*Disclaimer: This article was written October 19th, 2022

Baseball is notoriously difficult to prognosticate. Despite the copious statistics on every pitcher, position player and batter, the element of chance reigns supreme, keeping fans guessing even into extra innings in World Series Game 7s. Who could have ever predicted that a Game 7 rain delay would help tip the momentum toward the Chicago Cubs against Cleveland in 2016?

So we won’t even try to tell you which MLB team will actually win the 2022 World Series. Instead, let’s imagine who would prevail if pageviews — basically, fan interest — could dictate the results?

We analyzed US pageview totals from its publisher partners over a 90-day period ending on Oct. 14, to pinpoint which teams fans cared to read about the most. This analysis should help publishers figure out which teams to highlight in coverage.

During all sports seasons, advertisers can best reach sports fans through the publishers in our Premium Sports Package, including NBCSports and ESPN. The package is a premium collection of supply, placements and formats that helps advertisers connect with fans just as they are engaging with the content that thrills them most.

Batter up!

Division Series: Who Would Have Won Based on Pageviews?

After a format change introduced more wild card competitors than in past years, eight teams made it to the Division Series. In the American League: New York Yankees (champs, Eastern Division), Cleveland Guardians (champs, Central), Houston Astros (champs, West), and Seattle Mariners (wild card). In the National League: Atlanta Braves (champs, East), Los Angeles Dodgers (champs, West), San Diego Padres (wild card) and Philadelphia Phillies (wild card).

With eight teams, each league had two Division Series matchups.

Pageviews Correctly Pegged ALDS Winners

In the American League, the Guardians, the least popular playoff team with only 6 million pageviews, took on the perennially popular Yankees, with their 34 million pageviews. In real life, the Yankees won. Fan engagement would have predicted the same result.

Team Pageviews Winner
New York Yankees 34,090,950
Cleveland Guardians 6,133,070

Also in the AL, the Astros (8.5 million pageviews) faced off against the Mariners (7.5 million pageviews). With similar levels of fan engagement, the Astros would have been expected to just scrape past the Mariners. In reality, the Astros swept.

Team Pageviews Winner
Houston Astros 8,416,330
Seattle Mariners 7,592,050

Pageviews Missed NLDS Upsets

The National League Division Series featured a pair of upsets in which the wild card teams eliminated division champs. In a stunner, the Phillies (9m pageviews) knocked out reigning World Champions the Atlanta Braves (11m pageviews).

Team Pageviews Winner
Atlanta Braves 10,875,730
Philadelphia Phillies 9,324,350

In an equally shocking turn of events, the Padres (8.5m) eliminated the Dodgers (11.5m), who had the best record in baseball with 111 wins. In both matchups, pageviews — much like bookmakers — would have predicted the opposite outcomes.

Team Pageviews Winner
Los Angeles Dodgers 11,522,540
San Diego Padres 8,457,480

Championship Series: Who Will Advance to the World Series?

The two teams competing for the American League Championship are both fan favorites: The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Based on viewer enthusiasm, we could easily predict that the Yankees will prevail in the best-of-seven contest. The Yankees have nearly four times the pageviews of their adversaries!

Team Pageviews
New York Yankees 34,090,950
Houston Astros 8,416,330

But will reality follow the pageviews? Maybe not. The Astros and Yankees have been locked in an intense rivalry for several years. The Astros made it to the World Series in three of the past five seasons, twice eliminating the Yankees to get there. Based on that history and this year’s lineups, a lot of observers are putting their bets on Houston.

In the National League Championship Series, things are topsy turvy. Both the Phillies and the Padres are less popular than the teams they eliminated. Their pageviews are not far apart; the Phillies have 9.3 million and the Padres have 8.5 million. So pageviews would predict that the Phillies would squeak out a victory, maybe by Game 7.

Team Pageviews
Philadelphia Phillies 9,324,350
San Diego Padres 8,457,480

In reality, both the Phillies’ and the Padres’ records are as weak as their pageviews; this is the first NLCS ever to feature two teams with less than 90 wins apiece. But will the most popular of the two longshots win? So far, reality seems to be following that script, with the Phillies beating the Padres 2-0 in Game 1. What happens after that, though, is anyone’s guess. A slim majority of experts are guessing the Padres will advance.

World Series Predictions Remain Elusive

In a pageview-based competition, the two most popular teams in baseball would go to the World Series, and the one with the most pageviews would win it all. That would put the Yankees (34m) at the pinnacle at the expense of the Dodgers (11.5 million).

Team Pageviews
New York Yankees 34,090,950
Los Angeles Dodgers 11,522,540

Since the Dodgers have already been eliminated, that scenario can’t happen. Of course, the Yankees could still be World Champs, if they get past the Astros in the ALCS. But who would represent the National League? There are only two options: the Padres, who haven’t been to the World Series since 1998 (they lost) or the Phillies, who won it in 2008 before losing in in 2009.

Based on pageviews, the Phillies would be the team that gets the privilege of losing to the Yankees in the 2022 World Series. The Phillies (9.3m) are just a little more popular than the Padres (8.5m).

Team Pageviews
New York Yankees 34,090,950
Philadelphia Phillies 9,324,350
San Diego Padres 8,457,480
Houston Astros 8,416,330

In reality, the Houston Astros are the favorites to win the World Series. Bookmakers have them defeating the Padres to get there. But as a wise man (Yogi Berra) once said: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And watching to see what happens next is the fun of it.

Originally Published:

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