A Scientific Ranking of Each MLB Team's Twitter Account

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to free themselves from the bonds of godawful Cardinal baseball.

Consider this article your 5-10 minute escape from said torment.

Q: Tyler, does this assortment of words about Twitter accounts even matter?

A: I'm the one writing this article, so the answer is most likely no. That said, sports teams have the ability nowadays to produce what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising at virtually no cost, plus the ability to access a bevy of information about their followers and target audience.

Admittedly, there was no way to create a perfect model to rank the 30 teams. I thought about finding the r^2 values for various Twitter statistics relative to that account's number of followers, but there are far too many factors that impact follower count that I would have to adjust for. (One of the biggest drivers of follower count is the club's on-field success, something completely out of the hands of the person behind the account.)

That's when I made the decision to look exclusively at percentage and ratio numbers. This would ensure that every team account–bigger or smaller–would have an equal opportunity using these seven metrics (courtesy of Tweetchup):

  1. Tweets/day: A good account is an active one that interacts with fans throughout the day, not one that merely provides stale game updates for a few hours.
  2. Reply%: Reply% simply states what percentage of the team's tweets are replies to a different tweet. This is arguably the best measure of how well the account engages with others.
  3. Retweet%: This stat is calculated the exact same way Reply% is. Good accounts also retweet content from others as opposed to only supplying followers with their own words.
  4. NIT%: NIT (Non-interactive tweet)% tells us what percentage of the account's tweets aren't replies or retweets, in other words tweets that don't connect with other Twitter users.
  5. Mentions/tweet: Whenever your tweet includes the Twitter handle (@username) of another account, that is considered a mention. A high mentions/tweet ratio can mean two things: 1) The account is frequently talking with others; 2) The account's play-by-play tweets connect fans with player accounts, a good way to boost player popularity.
  6. Retweeted%: What percentage of an account's tweets get retweeted by others? That is exactly what Retweeted% is for. The greater the Retweeted%, the more often fans are spreading the account's message to others.
  7. Liked%: This is a stat identical to Retweeted%, only this time with the percentage of tweets that are liked by others. Liked% is the least important of the seven stats as it doesn't indicate whether fans are re-sharing tweets or interacting with the team. It can, however, give us a snapshot about the account's mass-communication ability as Tweets with more retweets and likes reach more eyeballs.
While the latter two stats give us an idea about the creativity and humor each team employs, I was more concerned with the two primary objectives of each account: interact with our fans and get others talking about us.

Using Tweetchup, I compiled the data for each team from April 2nd (Opening Day) to June 5 (the last full day before I began researching). Once I had the stats sorted in a spreadsheet, I faced by far my toughest task in this project: I needed to morph seven variables into one number, which meant devising my own formula.

The pure fact that I had to create a formula didn't daunt me, but what did was that fact that I had to decide how much to weight each of the seven figures. Here are the semi-arbitrary coefficients for my formula:

Stat Percentage of total score
Reply% 40
NIT% 24
Tweets/Day 13
Retweeted% 8
Mentions/Tweet 7
Retweet% 6
Liked% 2

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you: wITS (pronounced like the word "wits"), or Weighted Interactive Twitter Score. The formula looks scary on paper, but I promise you it doesn't bite.


Don't worry if this formula makes zero sense, it's just math lingo saying that I averaged the account's ranking among the 30 clubs for the seven metrics, with adequate preference for those stats I deemed more important. Just know that a lower wITS is better, with the best possible rating being 1 and the worst possible being 30.

So after approximately 700 words of explanation, here are the final rankings:

Rank Account wITS
1 @Cubs 5.41
2 @Padres 6.2
3 @Rockies 6.2
4 @Marlins 6.37
5 @Indians 6.71
6 @Mariners 7.71
7 @Dbacks 8.35
8 @Athletics 9.6
9 @astros 11.65
10 @BlueJays 11.77
11 @Cardinals 12.22
12 @Pirates 13.02
13 @RedSox 14.15
14 @Braves 14.54
15 @Dodgers 15.23
16 @RaysBaseball 17.32
17 @Twins 17.63
18 @Nationals 18.33
19 @Rangers 18.35
20 @Reds 19.12
21 @SFGiants 19.44
22 @tigers 19.49
23 @whitesox 21.04
24 @Orioles 21.84
25 @Phillies 22.49
26 @Brewers 23.16
27 @Angels 23.22
28 @Mets 24
29 @Yankees 24.43
30 @Royals 26.01

I am so sorry. You came all this way only to find out that the Cubs took the crown. The Cubs. It would be a shame if something happened to the wITS formula which knocked them off their throne, but for now I have a journalistic reputation to protect. For those wondering, you would have to practically throw out five of the seven categories altogether for the Cardinals to pass the Cubs. However, the 11-time World Champions check in at #11. An omen, perhaps?

Just for fun, I entered my own Twitter account into Tweetchup with the exact same parameters used in the study of the MLB teams. I went in knowing I was setting myself up for an utter massacre. I was matching myself up against people whose sole job was to update a social media profile all day, whose job was to retweet stuff and reply to fans, and who had over a million people to like and retweet their own posts.

I added a row at the bottom of my spreadsheet labeled @Tyler_Opinion and began to plug in numbers. My index finger trembled as it hovered above the enter key, the next five-or-so seconds of my life at stake. I braced for impact as my wITS appeared on the screen...13.72. I did a double take. Everything was typed in correctly. 13.72? That's better than 18 of the 30 Major League teams.

I decided to go a step further. I ranked dead last in both Retweeted% and Liked%, which was to be expected. The Marlins, the team account with the fewest followers, still had about 700 followers for every one that I had. The Yankees held a ratio of nearly 60,000:1. I removed these "popularity-based" stats from the equation and all of a sudden I had vaulted inside the top ten.

Well, that's about all I have to say. Maybe this was a dumb article. [Tyler the Editor is reading it over right now and realizing that this was a terrifying waste of internet capital.] But if you had as much fun reading this article as I did writing it, you are a very happy individual.

*Obligatory blogger plugs ahead*

As always you can follow me on Twitter @Tyler_Opinion. You can also check out my YouTube channel where I uploaded my Cardinals highlight video for May yesterday.

You may now return to the pain and suffering of watching the Cardinals do something that maybe resembles playing baseball.