including the Cardinals and Tigers) have played some role in the Nationals' increase, the biggest factor has been an increase in season-ticket sales. Club officials don't reveal exact numbers, but last year's season-ticket base was believed to be around 14,000. That number is believed to have increased to nearly 20,000 this year, evidenced by the fact the Nationals have yet to draw a crowd smaller than 24,412.