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Title track: 42
Fan relations: 17
Stadium experience: 20
Bang for the buck: 21
Change from last year: +42
A new menu item at Globe Life Park this season is The Wicked Pig, a $27 sandwich that puts pulled pork, bacon, prosciutto, ham and BBQ sauce on a sweet Hawaiian roll with sides of pork rinds and coleslaw. It's huge -- just like the Rangers' 42-point improvement in our overall standings, the best of any MLB team. After two seasons languishing in the middle of the pack, the Rangers are a top-20 Ultimate Standings franchise for the fourth time in six years.
The Rangers didn't just win -- they won in style, compiling a 36-11 record in one-run games, the best single-season mark by any team in at least a century. Average home attendance was up almost 3,000 per game to 33,461. A solid 20th ranking in coaching is courtesy of Jeff Banister, the third manager in the wild-card era to win division titles in his first two seasons with the club. The Rangers have always ranked high in affordability, and that continued with a No. 13 ranking, the highest of any category. The average ticket price of $23.64 is the fourth lowest in the majors. No team with a winning record has prices that reasonable, which accounts for the team's No. 21 bang for the buck.
Other than a disappointing 51st-place showing in title track (which an ALDS sweep won't help), not much is off in Texas. Globe Life Park still rates a very respectable 20th in stadium experience, but the searing Texas heat and the absence of a retractable roof are getting to be too much to bear. The smallest crowd of the year -- 20,720 -- came on an afternoon game in Arlington with a heat index of 105 degrees. Things might change after the Rangers announced plans to build a new, retractable-roof stadium in Arlington, assuming the proposition passes in November's election. Taxpayers could be on the hook for a nice portion of the $1 billion price tag, which would give them another reason to sweat.
Texas overcame a rash of injuries to win its second straight AL West title, and fans respected that grittiness, with a 56-point leap in players to 15th overall. There has also been a major thaw in the way fans view co-chairman Ray Davis, as the Rangers rose to No. 31 in ownership, a 43-point vault. The controversial decision to replace franchise icon Nolan Ryan a few years ago still lingered, but it was apparently nothing a few playoff appearances couldn't change.