|ESPN.com: SportsNation||[Print without images]|
Last year's rank: 83
Title track: 61
Fan relations: 60
Stadium experience: 20
Bang for the buck: 97
It's been a slow, mostly painful climb back to relevance for the Twins. And with 63 wins in 2011, 66 in 2012 and on pace for 71 this season, they aren't particularly close to that end. Still, Minnesota ranks in the middle third (or better) in seven of our eight categories, and there's little better than watching outdoor baseball at beautiful Target Field -- even with a pitching staff that ranks 28th in the league in WHIP at 1.39 and a lineup that's slugged its way to a .313 on-base percentage (20th in baseball through Sept. 15). The Twins rank 20th in stadium experience, good for eighth best in the league. And though the average ticket price of $32.59 is 19 percent higher than the MLB mean, fans still enjoy 20 ounces of both beer and pop, both quantities well above the league average, for close to average prices. Consolation? Well, not exactly. Fans still blame the franchise for not paying to attract quality free agents. They ranked the team 33 percent below average in this poll and believe they don't get their money's worth in the players they do get. They mostly blame Joe Mauer and his eight-year, $184 million deal for both, even though Mauer leads the team in almost every basic and advanced statistic and has production already worth $25.3 million (through Sept. 15), according to FanGraphs.
The future looks brighter than the present, though, with top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton raking in the minors. So until that future becomes your present, drown your sorrows in those extra ounces of your favorite ballpark libation.