Ultimate Standings: Astros up to top half of MLB teams

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's Oct. 31 NBA Preview Issue. Subscribe today!

Houston Astros

Overall: 57
Title track: 73
Ownership: 62
Coaching: 70
Players: 36
Fan relations: 58
Affordability: 57
Stadium experience: 57
Bang for the buck: 77
Change from last year: +11

The Astros are up 11 spots from last year, and rightfully so, given their 2015 postseason berth and comeback after a sluggish start to 2016. They have management committed to its plan and multiple superstars (with potentially more to come) to make that plan work at a high level of effectiveness.

What's good

The Astros have talent in good amounts. This is not the teardown team of a few years ago. The highlight for fans is the 36th-ranked roster: Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are the Astros' version of Cubs stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. In 2017, you might find yourself arguing which of Correa or Altuve is more MVP-worthy. After an awful start, Alex Bregman showed flashes of greatness in making the transition to third base. He was Keith Law's No. 1 midseason prospect, so there's a lot of hope and anticipation regarding his, and thus the Astros', future.

What's bad

After a postseason berth in 2015, there were high hopes for 2016, but this season's squad didn't quite live up to expectations (and couldn't help a 73rd-ranked title track, one of Houston's poorest showings). Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh were unable to replicate their 2015 performances, and the team's best pitcher, Lance McCullers, made it through only 14 starts. Starting pitching would figure to be a priority moving forward. Fans also clearly expect more from manager A.J. Hinch, who fell 19 spots to 70th overall.

What's new

What's new is that we live in a world in which the Astros are highly regarded -- and relevant. After back-to-back 80-plus-win seasons (the first time in a decade that has happened), the team bumped up 26 spots in bang for the buck, which indicates that the community is supportive and the days of 0.0 TV ratings are a thing of the past. There's nothing about the Astros that screams championship (besides Correa and Altuve), but there isn't anything that makes you wonder what the heck they're doing, either.

Next: Los Angeles Dodgers | Full rankings