With Major League Baseball and the hometown Nationals now in the full swing of spring, a recent study from Scarborough Sports Marketing finds about half of American adults and 44 percent of “Generation Y” adults are “fans” of the big leagues, with about 15 percent of all adults and 13 percent of younger adults labeled “avid fans.”

Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg (37) delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

While the proportion of Generation Y adults interested in Major League Baseball is nearly the same as among all U.S. adults, the report notes that the younger fans are much more racially and ethnically diverse: About a third (32 percent) of MLB fans in Gen-Y are Hispanic (21 percent) or African American (11 percent), compared with 20 percent in the broader population.

Washington-area interest in Major League Baseball is nearly the same as the national average, with local Scarborough research showing 46 percent of area adults are “fans” (roughly 2 million) and 13 percent, or just over 600,000, are “avid fans.”

Among U.S. markets with Major League Baseball franchises, those with the highest proportion of “avid fans” are Philadelphia (35 percent), St. Louis (28 percent), Boston (27 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (24 percent), and New York (24 percent).

In a separate Washington Post poll of D.C.-area sports fans last summer, 37 percent described themselves as caring about MLB a "great deal" or "somewhat." The Nationals are tied with the NHL Capitals as pro-sports franchises viewed most favorably in the area with a 61 percent positive rating.

Like the overall adult population, local Generation Y Major League Baseball fans in the Scarborough data are more likely than fans overall to be Hispanic or African American.  Fully 40 percent of young area fans are Hispanic or African American, compared with 28 percent nationally.

Some 43 percent of local fans say they have attended an MLB game in the past 12 month; it’s 46 percent among Generation Y fans.  A third of all local baseball fans say they attended a Nationals game in the past year.

Among “avid” Major League Baseball fans, 62 percent overall have attended any MLB game in the past 12 months, and nearly half (47 percent) attended a Nationals game in the past 12 months.

David Barie is in The Post’s research and analytics department

SOURCES:  Scarborough Sports Marketing, Scarborough Research, 2011, Release 2 (U.S. and Washington DMA). All Washington data is based on the “DMA,” which is the television viewing market as defined by Nielsen.  Scarborough Sports Marketing defined “fans” as those who are “very,” “somewhat,” or “a little bit” interested in Major League Baseball.  “Avid fans” were defined as those who were “very interested” in Major League Baseball.  “Generation Y” was defined as age 18 to 29.  Scarborough Research is a provider of syndicated market and media research information.