No. 90: Houston Astros

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 10, 2012, 1:16 PM ET
By Doug Mittler | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 88
Title track: 100
Ownership: 92
Coaching: 105
Players: 80
Fan relations: 77
Affordability: 54
Stadium experience: 78
Bang for the buck: 111

Considering that the Houston Astros dropped from seventh in ownership to 92nd over the past six years, a change at the top could not come fast enough for Houston fans. Enter Jim Crane, who bought the team last November and immediately started tinkering. He hired analytical GM Jeff Luhnow, who has stripped the team of veteran, high-priced talent and started rebuilding it with young players. The most notable player currently on the Astros' anonymous roster is 5'5" second baseman Jose Altuve. Manager Brad Mills, who objected to Luhnow's management style, was dismissed in mid-August. At Minute Maid Park, where the club has declined in stadium experience five straight years, Crane may remove the train above the leftfield wall and has no fondness for Tal's Hill, the slope in centerfield that makes deep fly balls an adventure. The Astros allowed fans to bring their own food and water to games this season, reversing a ban that made former owner Drayton McLane look like a penny-pincher. Still, the average ticket price of $30.09 is more than three bucks above the MLB average, which is asking a lot for a team that's headed for a second straight 100-loss season. Crane seems to think nothing is off the table -- he agreed to move to the American League next season after more than half a century in the NL and even floated the idea of changing the franchise's name. The team originally called the Colt .45s now has a triple-digit bang for the buck rating, which doesn't figure to change any time soon. That might be the only thing staying the same.

Doug Mittler

Rumor Central