ESPN the Magazine has come out with its annual ranking of all sports franchises, and the Royals top all Major League Baseball teams. The rankings measure affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, title track, and bang for the buck using fan surveys to gather opinions. The Royals finished fifth in MLB in 2015, and fifteenth overall, the second-biggest leap in one year in the standings.
The Royals topped all teams in title track, since they are fresh off the second championship in franchise history. They also scored well in affordability, fan relations, and stadium experience. The Royals were praised for not hiking up ticket prices too much in the wake of their championship and for having likable players such as Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas.
The Royals improved a lot in “bang for the buck” but continue to do poorly in coaching, a sign that Ned Yost has still not earned much respect for the Royals’ success.
Ned Yost ranked 47th in coaching last year -- remember, the polling was done just before the Royals won the World Series -- and fell a few spots to 54th this year. Even with a ring, Royals fans remain unconvinced that Yost is one of the game's top managers. Apparently, even the year after a title, it's easier to blame the manager than the offense that finished near the bottom in runs scored.
The Rangers finished just behind the Royals, with the Orioles third among baseball teams. The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning topped the overall list followed by the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The Kansas City Chiefs finished 20th, up from 38th in 2015, with the team doing well in bang for the buck, but with fans not believing the team is very close to a championship.
Finishing dead-last among all teams was the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, who have been plagued by poor management and high ticket prices. The worst baseball team was the Oakland Athletics, finishing 115th out of 122 teams. Surprisingly, the New York Yankees finished 100th, the fourth-lowest among all baseball teams.
The rankings are just kind of a silly way for ESPN the Magazine to garner some attention, but it does show that fans are generally pretty happy with the way the Royals are running things. The team has popular players, has kept those players together, and has had a remarkable run of success. Meanwhile, they continue to make the team accessible to fans, giving Kansas City a terrific, affordable ballpark experience. It is hard to complain much as a Royals fan right now.