ESPN has once again put out their 'Ultimate Standings' rankings for 2016 - a list that ranks the 122 professional sports franchises from football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. They have fans of each team rate their franchise in the important categories for fans and then use an algorithm to determine who comes out on top. Such categories include:
Fan relations (27.2%): Courtesy by players, coaches and front office toward fans, plus how well a team uses technology to reach fans
Ownership (12.8%): Honesty; loyalty to core players and the local community
Affordability (12.2%): Price of tickets, parking and concessions
Stadium experience (11.7%): Quality of arena; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
Title track (3.9%): Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans
Coaching (2.8%): Strength of on-field leadership
So, whats the result for the Philadelphia Phillies? They find themselves at No. 88 on the 122 team list and No. 23 in Major League Baseball.
Despite such a low ranking, the Phillies had been falling down the list since 2011, their last National League East Championship. After falling for the past five years, the Phillies actually rose 30 spots in this years rankings.
Well, the Phillies ranked 63rd in stadium experience, meaning that fans still value Citizens Bank Park as a fun and exciting place to watch baseball games - setting the stage for the next championship contending team to have the same atmosphere that the Howard-Rollins-Utley era did. Also, with Carlos Ruiz having been traded during the season and Ryan Howard having played his final game as a Phillie, the time for the younger players to make themselves known is officially upon us.
While it may still take a year or two for the prospects that have the Phillies ranked as a top 10 farm system to make it to the majors (Crawford, Williams, Knapp, Appel, Cozens, Hoskins), these names are nonetheless the ones to look out for in years to come.
The Phillies were able to jump 30 spots this year, it would appear, solely based off their distinct push to put the rebuild in full swing during the last year or so. However, the Phillies finished 118th (4th to last out of the 122 team field) in 'Bang for the Buck,' meaning despite fans shelling out an average of $41.50 per ticket, the team has an aggregate winning percentage of just .432 the past four years.
Only three teams charged more per ticket in Major League Baseball - the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago Cubs. Two of those teams were/are in the playoffs this season. The other is New York. Philadelphia doesn't fit in that grouping of teams.
Again, the hype is high for the franchise at the moment, as the minor league farm system is ranked in the top 10 in Major League Baseball. However, there is no guarantee that will translate to success in the big leagues. So for the moment, the depth of the franchise is yet to see if it can push the Phillies over the hump.
The Phillies finished dead last a year ago in coaching, but jumped 44 spots to 78th in the 2016 rankings. Clearly, the fans recognize Pete Mackanin as a better manager than Ryne Sandberg. Ownership also rose 30 spots, as President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail and General Manager Matt Klentak so far appear to be viewed favorably in Philly. With hardly any money on the books going into next season, there is plenty of money out there for the team to search for another veteran arm and/or a veteran hitter as well, which the team has stated they intend to pursue.