No. 52: Pittsburgh Pirates

2013 Ultimate Standings

Updated: September 23, 2013, 12:10 PM ET
By Doug Mittler | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 54
Title track: 108
Ownership: 111
Coaching: 72
Players: 71
Fan relations: 80
Affordability: 18
Stadium experience: 10
Bang for the buck: 9

Pirates fans had every reason to be skeptical, but a streak of 20 straight losing seasons, including very painful late-season collapses in each of the past two years, hasn't kept them away from PNC Park. The Bucs built the fifth-best winning percentage in the majors as of Sept. 10, and home attendance rose to more than 26,000 fans per game, which may not seem like much but represents the best for the club since PNC Park opened in 2001. At one point, the club had five straight home sellouts, believed to be a first in franchise history. "Something special is happening here, and it's truly an incredible thing to witness," gushed Brian on raisethejolleyroger.com after the Bucs drew a near-capacity crowd for a weekday game in mid-August against the Marlins.

Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte are among the fan favorites on a team that leaped 19 points in the players rating to 71st. The city now has a worthy tenant for PNC Park, which is ranked in the top 10 in the stadium experience category for the sixth time in seven years. Travel website TripAdvisor.com even rated PNC, which has a beautiful view of the city skyline, the best MLB facility in the country. "If you are a baseball fan, it would be a disgrace to miss this stadium," writes Kev L. on yelp.com. Only the Padres and D-backs have a lower average ticket price in MLB than the Pirates' $17.21, giving the club its second straight single-digit ranking in the bang for the buck category. Clint Hurdle's club just needs to work on that seventh straight triple-digit titles ranking. Nothing that a little October baseball wouldn't fix.

Doug Mittler

Rumor Central

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