No. 16: Tampa Bay Rays

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 6, 2012, 5:36 PM ET
By Ross Marrinson | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 25
Title track: 45
Ownership: 72
Coaching: 5
Players: 14
Fan relations: 24
Affordability: 1
Stadium experience: 113
Bang for the buck: 8

If you're looking for the new Moneyball, check out the Tampa Bay Rays. In the past four years, the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays have paid this much in payroll, respectively: $819,553,183; $579,345,842; and $220,110,673. Do the math. Cost per win? $2,134,253; $1,570,043; and $598,127. Playoff appearances during the span? Three, two and three. The Rays are the most resourceful and well-run franchise in the majors. They have great coaching -- the fans love the bespectacled Joe Maddon and ranked him the best in baseball -- and low prices, with the average ticket price ($19.83) being nearly 30 percent less than the rest of the majors. The Rays also offer cheap beer ($5, 18 percent below MLB average), cheaper soda ($2, 46 percent below MLB average) and a cost per game that's the fourth cheapest in baseball. That's good, because dreadful Tropicana Field garnered a stadium experience rating of 113, which ranks 29th in baseball. Despite the bad ballpark, the Rays rank fourth in baseball in fan relations, first in affordability and third in bang for the buck. You don't need a sabermetric algorithm to tell you that the Rays are a model franchise.